Usually I am able to get 3 crops of beets in each year: One in the spring, one in mid-summer and the last harvest is in the fall. On a typical year I harvest about 15 lbs of beet greens all from a 4×6’ raised bed. That is about $22.50 worth of vegetables just by cutting off the beet leaves. (Based on veggies costing about $1.50/lb: Montana prices) The beets themselves are something separate that I will talk about at another time.
This year, because I was ill much of the spring and summer, my yield was much less. I only did one crop of beets with a yielded of 4 lbs of greens. But hey that is 4 lbs of power packed nutrition that will go into our bodies and the $6.00 that we saved by growing, harvesting and processing it went into our retirement account, not Safeways.
Here is how I do it. About once a month I go outside and cut off all the larger beet leaves. The smaller ones I cut off periodically to add to my home grown lettuce for some fantastic salads.
Once cut, I let them steep in cold water in an old dish beat-up dishpan that I saved for food processing. I let them sit for about 30 minutes or so, gently agitating them occasionally. This allows for any debris to sink to the bottom of the dishpan. While they are soaking, I have water heating on the stove for blanching.
When the water starts to boil, I add the clean beet greens to the pot for 3 minutes, then I remove them and re-submerge them into ice cold water to stop the cooking process.
Once all the greens have been blanched and cooled, I strain them, (saving all the cold water), weight them into 8 oz increments, and ziploc them. I have found that ziploc bags can be reused several times before they start to leak. Once they do start to leak a little, I still use them, I just double bag everything I store.
Once all the greens have been weighed and bagged, I label them and put everything in the freezer. I never pressure can my greens because I have found that the cost of running my electric stove for 1 hour while the greens process is a waste of money, especially here in Montana where electricity is a bit pricy.
Remember the cooling water that I saved? Well I use that to water my plants with. It has trace amounts of vitamins and minerals that the plants love.
The actual blanching water, gets cooled, strained through cheese cloth and put into containers for use later in the week. This blanching water also contains traces of minerals and vitamins so I use it to make rice, oatmeal or quinoa throughout the week or it gets utilized as a vegetable broth for soups or any other recipes that need a veggie broth. Everything gets used and there is zero waste.
This week I blanched and bagged 1 1/2 lbs of greens and it took me a whopping 30 minutes.
A penny saved is a penny earned! Plus the nutritional benefits far out-weight anything I might purchase from the food store.