Is there anyone that doesn’t like carrots? Carrots are one of the most popular root vegetables and are known for their bright orange color. However, with growing interest in different and more exotic varieties of foods, carrots with more unique colors such as purple, yellow, and white, are becoming increasingly popular.
Carrots can be consumed raw or cooked and come in variety of sizes. Miniature carrots can be washed and eaten directly while larger carrots should be peeled. Carrots have a variety of uses—serve grated over salads or in sandwiches, mix them into cakes and muffins, add them to soups or stews, or simply eat steamed, baked, or sautéed. Carrots make a healthy snack raw or as a juice (like our Sonatural Carrot juice!)
The carrot originates from Central Asia and Middle Eastern countries and was originally deep purple, lavender, and aborigine. This was due to the presence of the phytonutrient anthocyanin, which led to its pigmented color. A variety of these ancient carrots in yellow were found in Afghanistan as well.
Carrots did not become popular in Europe until the Renaissance, probably because early varieties had a sturdier and fibrous texture. Beginning in the 17th century, European farmers began to grow different varieties of carrots, which led to the development of the orange carrot, a carrot that had a more palatable texture than its ancient predecessors.
Europeans have long-favored this orange variety over the purple one, which is still cultivated wildly in other parts of the world, including South Asia and North Africa. Carrots were introduced to North America when as Europeans began to colonize territories there.
Due to its booming population in the early 1800s, the carrot became the first vegetable to be canned. Today, the United States, France, England, Poland, China, and Japan are among the largest producers of carrots.
Carrots are an excellent source of carotenoids (responsible for its orange color), particularly beta-carotene (important for skin and organ health) as well as vitamin A (100 grams of a carrot has the daily recommended amount of vitamin A) vitamin E (prevents tissue damage), and folic acid (essential for a functioning immune, nervous and cardiovascular system. Carrots are also high in dietary fiber, which helps promote digestive health and simple sugars (levulose and dextrose), which are easily absorbed into the body. Carrots are great for low calorie food diets, consisting of approximately 90% water, such that raw carrots have more calories than when cooked (19 calories versus 17 calories per 100 grams of carrot).
Use / Conservation
First remove the leaves. If you plan on consuming soon, store in a closed, plastic bag in the refrigerator drawer for up to a week. To store for longer periods of time, boil the carrots for a minute, then rinse with cold water. Dry, place in a small bag, and freeze them for up to store up to one year.
How to Grow
The carrot grows best in temperatures between 16-22 degrees Celsius, though some heartier varieties are able to adapt to slightly higher temperatures. However, the minimum for planting should be at least 8 degrees Celsius. However, well-developed plants can withstand low temperatures, as the roots survive underground even when the foliage dies, waiting for warmer temperatures in the spring to flower again. However, temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius can be detrimental to both plant growth and flavor.
Carrots can be planted throughout the year. The first step is to get your desired variety of carrots. Choose a location with some sun exposure, protected from frost in a deep place with light and well drained soil with a pH of 6-6.5 and rich in organic matter or compost. Prepare the garden bed for planting the seeds by creating a layer of soil thin and light enough for the seed and remove stones.
Plant the seeds using fine sand to help scatter the seeds. If you prefer, make rows spaced 20-30 cm and spread the seeds along the rows as evenly as possible. The depth of the sowing should not exceed 1 cm due to its size. Lightly cover the seeds to protect them from birds and keep them warm during sowing. If you have a sprinkler, lightly moisten the sown area but do not soak.
Maintain moisture in the soil but without excess. Watering carrots correctly will lead to smoother carrots. Overwatering the plants will lead to root rot. Water in the morning and remove weeds regularly for a healthy crop.
Depending on the cycle of your selected carrot variety, you may begin harvesting your carrots between 60-130 days. Start by plucking a few plants to check the development of the root. If you see cracks in the ground, this may indicate that it is time to harvest. Once carrots reach their optimum growth, carrots can remain in the soil for a few weeks, but keep in mind that the longer they stay in the ground, the more fibrous the roots become and the less pleasant their flavors become.
Do you know
In the 1600s, carrot leaves were used as hat accessories in England?
That there are more than a hundred species of carrots in purple, white and red varieties?
Due to the carrots popularity in the early 1800s, the vegetable was the first to be canned?
When buying, choose smooth, untouched and brightly colored carrots. Make sure they are not broken, cracked or punctured. If you are buying a bunch with the leaves on, make sure it looks fresh and alive.