Sugar Beets!

No, I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth, I am just in full Christmas rush mode and crazy busy. But I wanted to post about sugar beet harvest before I forgot everything. What are sugar beets? Basically just what they sound like, a large sugary beet. Instead of being red or golden like the traditional borscht beet they are white and about 5x the size. The sugar beet is 15 – 20% sucrose and according to Wikipedia beet sugar accounts for 30% of the world’s sugar production. My in-laws are doing their part to make sure that Americans get their 120 lb annual average intake!


This is a fully loaded sugar beet truck heading off to the beet dump (where the loads are weighed and collected for processing into sugar)


There are two basic steps in beet harvesting (and I would imagine it to be a similar process for all root vegetables). First the beet topper whacks the leafy green top part of the beet down and then slices off the top portion of the beet. This process is pictured above. The goal is to just cut off a small amount of the top so that only silver dollar size portion of the white beet interior is exposed. After the beets are topped the beet harvester digs up the beet.

as the beet harvester (also called a beet digger) is pulling the beets out the grown it simultaneously loads them into a truck driving parallel to the harvester. As one truck is filled another truck pulls up behind ready to collect more beets. The average field on my in-laws farm is about 150 aces and it takes approximately 4-5 days to completely harvest it (depending greatly on weather).


Here is a better look at some freshly topped sugar beets that are about to be harvested and a harvested sugar beet laying in the field.


And here is a look at a happy farmer with a very cute grandson!

While I was riding around in the tractors and trucks I asked every worker if they had every cooked, eaten, or made anything from sugar beet. And while almost everyone had tasted sugar beet I could not find a single soul who had ever made anything with a sugar beet or cooked it in it’s raw form. So of course I had to try it. I took home a sugar beet from the field and had Myles use a hack saw to chop it into a reasonable size piece. Then I scoured the Internet for a suitable recipe. Surprisingly the Internet is almost void of any sugar beet recipes. Luckily, I did find this one recipe for sugar beet and black sesame bread. Though I am not sure the recipe author was actually using sugar beets as the picture of their bread looks suspiciously red. But I tried it any way and it actually turned out pretty well.


Sugar beet in it’s raw form has a very earthy flavor and the sesame seeds balance it nicely. The recipe called for black sesame seeds but we didn’t have any black sesame seeds so we had to make due with the standard off white ones. (Actually I had never even heard of black sesame seeds before.) I thought it was pleasantly nice and I would be open to making more foods with sugar beet.

until next time!


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  1. Rane dae

    How cool! I had no idea that sugar beets were still such a large portion of sugar production. Myles really looks like his father…wow! And black sesame seeds are more popular in Asian foods. Try Uwajimaya or any other Asian market for them. They are good! The flavor is a little different and the texture is a bit crunchier. Enjoy!

  2. Wow…that is the coolest thing ever!!! I love the shots you got of the process!! I would love to watch a harvest first hand one day…

  3. Kate

    Jacob has been addicted to your blog recently! tractors…. dump trucks… farming… he is in heaven!!! He keeps asking to, “go Simon’s bog, mama” when he sees the computer!

  4. Dorret

    Love this set. I grew up near a factory in Holland where they process them and after a while you get used to the sweet smell and actually start associating it with Fall. I now miss it.

  5. Eva

    Gorgeous farm shots. I also love your newborn work.

  6. While searching for sugar beet recipes, I came across your post. Here is Germany, sugar beets are harvested in a similar process. I too, would like to try a real sugar beet.

  7. morva cook

    I am from s.w.ontario originally and just returned home to calgary.
    I brought back 2 large sugar beets fresh from the field and the process you described.
    On,I found a recipe for sugar beet bread,which I plan to try.

  8. Svetlana

    When I was a growing up in Serbia, we grew shugar beats brought it to a place where they made sugar from them, which lasted us all year. My grandmother used to bake it in the oven like one would bake a pumpkin and it was so delisious. I have bean in Canada for 40 years and newer saw them. I wish I could get one to bake it and to bring back childhood memories.