Did you know orange carrots are a product of Dutch patriotism? Learn about that and more in this all-inclusive guide to the carrot!
Confession: I really don’t like carrots. But with a degree in nutrition and my knack for surrounding myself with carrot-lovers (who are these people?), I think I should probably suck it up.
But why suffer if you don’t have to? This is going to be a week entirely dedicated to making carrots taste better than carrots! I hesitate to say “make carrots taste nothing like carrots”, because I’m sure with some culinary magic, a carrot can actually taste pretty good. But first, as always, let’s get ourselves started with some good ole carrot learns.
Why are carrots orange?
But first, the very important question – why are carrots orange? Well, did you know carrots used to come in a variety of colors, like white, purple, and yellow? I mean, they still do, but the widely popular orange carrot is no accident.
Today’s orange carrots are a result of 17th century patriotic Dutch agriculturists. Different variations and mutants were cross-bred until a carrot was born that represented the color of the Dutch Royal Family, orange.
Variations of carrots
Here are a few types of carrots you may find in your grocery (all Dutch, er, orange):
- Imperator Carrots: The classic orange carrot. Long and fibrous with a tapered end.
- Nantes Carrots: Like the imperator, but more cylindrical with a rounded bottom. These are easiest to grow at home, and have a sweeter flavor.
- Chantenay Carrots: These are short and stout.
- Mini or Radish-Style Carrots: These are little nuggets that may be either cylindrical (Babette Carrots) or round (Romeo Carrots)
- Baby-Cut Carrots: The perfectly shaped and shaven “Baby Carrots” you see packaged at the store are simply larger carrots that have been cut into small, cylindrical shapes. But a specific type of large carrot is bred to make these, a carrot that is thinner, sweeter, and has a more uniform orange color. And while this may seem like an unnecessary step between growing and eating, baby carrots account for 80% of carrot sales in the U.S.
How to store carrots
If stored well, carrots can last forever. Alright like a month or two or three. The key is coolness (just above 32 degrees F) and dampness (95% humidity). Here’s how to store carrots in the refrigerator:
- Chop off the greens just above the root (tip: you can use carrot greens to make pesto).
- Punch a few holes in a plastic bag and place carrots in it.
- Slightly dampen a paper towel and set in the bottom of a produce drawer in the fridge. Store carrots on top of that.
And some general tips on how to store carrots best:
- Do not wash until just before eating.
- Don’t store carrots with fruits, as some fruits give off an ethylene gas that causes ripening and decay.
- You can freeze carrots, but these are best for dishes where the carrots will be cooked, like soups and stews.
Carrot nutrition facts
Carrot nutrition information per 1 cup chopped (128g)
- Calories: 52
- Carbohydrates: 12g
- Fiber: 4g, 14% Daily Value (DV)
- Protein: 1g
- Fat: 0g
- 428% DV of Vitamin A: Provides the provitamin version of this fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it comes from a plant source and your body converts the plant pigment into active Vitamin A. It is essential in many components of healthy vision, as well as immunity and cell growth/differentiation.
- 21% DV of Vitamin K: A fat-soluble vitamin that allows for activation of enzymes in the clotting cascade, which is responsible for blood clotting. Also builds bone by modifying osteocalcin so that it may bind calcium, thus building the bone matrix.
- 13% DV of Vitamin C: A water-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant to fight against potentially damaging free radicals (molecules with unshared electrons that float around wreaking havoc) and an important cofactor in collagen synthesis.
- 12% DV of Potassium: A key mineral and electrolyte involved in countless processes, including healthy nervous system functioning and contraction of the heart and muscles.