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For Immediate Release
Beets, Carrots and Turnips Are Full of Flavor and Nutrition
October 5, 2007

Fall root crops – beets, carrots and turnips – are not usually considered among the most “exciting” vegetable crops.  In fact, they are often considered a “common folks” food.  But they do offer distinctive flavors and plenty of nutritional value.  While all three are available locally earlier in the summer, they are available in good quantity in farmers’ markets, roadside farm markets and supermarkets throughout the fall.

While the tops of both beets and turnips are also edible as cooked greens, the roots are the more commonly used portion of the plant.  Beets, which are naturally high in sugar but still low in calories, are usually cooked by boiling.  To preserve both nutrients and the natural dark red color, beets should be boiled whole without cutting.  When they can be easily pierced with a sharp knife, they should be drained, cooled briefly under running cold water and then peeled.  Beets can also be baked, microwaved or steamed. Beets have significant amounts of vitamin C, folacin and manganese.

Carrots are an ideal raw vegetable snack anytime or in a brown bag lunch – especially the ready-peeled “baby” carrots that have revolutionized the carrot industry in the last 20 years.  Locally grown carrots, however, will usually be full-sized and may be sold with the tops on.  While the tops may imply that the carrots are fresh from the field, the tops should be removed before storing the carrots as they draw moisture out of the carrot root as they wilt.  Carrots are legendary for their vitamin A content – over five times the daily adult requirement – but they also contain significant amounts of beta carotene, vitamin C and potassium.  And while they are easily enjoyed raw alone, with dip or in salads, they are be delicious cooked with butter or a honey glaze or in soups, cakes, stir-frys and numerous other recipes.

Turnips are also easily enjoyed raw but can be cooked any number of different ways, including baking or roasting, boiling, braising, microwaving, steaming, or stir-frying.  Turnips are high in vitamin C.

The following finalist recipes from the 2007 “Simply Delicious, Simply Nutritious” Pennsylvania Vegetable Recipe Contest offer tasty ways that are far from “common” to enjoy these root crops:


Ruby Red Fruit and Nut Pie

Serves 8 to 10.

2                Beets – medium

1/2 C.        Corn Syrup – dark

3                Eggs

1 tsp.         Cinnamon

1/4 tsp.     Nutmeg

1/8 tsp.     Cloves – ground

1/4 tsp.     Vinegar

1/2 tsp.     Salt

1 tsp.         Vanilla

2 T.            Butter or Margarine – softened

3/4  C.       Brown Sugar – light

1 T.            Flour

1 C.           Raisins

1/2  C.       Walnuts

1                Pie Shell – 9 inch, unbaked, chilled

Preheat the oven to 400ºf and set the oven rack at the lowest position.  Cut the leaves off the beets and discard.  Cook the beets in boiling water until tender.  Pour off the water and let beets stand until cool enough to handle.  Slip the skins off the beets, trim the roots and remove a slice from the top.  Slice or coarsely chop the beets to equal 3/4 to 1 cup.  Finely chop the beets in a food processor (do not puree).  Remove the beets and add all the ingredients except the raisins and nuts to the processor work bowl.  Blend completely, then add the raisins, nuts, and beets.  Pulse 2 or 3 times, only until the raisins and nuts are incorporated into the mixture.  Pour into chilled pie shell and bake on bottom rack at 400ºF for 10 minutes.  Lower the oven temperature to 375ºF and bake 20 to 25 minutes longer until firm when gently shaken.

Frances Dietz, York, First Place Prize Winner


Smooth Carrot Soup

Serves 4

2 C.           Carrots – chopped

1/4 C.        Onion – chopped

1 T.            Butter

14-1/2 oz. Chicken Broth

1/4 tsp.     Ginger – ground

1/4 C.        Half and Half

1/4 C.        Milk

1/4 C.        Cheddar Cheese – shredded

1 dollop    Sour cream (optional)

In a small saucepan, sauté carrots and onions in butter until crisp-tender.  Add the broth and ginger.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cover.  Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until carrots are very tender.  Cool slightly.  Puree soup in a blender and return to the pan.  Stir in Half and Half and milk and heat through.  Do not boil.

Barbara Nissley, Ephrata, Finalist

Bacon-Fried Carrots and Turnips

Serves  6.

2 slices     Bacon – diced (more can be used to suit personal taste)

2                Onions – medium, cut in half, sliced

3                Carrots – medium, julienned

2                Turnips – peeled and julienned (approx. 2 cups)

1/2 tsp.    Salt

1/8 tsp.     Pepper – freshly ground

garnish     Parsley – chopped (optional)

Fry the bacon in a skillet until crisp.  Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel.  Reserve 1 to 2 T. bacon drippings* in the skillet.  Add the onion and turn the burner to low.  Caramelize the onion in the skillet for 20 to 30 minutes, keeping covered and stirring occasionally.  (This works well in a non-stick skillet.)  When the onion has become soft and turned a golden caramel color, add the carrots and turnips.  Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 minutes or until preferred tenderness.  Stir occasionally.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Garnish with bacon and chopped parsley.

*Olive Oil may be used instead of the bacon drippings but the bacon adds an very nice flavor.

Becky Frey, Lebanon, Finalist


Glorious Carrot Cake

Serves 10 to 12

1-3/4 C.    Brown Sugar

2 C.           Flour

2 tsp.         Baking Soda

1 tsp.         Salt

1-1/2 tsp.  Cinnamon

1 C.           Vegetable Oil

4                Eggs

3 C.           Carrots – grated

1 tsp.         Vanilla

1 C.           Pecans – chopped, toasted

1 C.           Pineapple – crushed in juice, drained

Pre-heat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour a bundt  pan. In a large bowl or mixer, add all dry ingredients. Add oil and vanilla. Mix well and then add eggs, one at a time. Stir in carrots, nuts and pineapple. Pour batter into bundt plan and bake for 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted to center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and frost with cream cheese icing or sprinkle with powder sugar, if desired.

Sophia Dominick, Brodheadsville, Finalist


Quick Buying Tips for Pennsylvania Beets

The Pennsylvania Vegetable Marketing and Research Program offers these tips when buying fresh beets:

—          Select firm, medium-sized beets.

—          Look for beets with a deep red color.

—          Remove tops if attached and refrigerate in a plastic bag.


Quick Buying Tips for Pennsylvania Carrots

The Pennsylvania Vegetable Marketing and Research Program offers these tips when buying fresh carrots:

—          Select firm carrots with an orange to orange-red color.

—          Avoid super large carrots.

—          Remove tops if attached and refrigerate in a plastic bag.


Quick Buying Tips for Pennsylvania Turnips

The Pennsylvania Vegetable Marketing and Research Program offers these tips when buying fresh turnips:

—          Select firm, smooth-skinned turnips.

—          Refrigerate in a plastic bag.

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