Beet powder consists of beetroot that has been dried and ground to a powder. Beet powder has a longer shelf life and is easier to consume when compared to fresh beets or beet juice. Beets belong to the same family as the grain amaranth.
Beets were first domesticated in Italy. Hybrids were cultivated using wild red, white, and other varieties to arrive at the various beet cultivars and beet relatives that we have available today. The earliest forms were longer, more cylindrical and bore a closer appearance to carrots or parsnips rather than the modern spherical variety.
The word beet is believed to have a Celtic origin. The root vegetable that it denotes has been used for much of human history. The earliest records of people consuming beets go as far back as 4000 BCE in Egypt. The Ancient Greeks and Romans both enjoyed them as well and developed methods for growing them during the summer, despite the fact that beets traditionally grew in the winter. Note that the earliest efforts at cultivating beets focused on the greens rather than the roots, which were sometimes used in medicine but not as food. The roots would be cultivated for consumption in 16th century Europe.
Beets were brought from Europe to the Americas by colonists so that it was widely mentioned in America by the 1700s. These beets were not just the red variety that is the most common today and which tend to be used for making beet powder, but yellow and white beets as well. Beets were cultivated by both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson on their farms.
In the Mid-18th century, a German chemist discovered how to produce sucrose from beets.
Only in the 19th century did beets become popular as a food, due to its discovery by French chefs.
Beet powder flavor profile
Beet powder’s flavor is similar to that of fresh beets in that it is sweet and slightly earthy.
Health benefits of beet powder
The beetroot used to make beet powder is loaded with vitamins and minerals. The powder made from that beetroot is no different in most respects. It is a good source of nutrients like:
- Vitamins: Beet powder provides a modest amount of vitamin A, a slightly greater amount of vitamin C.
- Minerals: Beet powder offers small but still significant amounts of calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
- Fiber: Beet powder is a good source of dietary fiber.
- Antioxidants: Beets are rich in a particular group of antioxidants called betalains. Betalains are pigments with numerous health benefits.
Along with these benefits, beet powder is low in calories. It is nutritionally similar to beet juice, just with far fewer calories.
Because of the aforementioned nutrients, you can use beets to treat or prevent health issues like:
- Eye problems: Beet powder is a rich source of carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin that make them useful for reducing the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.
- Cancer: The anti-inflammatory effects of the betalains in beet powder make them effective at preventing certain cancers.
- Heart disease: The nitrates in beet powder may be beneficial for lowering blood pressure and can improve cardiovascular health.
Beet powder is commonly used as a flavoring for vegetable juices, including carrot and celery juices. It has the highest sugar content of any vegetable, which is why it can be used to make sugar. It also does not add liquid the way that beet juice would and its bright red color makes it effective as a natural food coloring. It is sometimes added to tomato sauce to enhance the red color and can be used in other sauces and gravies.