Veggies can be a touchy subject for some. Kids hate to eat them, adults hate to eat them…Poor veggies. There are a few of us who do actually like veggies, or at least some of them. Carrots are pretty universally well-liked, I think, and are a base in so many recipes. Let’s take a closer look at them, and start off our focus on veggies in good light!
Where do carrots come from?
While carrots are native to a wide range of countries between Africa, Asia, and Europe, California is the largest producer of carrots within the United States. Michigan, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin follow closely behind to provide our plates with the veggie.
Carrots are a root vegetable, meaning they are literally the root of the plant. They grow in the ground, so if you see a little dirt on them at the store, it’s totally not a big deal.
Grown from seed, it can take up to 120 days for a carrot to mature, but under good conditions they can be ready-to-eat in about 75. If you’re growing carrots at home, they do well near onions, tomatoes, radishes, rosemary and sage.
Carrots are an excellent source of Vitamin A, in the form of beta-carotene. This means they’re great for eye health! But you already knew that. There’s much more to these veggies, though, as they’re also a good source of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, biotin and B6, potassium, and dietary fiber!
Purchasing and Storing Carrots
While most of us envision the bright orange of carrots, the veggie actually comes in a variety of colors! Yellow, red, white, and purple carrots are all variations, and provide slightly different phytochemicals.
Carrots in grocery stores can be sold by the bunch with greens still attached, as whole carrots, ir even baby carrots (precut from whole carrots to be more snackable!). Regardless of how you’re planning on purchasing them, look for carrots that are firm and straight, for the most part. You’ll want to avoid carrots that have large cracks in them or many dark spots, especially at the ends. These indicate aging. Limp and rubbery carrots are no good, either.
Once you’ve picked the prettiest carrots in the grocery store, you’ll want to make sure they stay pretty at your house! The key to this is to make sure the amount of moisture they lose is limited. Store carrots in plastic bags or wrapped in paper towels in the coolest part of the fridge.
You’ll want to store them away from apples, if you keep them in the fridge, since apples give off ethylene gas which speeds up degeneration. If you do this, carrots can keep in the fridge for a few months!
Using Carrots in the Kitchen
First things first. You’ll want to scrub your carrots with a vegetable brush to get off any remaining dirt or germs that might be hanging out on them. It’s up to you if you choose to peel them!
From there, you can eat your carrots raw or cooked. Cut them up in any fancy way you want, or go Bugs Bunny style and chomp on the whole vegetable. I like to use raw carrots as a dipper in my husband’s famously unhealthy Chicken Wing Dip (we’re from Buffalo…for the rest of you, that’s Buffalo Wing Dip -wink-). As a healthier option, shred ’em on top of a salad. You can also juice them to make carrot juice or a carrot and ginger soup!
If you choose to chop ’em up, you can slice, dice, or julienne them. From there, they can be steamed, roasted, or even sautéed. As always, lower cooking times retains more nutrients, and boiling will leach the most nutrients. Plus, boiled carrots? Blegh. (Well, unless they’re part of a soup…mmm!)
Salt and Skillet Recipes
What are some of your favorite ways to eat carrots? Do you prefer them raw or cooked?