Carrots are one of the most widely eaten foods on the planet due to their versatility and durability. They’re used in savory and sweet dishes. Carrots are grown for the taproots that form below the surface. Above ground they have ferny leaves, which grow from the top or crown of the root. Carrots are most commonly orange with a tapered root, although size, shape, and even color can vary. Some varieties are more rounded and shaped like a top, some carrots are harvested young as “baby carrots”, and colors can range from bright orange to purple to white, or even yellow!
Best Storage Practices:
Store carrots in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator (32 to 36 degrees F) in a bag. Make sure to remove the greens if they have them otherwise the carrots will wilt. Mature carrots can last for 4 to 6 weeks. Young carrots are best eaten within 2 weeks.
Fun Ways to Eat and Cook:
Wash, remove top and tail and eat raw, skin and all. Carrot sticks are great for school snacks, with dips, in salads or pureed as a healthy fresh drink. Stir-fry, boil, steam, microwave about 4-8 minutes, depending on the size and quantity. Serve as a side dish, in casseroles, soups, cakes or sauces. Baby carrots are best left whole and cooked 3-5 minutes.
Select brightly colored, firm, well-shaped roots. When the tops are still attached, look for fresh, green leaves. Avoid any carrots that are dry, wilted, shriveled, soft or split.
Why it's Good to Eat:
- Rich source of carotenoids, especially beta carotene. Our bodies convert beta carotene to vitamin A which helps with night vision.
- High in folate (especially baby carrots) one of the B vitamins, which may help prevent birth defects
- Good source of dietary fiber
When it's in Season:
Carrots are grown in the fall and spring. Due to their long storage life they are usually available throughout the winter.
How it's Harvested:
Carrots need deep, sandy soil, plenty of water and a temperate or cool climate. The root grows in one season, usually over 1 to 2 months and then is ready to harvest. This means that carrots can be stored in the ground over winter until needed. To harvest, the ground is gently loosened so the carrots can be pulled out by their tops without breaking the root.
Sauté, boil, microwave, or bake until soft. Add a little butter and salt and serve!