It was the beginning of my junior year at Colorado State University and at long last I was living in an off campus apartment with three new roommates. Two of us nutrition majors, an occupational therapy student and a psych major all seemed to be getting along famously until that one morning in early fall.
It was a Monday morning and instead of the usual talkative breakfast banter, one by one, each of my roommates emerged from their room, sullen and quiet. No one spoke or gave eye contact to each other, they just sat in silence. Finally, the psych major announced that she needed to go to the campus clinic. She wondered if anyone had gone there before.
Psych major explained that when she used the bathroom that morning her urine was red and she was concerned that something was terribly wrong. The others chimed in to share their similar story while I sat in disbelief…their worry was all my fault.
We were getting to know one another by sharing Sunday dinners, so I volunteered to go first. From my mother’s garden, I harvested zucchini squash, lettuce and beets to share with my roommates. I’m a country girl, so it didn’t occur to me that they would be unaware that eating beets will cause your urine to turn pink. I thought it was a charming reminder of eating a good helping of beets…and they thought they were dying.
I thought that pink urine was a charming reminder of eating a good helping of beets...and they thought they were dying.
I still love beets, but warn all beet beginners about the pink urine effect.
Tips for Buying Beets
Beets are versatile and can be served warm, cold, pickled, cooked or even fresh.
- The freshest beets are sold with the greens still attached. Because the leaves pull moisture from the beet, remove the leafy tops as soon as you get home.
- Cut the green one-inch from the beet. Chop them us and use them in a salad or sauté them with olive oil and garlic.
- Cooked beets should feel tender all of the way to the center when poked with a knife.
- Peel beets after cooking to prevent their pigments from turning everything (including your hands) red. Use a paper towel to easily slip the skins off after cooking.
Two Ways to Cook Beets
Scrub two pounds of fresh beets (green leaves removed), massage them with 1 teaspoon olive oil, then wrap them all together in a heavy aluminum foil packet. Bake in a 400° F oven for one hour or until a knife can easily pierce the flesh of the beet. After roasting, allow them to cool slightly before slipping off the skins.
Pressure Cooking Beets
Beets are amazingly forgiving vegetables and will remain firm no matter how long they are cooked. I use a stove top pressure cooker when we are on our boat, but at home I use my Instant Pot...set it and forget it!
Pressure cooking is the ideal way to cook firm vegetables like beets. With an Instant Pot you can set the time and forget about it.
- 2 pounds beets (about 3-4 medium beets)
Prepare the beets by lightly scrubbing the skins and trimming the greens to within one-inch of the root. Save the greens for another use.
Arrange the beets in a single layer in the steaming basket and place it in the Instant Pot. Add 2 cups of water.
Secure the lid and close the pressure valve.
On Manual setting, set the cooker for 25 minutes at high pressure. Allow the cooker to naturally release pressure for 15 minutes.
Let cool slightly before peeling.
If you're using a stove top pressure cooker - prepare the beets as in the recipe above. Add 2 cups of water to the pressure cooker and place the beets on an elevated rack. Cook medium beets (2-inch diameter) at high pressure for 22 minutes and use a natural release for 15 minutes.