Beetroot, or more commonly known as Beets, evolved from wild seabeet, which is a native of coastlines from India to Britain and is the ancestor of all cultivated forms of beet. Sea beet was first domesticated in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East – although it was only the leaves that were eaten at that time.
In early times, the medicinal properties of the root were more important than its eating qualities and it was used to treat a range of ailments including fevers, constipation, wounds and various skin problems and did not become a popular food until French chefs recognized their potential in the 1800’s. At that time, the roots were long and thin like a carrot. The rounded root shape that we are familiar with today was not developed until the sixteenth century and became widely popular in Central and Eastern Europe 200 years later.
Beet powder is used as a coloring agent for many foods. Some frozen pizzas use beet powder to color the tomato sauce.