Carrots were first cultivated in Afghanistan. Thousands of years ago, carrots were usually yellow root or small forked that have a bitter and woody flavor far from what we have today. However, during the 16th and 17th centuries, the Dutch growers developed and stabilized these vegetables, they cultivated red, purple, yellow, and even white carrots. Eventually, they managed to grow them into the popular orange carrots we’re familiar of. The modern day carrot has been bred to be crunchy, sweet, and aromatic.
Selection and Storage
Carrots are a very healthy addition to your diet. With that, it’s important to only buy carrots with good quality to ensure that you’ll get the best nutrients.
- Opt for carrots that are in good shape – As much as possible, look for carrots with good, smooth form, and a vibrant orange color.
- Always select carrots that still have the greens attached. This would make your carrots last longer and taste fresher.
- Take note of the shape of the carrots you’re planning to buy. Choose medium-sized carrots that have a somewhat pointed end. Medium-sized carrots are easier to cook compared to thick carrots.
- For sweetness, select young carrots – Slim carrots are the sweetest. However, baby carrots could be as convenient, but not as sweet as the slimmer carrots. As a matter of fact, most baby peeled carrots are just your regular carrots, cut down and sold as “baby carrots.”
- Never use carrots that have cracks, blemishes, wilting greens, rubbery texture, or those that have a “sunburned” green area on the tops.
- Start by removing the greens on your carrots. Greens consume the carrot’s moisture and nutrients.
- Place your carrots on a cutting board and with a sharp knife, cut the greens from the carrot. Be careful not to cut yourself.
- With a sheet of bubble wrap, roll up the carrots. It’s preferable to use bubble wraps that have small textured bubbles. The bubble wraps would enable the ideal amount of moisture to stay close to the carrots while preventing that moisture from gathering right on the carrots itself. Using a bubble wrap could make your carrots last for another 2 weeks.
- Never use plastic bags. They frequently contribute to rotting.
- After wrapping your carrots, place them in your refrigerator crisper.
- As much as possible, use your carrots within 2 weeks. This will ensure that you’ll still get the best nutrients and the taste.
- If you grow your own carrots, leave some on the ground. To prevent them from freezing, a little snow covering would be the key. By doing this, you’ll have some lovely crisp carrots to pick in the spring.
Ways to Cook Carrots
Veggies don’t need to be boring, they could be amazing and delicious! All you need to do is prepare them properly. We all know that a vegetable prepared one way could get turned up noses from the kids. Cooked carrots are one of them. Diced and overcooked carrots could be mushy and they’ll always end up as a waste. However, carrots that are slightly crunchy, with a little flavor could be an instant favorite. Here are some ways on how you could cook your carrots.
It’s ideal to know when and how you must blanch carrots.
- Start by trimming the carrots. Cut the carrots depending on your recipe.
- Put them in a pot of cold water and set it to boil.
- Boil for about 5-6 minutes. For older carrots, boil them for 10-12 minutes.
- Carefully drain the carrots, and they’re now ready to be used.
- Young, baby, early season, and fresh carrots don’t need blanching. However, older carrots from the end of the seasons must be blanched first in order to eliminate their bitterness.
- Don’t forget to taste test the raw ones to determine whether they need to be blanched or not.
Steaming is one of the ideal ways to prepare root crops, including carrots. Through steaming, the freshness and vitamins of the vitamins will remain intact.
- Begin by scrubbing your carrots and cut the top part. Decide whether you want to cook them whole or sliced into pieces.
- Fill the saucepan with water, just below the base of the steamer.
- Bring water to boil.
- Place the carrots in the steamer and cover it.
- Steam until tender. This will take 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your carrots.
- Check regularly after 8 minutes to ensure that it wouldn’t be overcooked.
- Serve hot.
- Steamed carrots go well with any meals and they could be served individually or from a bowl.
- To keep them warm before serving, use a serving container with a lid.
For older carrots, it’s ideal to boil them. In order to enhance the flavor, you could use vegetable or chicken stock instead of water.
- Carefully peel and slice the carrots.
- Boil your stock or salted water in a saucepan.
- When the water starts to boil, add the carrot slices and reduce the heat.
- Cover the pan and let it cook until tender, but not soft. This will take 10-15 minutes.
- Serve hot.
- To make it more presentable, sprinkle some chopped parsley on top.
- Place your cleaned carrots in a casserole dish or a baking dish. Add 2 tbsps of water and cover the dish.
- Microwave on high (100 percent power) until tender. It’s advisable to stir them once during the process. The average cooking times are as follows:
- Thin slices: 6-9 minutes
- Strips: 5-7 minutes
- Baby carrots: 7-9 minutes
Braised carrots are very yummy and sweet.
- Preheat the oven to 275 F.
- Prepare your carrots. Slice them if they’re large, or use smaller ones.
- Put the carrots in a casserole pot or a Dutch oven.
- Add 2 tsps of grated orange zest, 1/3 cup of olive oil, 1 1/4 cups of orange juice, and 1/3 cup of diced shallots.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Red pepper and fresh thyme pieces could also be added.
- Place the pot over the stove and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Remove the boiling pot from heat and cover it.
- Place in the oven and cook for another 1 1/2 hours.
- Serve hot.
- For this method, choose fat new carrots and slice them into pieces.
- Steam for about 5-8 minutes.
- In a frying pan, melt some butter, add half a cup of brown sugar and 2 tbsps of orange juice.
- Carefully toss the carrots into the frying pan.
- Heat for 1 minute and remove it after.
- Serve hot.
- You could either sprinkle some chopped parsley, or chopped nuts, such as walnuts or pecans.
- Cut the carrots in half. Either quarter them lengthwise or just cut them in halves.
- Brush with oil or melted butter.
- Place them in a roasting dish with oil or butter.
- Set the oven to 400F and roast the carrots until tender and caramelize for about 20-40 minutes.
- It’s recommended to turn them once or twice to guarantee caramelization.
- Serve hot.
Stir Fried Carrots
- Slice the carrots into julienne sticks. Thin slices are a must to ensure quick cooking.
- Add a little oil or butter to a wok or frying pan.
- Place the carrot sticks and stir fry them until tender, but with a little crisp.
- Remove from the heat.
- Serve hot.
- Slice the carrots.
- Brush them with butter or oil.
- Place them on the barbecue grill. Cook until caramelized.
- Cook the carrots in salted water. Don’t forget to add a tsp of granulated sugar and butter too.
- Drain the cooked carrots, and save the water for later use.
- Blend your cooked carrots or press them through a fine sieve.
- Heat the puree.
- Add some of the cooking liquid to the pureed carrot and stir it gently. This should only be done if the puree is too thick.
- Before removing the puree from the heat, add some butter or oil. Mix well.
- Serve hot.
- To make it creamier, add 4 tbsps of heavy cream.
The natural sweetness of the carrots makes it ideal as a sweet dish. You can turn them into a carrot cake, carrot halva, carrot cake pops, carrot cake doughnuts, and many more.
Fun Facts About Carrots
- Carrots are the second most popular type of vegetable. The first on the list are potatoes.
- There are more than 100 species of carrots.
- Carrot came from the Greek word “Karoton,” which means “red rooted.”
- As much as possible never peel off the carrot skin.
- It’s a common mistake to peel off the carrot skin. It contains the most important nutrient, the beta-carotene. Likewise, the skin contains twice as much beta-carotene compared to the carrot’s core.
Forget about vitamin A supplements. With this orange, crunchy snack, you’ll get your daily dose of vitamin A along with other health benefits, which includes the following:
- Better Vision – Carrots are rich with beta-carotene. With this, you’ll be guaranteed that it’s really “good for the eyes.” Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A once it reaches the liver. Then, to the retina, where it’s transformed into rhodopsin, a purple pigment that’s important for night vision. Furthermore, beta-carotene has also been proven to protect the eyes against macular degeneration. According to a research, people who eat the most beta-carotene have lower chances of experiencing macular generation unlike those who consume less.
- Anticancer – Carrots could reduce the risks of breast cancer, lung cancer, and even colon cancer. Researchers discovered that carrots contain falcarindiol and falcarinol. Falcarinol is a natural pesticide found in carrots. It protects the roots from fungal diseases; and it’s believed that it could also be the reason why carrots could prevent cancer.
- Anti-aging – Carrots could slow down the aging of cells. The beta-carotene found in carrots acts as an antioxidant.
- Healthy Skin (inside) – The antioxidants and vitamin A found in carrots protect the skin from sun damage. Furthermore, vitamin A could prevent acne, premature wrinkling, pigmentation, dry skin, blemishes and uneven skin tone. On the other hand, deficiencies of vitamin A could result to dryness of the hair, skin, and nails.
- A Potent Antiseptic – Herbalists proved that carrots could prevent infection. You can use them to clean cuts. Carrots could either be shredded raw, mashed, or boiled.
- Beautiful and Radiant Skin (outside) – Carrots could be a DIY facial mask. Aside from being inexpensive, they’re quite effective as well. Just mix grated carrots with a bit of honey and apply it on your face.
- Prevents Heart Disease – Having a diet that’s high in carotenoids could lower the risks of heart disease. Aside from beta-carotene, carrots also have lutein and alpha-carotene; and the regular consumption of this crunchy vegetable could reduce the cholesterol levels.
- Body Cleanse – The vitamin A found in carrots flushes out the toxins from the body. Likewise, it reduces the fat and bile in the liver, and the fiber in carrots cleans out the colon for a smoother waste movement.
- Healthy Teeth and Gums – It’s all in the crunch! If you’re not aware, carrots could keep your teeth and mouth clean. Just like toothbrushes and toothpastes, carrots could scrape off the plaque and food particles stuck between your teeth. Being an alkaline, it also balances out the cavity-forming, and acid-forming bacteria, preventing any future tooth damage.
- Prevents Stroke – A study made in Harvard University states that, eating more than 6 carrots a week could lessen the risks of suffering a stroke. If you’re going to ask why, just look at the benefits mentioned above.