Beets are marketed in a range of sizes. Early-crop beets are usually sold in bunches with the tops attached. Small, young beets (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter) are pleasingly tender and cook in less time than larger ones. Their fine texture is also an asset if you intend to use them raw in a salad.
Medium-sized beets are fine for most cooking purposes, though larger varieties over 2 1/2 inches in diameter may be tough, with unpalatable woody cores.
Look for smooth, hard, round beets. The surface should be unbruised and free of cuts. Avoid beets with soft, moist spots or shriveled, flabby skin. The taproot, which extends from the bulbous part of the beet, should be slender. When choosing your beets, pick equal-sized ones so that they will cook evenly.
If the leaves are attached, they should be small, crisp, and dark green. If the beets have their leaves removed, be sure that at least a 1/2 inch of the stems and 2 inches of the taproot remain, or the color will bleed from the beets as they cook.
How to store beets
Beets can stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. To reduce moisture loss from beet roots, cut off the beet greens before storing. Leave at least an inch of the stem attached. Do not wash beets before storing.
Baby beets stay fresh best with their greens intact, so don’t remove the greens from tiny beets.