OK. For those following the Ann Arbor Sugar Beet Project, I have some bad news to report. But before I give my report, lets recap some of the successes.
1. Successful found non-gmo seeds
2. Planted the seeds and yielded about 50LBs of non-gmo sugar beets
3. Got a bunch of people to grow sugar beets too
4. Joined up with Amish farmer Danny Miller who also grew sugar beets
5. Was written up in Edible Wow
6. Had a successful fundraiser for equipment
7. Did a successful sugar beet molasses test with about 15LBS
OK. so where am I now with the project?
I looked in my bins where I was storing my beets to discover that they were all molding. I think the warm then cold weather did the beets in, which I kept outside in the cold winter.
The result is about 350LBs of moldy beets, which are now food for the compost pile.
With that said, I have two pounds of seed and all of the equipment to give it another go.
What basically happened is that the places/kitchens that I had arranged to use to process the beets fell through and I was not able to find a kitchen. I stored them outside in the cool fall temperatures, for what I figure would be a week or so, but it was longer. Too long it turned out.
As for the people who still have beets in the ground, I really cannot say if they have retained enough sugar to make it worth while to make sugar from them or if the had gone to starch, but we can do a small batch test. If it works, we might be able to savage the project some.
So what is the lesson and the plan for next year?
For starters, I am thinking smaller this year. If people want to grow beets I will provide them with some of my seed and if they need to borrow my juicer and seltzer bottle and containers for a small at home production I am willing to help..
But I am not planning a large scale sugar beet party that would require the use of a kitchen larger than my own.
The idea was to start a project that promoted people in the Ann Arbor area (and where ever they can grow sugar beets) who were interested in local food to bring back the tradition of at home beet sugar making.
If you would like to grow sugar beets this year and you want some seed, I would be happy to mail you some.
$1.oo gets you 2TBS of non-gmo sugar beet seeds (shipping by regular mail included), enough to plant about 5 x 10 foot plot or more (50-75 beets),
$2.00 gets 4TBS, $3.00 gets 6TBS….etc.
Click the donate button to purchase seed using Paypal.