Peeling red beets can be messy and frustrating. Try this method for a smooth beet that retains its beautiful maroon color.
Wear kitchen gloves and apron when handling and peeling beets to prevent juice from staining hands and clothing.
Wash and gently scrub beets. If tops and root still are attached, cut off top about 1/2 inch above the beet's bulb. Leave about 1/4 inch on the root. This will help retain the beet's deep maroon color.
Place beets in saucepan; add water to almost cover them. Bring water to a gentle boil on high heat, then immediately lower heat to simmer. For larger beets (2 1/2 inch diameter), simmer for about 10 minutes; for smaller beets, 5 to 8 minutes. The goal is to loosen the beets' outermost layer for easy peeling, not to cook the beet.
Use slotted spoon to move beets from pan; discard cooking water. Allow beets to cool a few minutes before peeling.
When beets are still warm but possible to handle, use paring knife to cut off remaining top and root even with bulb. Starting with top or bottom of bulb, begin a thin cut as if to pare the beet. With the cut beet skin between the knife blade and your thumb, grab and pull the skin. The piece should come off easily.
Repeat until beet is peeled completely. Beets are then ready for cooking or using in salads.