This carrot produce guide is an informative guide about all things carrots, along with sweet and savory carrot recipes, including roasted carrots, carrot soup and carrot cake!
I shot the photos for this carrot produce guide and recipe round up over a month ago, which now seems like an eternity. At that point it was well before Easter, and now Cinco de Mayo is over, and Mother’s Day is staring us all in the face.
Time is flying people!
It’s still spring for now, so let’s celebrate carrots shall we??
Spring carrots are so sweet and flavorful, and I’ve been buying bunch after bunch. I specifically seek out bunches of organic carrots with beautiful, lush green carrot tops.
The flavor of these carrots are so much sweeter than the bagged carrots, and those carrot tops are downright delicious.
But we’ll get to that later. 🙂
Carrot Produce Guide
I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone that doesn’t like carrots, have you? They’re mainstream for a reason. They’re great raw or cooked, and they’re so sweet that they appeal to the pickiest of eaters.
Carrots are root vegetables that consist of the taproot, which is the tapered part of the vegetable that is most commonly eaten, and the green carrot tops.
Origin of carrots
Carrots originated in Afghanistan as early as 3000 BC. Surprisingly, early varieties of carrots were not orange, but were black, white, red and purple.
Orange, or carotene carrots, didn’t appear until the 17th century in the Netherlands.
Growing up, I’d never seen anything other than an orange carrot, but now beautiful rainbow varieties are available, including the colors white, yellow, red and purple. Each color of carrot has its own flavor and health benefits.
The main types of carrots are as follows:
Chantenay carrots: this variety is short and stout, are light orange in color, and run about 4-5″ long and 2-2 1/2″ wide. They’re some of the sweetest carrots, and are great for juicing, or eaten raw, frozen or canned. They’re very popular among farmers for their high yield.
Danver carrots: Danvers carrots are medium, or half-size carrots. They were an early orange variety, and were once a choice carrot for their great flavor.
Imperator carrots: this variety is the popular supermarket variety, and grow to be 6-7″ long. Imperator carrots are deep orange with a thin skin or peel. These carrots are generally used to produce the “baby carrots” that have been trimmed down and sold in bags for convenience.
Nantes carrots: Nantes carrots were named after the French city where they originated. This variety is about 7″ long and 1 – 1 1/2″ wide, and they’re very tender and sweet.
There are many boutique varieties of rainbow carrots as well. If you want more info, click here.
How to use carrots
Carrots are so versatile, and may be juiced, eaten raw, roasted, or cooked in a variety of dishes.
Carrots are one of the main building blocks of cooking. You’ve probably heard the term mirepoix, which is French culinary term for diced carrots, celery, onion and garlic.
These ingredients are aromatics that provide flavor for meat and vegetable broth, soups, stews and a multitude of dishes.
When you buy a beautiful bunch of carrots with lush carrot tops, don’t throw those tops away! Carrot tops are delicate, herbaceous and flavorful, and contain more nutrition than the actual carrot.
Basically, carrot tops taste like carrot-flavored parsley. They make the best pesto sauce (see my recipe for carrot top pesto), as well as any type of herb-based sauce like chimichurri or Italian salsa verde.
Carrot tops are also a great addition to salads!
How to grow carrots
I’ve had success growing carrots in my garden, but it’s kind of a funny story.
My garden was brand new, and I was planting everything by seed. I set markers in my garden beds so that I knew what was growing where, and one of the rows was reserved for my carrot seeds, which I planted about an 1″ deep and 2″ apart.
Nothing happened. My friend told me that sometimes seeds just don’t take, so I just gave up on my carrots. One year later, some green tops started sprouting, and I had no idea what they were.
I’d forgotten all about the carrots that I’d planted a year earlier! I waited a few months, and decided to dig up whatever was growing there.
One was a regular sized orange carrot, and the other was the biggest carrot I’d ever seen! It was white and was about a food long and 2″ wide.
It didn’t taste very good because the longer carrots grow, the more earthy and woody flavored they become.
I haven’t tried growing carrots since, because I just don’t think it’s worthwhile as organic carrots are so inexpensive and widely available. Maybe I’ll grow them again one day?
The good news is that carrots are easy to grow. I suspect that mine took so long because my garden was brand new when I planted my seeds.
Carrots grow in raised beds, containers, and pretty much anywhere, as long as they’re planted in full sun.
Plant carrot seeds in early spring or mid summer, and enjoy the harvest from late spring to early winter, depending on which variety you plant.
You can even grow carrots from carrot tops! Follow the instructions here.
Health benefits of carrots
Carrots are very nutritious, as they’re a good source of beta carotene (especially the orange varieties), potassium, fiber, Vitamin K1 and antioxidants.
There are many benefits to eating carrots, as they’re also linked to reducing cholesterol levels, improving eye sight, and possibly reducing the risk of cancer.
86-95% of carrots is composed of water, while the rest is carbohydrates. One serving of raw carrots contains 41 calories, 9.6 grams carbs, 4.7 grams sugar, and 2.8 grams fiber.
Check out the 39 carrot recipes below, including carrot cake, carrot soup, and roasted carrots!