Beets vs Sugar Beets: Is There a Difference?

beets vs sugar beets

There are many different ways to categorize plants, fruits, and vegetables. It would be impossible to list them all down in one article.

So for this particular feature, we will focus on the types of beets mainly contrasted by color, shape, and other distinctive features (as well as a separate description about sugar beets).

Beets vs Sugar Beets

Golden Beets

Although this golden-colored beet has been around since the 1820s (possibly even earlier), people are still not very familiar with it. Some also call it the yellow beet.

If your family isn’t very acquainted with beets or beetroots, this is a good introduction for everyone as they will welcome it because of the attractive color.

The Golden beet has a sweet and milder flavor than the other beets, and it comes out more when roasted. Some variations of golden beets are the Golden Detroit, Burpee’s Golden, and the simply named, Golden.

Red Beets

This is the color of beet that people are more accustomed to – the red or purple beets. Most people remember trying some sort of purple beet growing up; they were usually canned beets from the local grocery store. This is probably the reason why people are turned off with beets. Canned beets are not good tasting.

Eat beets that have been harvested in the past couple of days and you will definitely taste the difference. One way to really savor the taste is to roast the beets immediately after getting them from the garden.

If you love potatoes, then you will love beets. They adapt to whatever food they are combined with-steak, chicken, pork, fish. Mouth-watering! Some cultivars of red beets include Crosby Egyptian, Detroit Dark Red, and Crapaudine.

“Cylindra” Beets

Obviously, this is not a color. This variety of beet is based on its root that is, well, cylindrical. It is normally longer than the other beetroots (6-9 inches) and they grow fully mature around 60 days.

This type of beet is can be served at a party as it can be used as a substitute for carrots. It has been served since the 1880s and has its origins from Denmark. It has also been called other names such as, Butter Slicer (refers to its texture which could pass as soft) and Formanova.

Striped Beets

If you’ve never seen a striped beet being displayed in the produce area of the grocery store, that’s because the stripes are only seen when you cut the root. They are seen in the interior of the beetroot.

Other names it has been labeled as Bull’s Eye Beet and Candy Stripe. It has been around since the 1800s but only introduced to the American market in the late 1840s. Some cultivars of this variety include Bassano beets and Chiogga beets.

Mangel-wurzel Beets

The what beets? Literally translated from German meaning “root chard”, it has also been called mangel beet, field beet, fodder beet, and most popularly, mangold beet.

This is a specialized cultured beet that is specifically developed for livestock consumption. With its unique shape that is a combination of carrot and beet, this variety can grow up to 20 pounds each.

For those that are utilizing this type of beet for farm animal fodder, it is preferred to be harvested before maturity before it becomes too hard for the animals to eat. One popular variety of this beet is the Yellow Cylindrical which is a rare sweet-flavored golden-yellow color beet.

Sugar Beets

The sugar beet looks slightly different than other beets. Its root is shaped similar to a cone and the color is closer to white rather than to the more recognizable red/purple kinds. In fact, the sugar beets seem closer to the tulip family than beets.

While 80% of the world’s sugar production comes from sugar cane, the other 20% originate from sugar beets. The sucralose levels of sugar beets are so high that those who are following a strict diet tend to stay away from them and rather choose the other varieties.

Sugar beets usually are not found in the produce area in the grocery stores. They are commercially produced and go through a long process to become the refined white sugar that everyone knows.

For those that want to teach their kids the value of gardening, growing sugar beets is a good idea as they are easy to maintain. Plus the greens could still be eaten similar to spinach. This is a good way to instill the importance of food to the next generation.