This variety of table beet,was introduced in America by 1820 and was one of the most popular beets grown the the northeastern and mid-atlantic states in the nineteenth century. Today, this variety is endangered, perhaps because it has a variable growth cycle of 48 to 68 days to maturity from seed, which doesn’t conform well to commercial farming.
The beets grow to 4-5″ in diamater and have very dark, purplish-red flesh, which stays flavorful and tender even when the beets are large. It has a complex taste and aroma, and is good boiled, baked or even raw. Its leaves make an excellent cooked green.
It stores extremely well, up to eight months under good conditions. To grow, soak seed in warm water the day before planing. After the last frost, plant 14″ apart in deeply dug, loose soil. They are often interspersed with radish seed, which grows more rapidly. Weed regularly.
Image courtesy of Slow Foods USA.