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Carrots

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Preview of Carrot

Available

July 15 - March 1

Harvest Period

July 15 - October 31

Carrots are known to have been growing in the area now known as Afghanistan over 5,000 years ago. At that time, the root was a purple or lavender colour. Orange roots, containing the pigment carotene, were not noted until the 16th century in Holland. This only came about thanks to patriotic Dutch growers who bred the vegetable to have the colour of the royal House of Orange.

What to Look For

Carrot roots should be firm, smooth, relatively straight and bright in color. The deeper the orange-color, the more beta-carotene in the carrot. Avoid carrots that are excessively cracked or forked as well as those that are limp or rubbery since they are signs of age. The top, or “shoulder,” may be tinged with green, but should not be dark or black, further indications of age. If the green tops are attached, they should be brightly coloured, feathery and not wilted.

Cleaning and Preparation

If you buy carrots with “tops,” twist or cut off the leaves before storing as moisture will be drawn from the roots, turning them limp and rubbery.

Although bagged carrots usually look clean, bacteria from the soil may be present on the surface. So whether eating the carrots raw or cooked, be sure to scrub them with a vegetable brush under running water, or peel them with a vegetable peeler or paring knife; then rinse thoroughly.

Storage

Carrots are hardy vegetables that will keep longer than many others if stored properly. The trick to preserving the freshness of carrot roots is to minimize the amount of moisture they lose. Carrots can last several months in the fridge if they are first washed and cleaned of any leaves or root hairs.  Place them in perforated plastic bags or wrap in paper towel, and storing them in a 3-4 degree Celsius fridge.

Carrots should also be stored away from apples, pears, potatoes and other fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene gas since it will cause them to become bitter.

Larger quantities of carrots are best stored just above 0 degrees in waterproof containers either in damp sawdust or peat moss that must remain constantly moist. A layer of newspaper over the top of the container will retain much moisture and also allow some air circulation.

Choose smaller carrots when freezing. Wash, peel, and cut into desired size (lengths, coins, or dice). Blanch for 2 minutes, plunge into cold water, drain, and pack into freezer bags or containers.

Nutritional Information

Carrots are by far one of the richest sources of alpha and beta carotene—just one cup provides twice the recommended daily allowance. This ever-popular vegetable is also an excellent source of vitamins B, C, D, and E, as well as calcium pectate, a pectin fibre that has been found to have cholesterol-lowering properties. Carrots are also a good source of B6, thiamine, folic acid and magnesium.

1 large (8”) raw or cooked carrot has 30 calories, 0.2g fat, 6.9g carbohydrate, 2.2g fibre, and 0.7g protein.

How to Use

Most people enjoy crunching on raw carrots. However, cooking them briefly for three to four minutes breaks down the tough cellular walls and makes their nutrients (including beta-carotene) more accessible.

Varieties

Varieties grown in Ontario include Caropak, Cellobunch, Chancellor, Six-Pak, Avenger, Apache, and Caro-chief.