Small beetroots have a better flavour than very large ones. To boil beetroots, wash them well in cold water to remove the soil. Be careful not to damage the skin and the roots or, when boiling, the beetroots will ‘bleed’ and lose their colour.
Trim off the leaves but do not cut off the beard or top roots. If the skin or a root is cut, seal it by singeing quickly over a flame.
Put the beetroots in a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cover and simmer for 1 to 4 hours, according to size, until tender. To test that the beetroots are cooked, do not prod with a fork as this will cause ‘bleeding’. Take a root out of the water and press it gently with your fingers. If the skin rubs off, the beetroot is cooked.
When the beetroots are tender, drain them well and peel by rubbing off the skin and roots. Slice off the top.