Gastronomy 101, a blog about food and Los Angeles restaurants

INFO: Carrots 101

Carrots are my all-time favorite vegetable. I can eat carrots like nobody's business. Even at my pickiest, carrots have always been a vegetable I would eat. When I was a baby, I started to turn orange from all the carrots and it still did not diminish my love for them.

Carrots are actually a member of the parsley family, as evidenced by their greens. Root vegetables in this family are aromatic and so are often used in stocks, stews and soups.
What we eat are actually the roots. They are very high in vitamin A. In the eye, Vitamin A allows us to detect light and helps us to see. Carrots are also available year round so you always have them as a vegetable option with your dinner.

Carrots came from the Mediterranean and have been cultivated into two main groups: the reddish purple to purple black central Asian carrots and the Western carotene carrot, which is what we normally see. The Western carrot is a hybrid developed from yellow carrots of Europe, white carrots, and wild carrots.

One of the craziest facts I have ever learned is that the orange carrot was developed in Holland in the 17th century for the sole reason that the national color of the Netherlands is orange.

Buying Tips: If buying carrots with greens, make sure the leaves are moist and green. The carrot part should be firm and smooth. Carrots with cracks or that are soft or withered are past their prime. Stay away! The best carrots are young and slender.

There are some carrots that are called baby carrots, but are actually just adult carrots cut into smaller pieces and pre-peeled. These are generally not in as good shape as whole carrots, but are good for a snack. Some may have white stuff on the outside - this is harmless, just damaged outer carrot cells that dehydrated during processing.

Storage: Once you've got your carrots, you should remove the greenery and store the carrots in a plastic bag in the vegetable bin. Try not to keep them near apples, which emit a gas that can turn carrots bitter.

Preparation: If eating baby carrots (real ones, not the ones that are just cut up adult carrots) all they need is a light rinsing, while older carrots need to be peeled. If your carrots are limp (why are you laughing?!) then a dump in ice water will help recrisp them. If the carrots are old, cut out the coarse core. Blech!

Julienned Carrot Salad: Cut carrots into matchsticks (or if you're lazy like me - reasonable approximations of matchsticks) and season with salt, sugar, cayenne pepper and your favorite vinegar. Toss with chopped fresh mint and basil and a small amount of thinly sliced chile. This makes a great side dish or small lunch for a hot afternoon.

Roasted Carrots: Cut carrots into chunks and coat lightly with olive oil and then season with herbs of your choice (thyme goes well with carrots) and/or a mixture of salt, pepper, cumin and cayenne pepper and then roast in a medium-hot oven until tender and caramelized.


Hey darling! I have to show Joel this post- he loves carrots too. He sneaks them into almost everything. A limp and a dump always cracks me up (I have the sense of humor of a 12 year old boy)!

said by furry_feline at 8:55 PM Delete

It is true. I love carrots. Just heard that you wrote and entire post for them so I had to stop by. I have a secret though, I almost never peel my carrots! Just a thorough rinsing. If they are going to be cooked that is. Sometimes, and only sometimes I will peel them if I am going to eat them raw. I guess I just like the taste of dirt. Maybe this is why cumin is one of my favorite spices. (It is also true that FF has the sense of humor of a 12 y.o. boy. Poop! always elicits a chuckle)

said by 2nd-favorite at 9:32 PM Delete

I too like carats... the sparkly ones

don't have to peel them or steam them and never never swallow them

said by madame x at 10:38 PM Delete

Nick loves carrots. I will have to try the salad! Thanks!

said by Anyanka at 10:21 PM Delete

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