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Cauliflower »« Capsicum/Peppers

Carrots

Daucus carota


Photo courtesy of Horticulture New Zealand

Description

As well as being a stereotypical favourite vegetable of bunnies, the carrot is one of the most commonly eaten vegetables in the world.

A long thin taproot, carrots are usually orange, though there are also purple, red, white, and yellow varieties. Sweet and crunchy, they’re high in vitamin A and beta-carotene, which gives rise to the common belief that they’re good for eyesight.

When choosing your carrots, look for long, smooth, uncracked ones with a bright colour and a not-too-dark top. Carrots that are past their best will be wrinkled, slightly soft, and have a dull colour. As the majority of the sugars in the carrot are contained in the round inner core, generally speaking, larger carrots will have a sweeter taste. If the green tops are still attached – more likely if you’re buying from farmers’ markets than the supermarket – these should be bright green and not wilted.

Carrots keep well stored in the fridge.

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History

The carrot as we know it originates from the Netherlands – the orange colour having been cultivated as an emblem of the House of Orange, a family who led the Dutch revolt against Spanish rule in the 1500s. In its present form, it’s been around since the 17th century, though versions of it have existed in the Middle East since at least the 10th century.

Most recently, a specimen of carrot has been developed by the Vegetable Improvement Center at Texas A&M University in the United States that has purple skin and an orange centre.

Uses

Whether raw or cooked, there’s almost nothing you can’t do with the humble carrot, be it boiling, roasting, or braising. Be careful, however, as overcooking can cause loss of flavour and nutritional content. With its sweet taste and bright colour, it’s another of those vegetables that parents might find handy to encourage their children to eat vegetables.

Teamed with tangy orange, carrots make a good winter soup. Cook plenty of carrots with potatoes and any other vegetables languishing in the fridge, puree, and add seasoning and fresh orange juice to taste. A dash of pepper sauce gives an added kick if desired.

Facts

Carrots are good for you – but be careful not to eat excessive amounts, as the beta-carotene can cause your skin to turn yellow! Known as carotenaemia, the condition isn’t life-threatening or permanent.

Store carrots away from any fruits and vegetables that give off ethylene gas, such as tomatoes, apples, and pears. It can make the carrots bitter.



Cauliflower »« Capsicum/Peppers

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