Carrots: The Versatile Root Vegetable

Carrots are one of our favorite vegetables. They provide a good balance of sweet and mildly bitter flavors that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. 

History of Carrots

The carrots we know and love today were domesticated and derived from wild varieties which were found across Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa. Carrots were first cultivated in Persia, where they were cultivated mainly for their leaves and the seeds.Today, carrots are cultivated in temperate regions of the world including Europe, The Americas, and Southwest Asia.

Types of Carrots and Flavors

There are four main varieties of carrots: Danvers, Nantes, Imperators, and Chantenays. These types are are identified by their shape and color. 

Image Credit: ShireShy from Pixabay 

●     Danvers

These were once the favorites, owing to their flavor. Danvers are usually small in size and are often referred to as “half-sized” carrots. These are the simplest type of carrots to cultivate if you are interested in home gardening. Danvers have a deep orange color and they are extremely rich in flavor.

●     Nantes

 If the carrot you have appears to have an almost cylindrical root, which is smooth, bright orangish-red in color, then you are looking at the Nantes. Nantes has a sweet and mild flavor, and are perfectly round at both tips.

●     Imperators

Imperators can be deemed as the “perfect carrots”. The ones that you get at the super-markets. These are regular in size and have a deep orange color. Imperators are blunt at the ends. If we talk about their flavor, these types of carrots are not as sweet as the other types. However, since these are low in sugar content, they can be stored for a longer period. Due to this reason, these are the most sold carrots in America.

●     Chantenay

Chantenay carrots are short and  plump. They have a bright orange-red color and thick roots. Since these types of carrots are cultivated in bulk, these are commercially used for canned and processed carrots. Chantenays have a sweet and crisp flavor. However, if the carrots are overly matured, they can become rough and coarse.

Image Credit: Bernadette Wurzinger from Pixabay 

Health Benefits of Carrots

It’s a well-established fact that carrots are extremely nutritious. Carrots are a great source of essential antioxidants including beta carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E.

Below are a few health benefits of carrots:

●     Being rich in beta-carotene (which ultimately converts into Vitamin A), carrots are great for eye health

●     They help to reduce the risk of cancer due to the presence of antioxidants

●     Due to their high fiber content, carrots help relieve constipation

●     Carrots are great for the heart and help in keeping the blood pressure in check

Culinary Benefits of Carrots

It is said that we eat with our eyes first. And what better way to do this than to add some bright orange carrots to your dish to elevate its appearance?

Being so versatile, carrots can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Their sweet and crisp flavor works great when combined with maple syrup. But again, the mildly bitter taste also works great with any vinegar! 

Carrots can be added in a variety of ways to your favorite dishes. Roast, dice, or shred, carrots can really do it all. Also, fresh, spiralized carrots go great with pretty much any salad. Take a look at this awesome Japanese salad recipe, where carrots add a bit of texture and crunch to the overall dish.

And how can we forget the delectable combination of braised carrots and meat?! If you are looking for some inspiration, then just try out this beef and braised carrots recipe which is a delight for the palate. There are lots of savory applications that we love. Try out carrots  with lentils, chana, chicken, or maybe just in a delicious and healthy soup.

It would be a shame not to talk about carrot cake while talking about carrots. So, whip up some cream cheese frosting and slather it on top of carrot cake to enjoy with your friends and family. This recipe is our favorite. We can’t get enough of tangy cream cheese frosting along with the sweet and spicy carrot cake.

Storage of Carrots

Always place the carrots in a cool place in your refrigerator. It is advisable to remove the tops since they last for only about a week. However, you can always use the tops as a salad component in other dishes or to make carrot pesto. 

Clean the remaining of the carrot, and wrap them in a damp cloth or paper. Store it in the fridge. If stored properly, carrots can last for almost a month.

Feature Image: congerdesign from Pixabay 

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