In Morocco, beetroot is usually served as a raw grated or cooked beet salad with a light vinaigrette and a sprinkle of parsley as garnish. But we also give this healthy vegetable another treatment—we make a refreshing Moroccan beetroot juice that’s flavored with orange juice and orange blossom water. Sugar is usually added in generous quantities and the juice is thinned with either the cooking water from steaming or boiling the beets, or alternatively with just plain cold water.
There is another unusual ingredient added to Moroccan beetroot juice and unless you try it, you may find it weird. That ingredient is vinegar. Don’t be tempted to omit it as it really does enhance the overall flavor of the juice.
In Fez, where this beverage is very common, Moroccan beetroot juice is usually served after lunch or with dessert to help digest a copious meal. In our family, we often serve beetroot juice or radish and orange juice at the end of a family gathering.
You can use precooked and packed whole beetroot sold in supermarkets, but as usual, fresh beets that you cook yourself are best. As for the orange juice, freshly squeezed is a must.
Beetroot juice is a healthy morning boost
I learned somewhere that drinking beetroot juice in the morning has many health benefits, so I am now having it at least a couple of times a week for breakfast. Those health benefits are apart from the usual excessive addition of sugar. But honestly, when in Morocco, the oranges are so sweet that adding sugar is not needed.
I usually make enough juice for three days, thinning it with water or orange juice as needed since it thickens as it sits and chills.
Whether to quench thirst on a hot sunny day or just help start the day with a boost, this Moroccan beetroot juice is a family favorite. We like to keep the beetroot juice tradition alive by serving it at most of our family gatherings in Fez.
While you can make this juice using prepacked unseasoned beetroots from the supermarket or parboil/steam them (wait for them to cool), it is a must to use freshly squeezed orange juice and pure orange blossom water, never an imitation or extract.
- 1 red beetroot, medium size washed and cut in 4
- 1/2 cup water, chilled
- 1/2 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 1/2 tsp white vinegar
- 1 tsp orange blossom water
- 1 tsp sugar or to taste
Wash the beetroot thoroughly by scrubbing it with a kitchen brush. Peel off the upper ring which tend to have some dirt in it and leave the rest of the skin.
Parboil or steam the beet for about 20 min or until a knife can cut through without effort.
Transfer the beet to a bowl and wait for it to cool down. Rub it with your fingers to peel it; you will see that the skin comes off easily. Let cool completely before using it.
Squeeze orange or clementine juice.
Process all the ingredients in a blender for a minute, or until the juice looks smooth.
Chill for at least a couple of hours before serving.
- As with all Moroccan recipes, always use pure orange blossom water and never the extract.
- It is also important to use freshly squeezed orange or clementine juice (whichever, or a mix) for any Moroccan recipe calling for orange juice.
- A medium-size beetroot is about 4.5 oz/ 125 gr and to this, we usually add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of liquid to make a standard beetroot juice. It is not supposed to be served thick, so as it sits and chills, I thin it with more liquid.
- You can use 2/3 orange juice to 1/3 water or 50-50, it does not really matter.
- Even if you are against the addition of sugar, I find a teaspoon of it makes it taste better. You could use thin honey as a substitute.
- During my trips, I've come across some disturbingly sweet beetroot and some excessively sweet oranges; if you have these varieties in hand, you might get away with the omission of sugar.
- Do not omit the vinegar, as it really does make a difference without leaving a taste.