Egyptian red beet is an ancient, early variety, perfect for harvesting in summer.
Key ‘Flat of Egypt’ beetroot facts:
Latin name: Beta vulgaris
Common: Egyptian red beet, Crosby
Type: root vegetable
Height: 12 to 16 inches (30 to 40 cm)
Planting distance: 8 inches (20 cm)
Soil: fresh, light, deep, humus-rich
Planting: March → July – Harvesting: July → October.
It produces a medium-sized, smooth, flattened root with a deep purple-red color that’s visually stunning. You’ll find its flesh to be both tender and juicy with a rich, red color! The Egyptian red beet’s green leaves have burgundy veins that are magnificent.
This red beet variety rarely goes to seed. Easy to grow and very resilient, enjoy heirloom red beets of Egypt either raw or cooked, whatever tickles your fancy!
→ Note: there are three main sub-varieties: Flat of Egypt, Round of Egypt, and Crosby Egypt. They’re very similar in how to sow, grow, and care for them.
Planting your Egyptian red beet
Get your Egyptian red beet seeds in the ground during spring. It’s a good idea to stagger your planting from March to July. You’ll have a longer harvest season, stretching all the way from July to October.
- Plant your Egypt red beet seeds directly in open ground, ideally in a very sunny spot.
- If planting early after winter, consider starting indoors or on a warm bed. Like all beets, don’t pull out the root to transplant it: just bring along all the soil to the new planting spot!
This beet variety loves fresh, light, deep soils rich in humus. But steer clear of rocky and limestone-packed soils.
- Plant in rows, plopping 3 to 4 seeds every 8 inches (20 cm), about ¾ inch deep (2 cm).
- Keep a spacing of 12 inches (30 cm) minimum between rows.
If you’ve started your beets under shelter, transplant them when they display 5 leaves, no later.
→ Once the tiny plants sprout, usually within 7 days, thin them out to only keep a particularly vigorous plant every 8 inches (again, 20 cm).
Cultivation and care
Growing the red beet of Egypt is a among the easier beetroot varieties. This hardy garden plant doesn’t require as much water. But watch out on dry, scorching days, or you might end up with woody roots, which are so fibrous they’re nearly inedible.
Solid mulch on your soil will keep pesky weeds at bay, giving your beet room to thrive.
Looking for garden companions for your beet? Lettuce, kohlrabi, onion, and dwarf bean is the way to go.
Diseases and pests
While the ‘Flat of Egypt’, ‘Crosby’ and ‘Round of Egypt’ fend off all diseases in normal circumstances, sometimes rust and downy mildew can infect the patch.
And watch out for a tiny pest called the beet fly.
Harvesting and storage
Being an early bird, the red beet of Egypt can keep for all of winter. It’s just important to make sure to harvest them before the first fall frosts and let them cure on the ground on a sunny day.
- Snip off the little root tips and leaves, and give the root a run of the brush to remove to any dirt that clings to it.
- Next, space your beets onto sand-filled crates and let them chill in a dark, dry room (a vegetable silo is excellent if you don’t have a cellar).
- Keep the temperature as steady as possible.
How to cook Egyptian red beet?
Boasting a delicate texture and juicy, tender flesh, Egyptian red beet shines in various dishes.
People often enjoy it raw in carpaccio or salad. But you can cook it too! For instance, try it sauté’ed or go for deep-frying!
If you boil it first, you can then bake it or even cook it under ash (wrapped in aluminum foil).
The young leaves of an Egypt red beet plant are fully edible. They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, and trace elements, they taste fabulous in mesclun or cooked spinach-style.