Chioggia Beets, Everything You Need To Know

Chioggia Beets, Everything you Need To Know

Chioggia beets, commonly known as the Candy Cane or Bull’s Eye beet, is a visually appealing beetroot type notable for its distinctive look. When cut, it shows concentric rings of white and deep pink or crimson, making it a favorite decorative option for salads and meals. This heirloom beet, grown in the coastal town of Chioggia in Italy, has a sweet, mild flavor and a soft texture. It can be eaten raw, roasted, or pickled, and the vivid color fades when cooked. The

They are nutritious and visually appealing addition to any meal, containing minerals such as fiber, vitamins A and C, and folate.


Historical Background of Chioggia Beets



These beets have a long and illustrious history, dating back to the coastal town of Chioggia in the Veneto area of Italy. This picturesque town, often called “Little Venice,” is known for its canals, fishing industry, and vibrant markets. The beet was first cultivated in this area and has been a staple in Italian cuisine for centuries. The Chioggia beet’s unique appearance and flavor made it a prized variety among Italian farmers and cooks. Over time, it spread beyond Italy’s borders and found a place in kitchens worldwide.


Botanical Characteristics


The Chioggia beet (Beta vulgaris) belongs to the Chenopodiaceae family, including other well-known plants such as spinach, quinoa, and Swiss chard. This biannual plant is commonly planted as an annual in most gardens. The plant features broad, dark green leaves with red veins, growing from a rosette at the base. The edible root, which is the main attraction, develops underground and can reach a size of 3-4 inches in diameter. The root’s skin is smooth and dark red, while the interior displays white and pink or red concentric rings.


Nutritional Benefits of Chioggia Beets



They are not only visually appealing but also packed with essential nutrients. It is rich in dietary fiber, which assists digestion and keeps the gut healthy. The beet is also high in vitamins A and C. Vitamin A is essential for maintaining healthy vision, skin, and immune function. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that protects the body from free radicals and promotes immune health. Furthermore, Chioggia beets include folate, a B vitamin essential for DNA synthesis and repair, cell division, and growth.


The beetroot is also a good source of minerals such as manganese, potassium, and magnesium. Manganese aids bone growth, blood coagulation, and inflammation reduction, whereas potassium promotes heart health and blood pressure regulation. Magnesium is required for muscle and neuron function and energy metabolism.


Moreover, beetroots, including Chioggia beets, are known for their high nitrate content. The body turns the dietary nitrates into nitric oxide, helping relax blood vessels, enhance blood flow, and reduce blood pressure. This property makes beets beneficial for cardiovascular health. Consuming Chioggia beets can also boost athletic performance, as the increased nitric oxide levels enhance oxygen delivery to muscles, improving endurance and stamina.


Culinary Uses


Chioggia beets are flexible in the kitchen, with several preparation options to accentuate their distinct flavor and visual attractiveness. Here are some popular culinary applications:




When eaten raw, Chioggia beets retain their vibrant color and crisp texture. They can be thinly sliced or grated and added to salads for a splash of color and a sweet, earthy flavor. Beet carpaccio is a popular recipe in which thin slices of raw beet are drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice before being topped with fresh herbs and shaved Parmesan cheese.




Roasting Chioggia beets brings out their natural sweetness and enhances their tender texture. To roast, scrub the beets, put them in aluminum foil, and bake in a preheated oven at 400°F (200°C) for 45-60 minutes or until pierced with a fork. The skins peel off once cooled. Roasted Chioggia beets can be served as a side dish, tossed in salads, or blended into soups.




Pickling is another popular method for preserving and enjoying Chioggia beets. Pickled beets add a tangy, sweet flavor to dishes and can be used as a condiment or side. To pickle Chioggia beets, boil them until tender, then peel and slice. Prepare a pickling solution with vinegar, water, sugar, and spices such as cloves, cinnamon, and bay leaves. Pour the hot pickling solution over the sliced beets and let them marinate in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before serving.


Grilled Chioggia Beets



Grilling adds a smoky depth of flavor that complements their natural sweetness. Toss the beets with pepper, salt, and olive oil before grilling over medium-high heat until tender and charred. Grilled beets are an excellent complement to salads, grain bowls, pizzas, and flatbreads.




Chioggia beets can also be juiced for a refreshing and nutritious drink. Their sweet flavor complements other fruits and vegetables, including apples, carrots, and ginger.  Beet juice is recognized for its cleansing effects, aiding energy levels and overall health.


Growing Chioggia Beets


Growing Chioggia beets in your yard is simple and may flourish in several conditions. Here are some suggestions for successfully raising this rare beet variety:


Soil and Site Selection


Chioggia beets prefer well-drained, fertile soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5 and thrive in direct sunshine but may tolerate some shade. Clear any debris or rocks from the soil and add organic matter like compost before planting to enhance soil fertility and drainage.


Planting Chioggia Beets



Chioggia beet seeds can be sown directly into the garden in early spring or fall, as they are cool-season crops.  As the seedlings emerge and expand, thin them 3-4 inches apart to give the roots ample room to thrive. Plant the seeds approximately 1-2 inches apart in rows 12-18 inches apart and 1/2 inch deep.




Consistent moisture is crucial for growing healthy Chioggia beets. Water the plants regularly, keeping the soil evenly moist but not soggy. Mulching around plants can help preserve moisture and control weeds.




While Chioggia beets do not require heavy feeding, a balanced fertilizer applied at planting and midway through the growing season can promote healthy growth. Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers, as they can encourage leafy growth at the expense of root development.


Pest and Disease Management


Chioggia beets are relatively resistant to pests and illnesses. However, they are periodically attacked by typical garden pests like aphids, leaf miners, and flea beetles. Regularly inspect the plants and use appropriate organic or chemical controls if necessary. Crop rotation and proper spacing can help prevent disease issues such as downy mildew and root rot.




Chioggia beets are harvested 50-60 days after sowing when they are around 2-3 inches in diameter for the best flavor and texture. Pull the roots from the soil and trim the leaves, leaving about 1 inch of stem to prevent bleeding. The greens can also be harvested as a nutritious addition to salads and sautés.


Preserving Chioggia Beets


If you have an abundant harvest of Chioggia beets, there are several ways to preserve them for later use:




To freeze Chioggia beets, wash and peel them, then cut them into slices or cubes. Blanch the beets in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then immediately transfer them to an ice water bath to stop the cooking process.  Drain and pack the beets into freezer-safe containers or bags, leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace. Frozen beets can be kept for up to a year.


Canning of Chioggia Beets



Canning is another method for preserving them. They can be canned as plain beets or pickled beets. Peeled and sliced beets should be packed into sterilized jars, covered with boiling water, and pressure canned according to the manufacturer’s directions. For pickled beets, pack the beets into jars and cover them with a hot pickling solution before processing them in a boiling water bath.




Dehydrating Chioggia beets can create a crunchy snack or a versatile ingredient for soups and stews. To dehydrate, wash, peel, and slice the beets into thin rounds. Place the slices on dehydrator trays and dry at 125°F (52°C) for 8-12 hours or until dry and crisp. Keep the dehydrated beets in an airtight container in a cool, dark area.


Chioggia Beets in Cuisine


Chioggia beets are celebrated in various culinary traditions, particularly in Italian cuisine. Their distinctive appearance and sweet flavor make them an adaptable addition to different cuisines.


Here are some traditional and modern recipes featuring the beets:


Insalata di Barbabietole


This classic Italian beet salad highlights the natural sweetness and vibrant color of Chioggia beets. To prepare, roast or boil the beets until tender, then peel and slice them. Arrange the slices on a dish, then drizzle with balsamic vinegar, sea salt, and extra virgin olive oil.


Where to buy Chioggia beets


The beets can be found at various locations, including local farmers’ markets, specialty grocery stores, and online retailers like Amazon.

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