Friday, September 5, 2014

Carrots 101

The Carrot is a root vegetable that is native to Europe and Southwestern Asia and whose wild ancestors likely came from Iran and Afghanistan. They belong to Umbelliferae family, named after the umbrella-like flower clusters that plants in this family produce and are related to parsnips, fennel, parsley, anise, caraway, cumin and dill. Carrots can be as small as two inches or as long as three feet, ranging in diameter from one-half of an inch to over two inches. The part of the Carrot used for culinary purposes is called the taproot, but the greens can be eaten as well. The taproot is where the sugar builds up in the Carrot and it comes in a variety of colors including orange, purple, white, red and yellow. The taproot has a crisp, fresh texture and is often sweet. Carrots are in season from January to March and July to December. Click here to learn more about Carrots and here to learn more about carrot varietals.

To Store

Carrots can be stored in the refrigerator (unwashed) for up to a month if stored properly. To prevent condensation wrap the carrots in a paper towel and place them in a bag or perforated bag. Excess moisture will cause them to rot. Do not store carrots next to ethylene producing fruits such as apples and pears. These gases speed up the ripening process of fruits and vegetables! To learn more about storage and long term storage click here
To Nourish

Carrots are high in Vitamin A, Biotin, Vitamin K, Fiber, Potassium and the list goes on. Click here to see an in-depth nutrient analysis of Carrots. Carrots are well known as a rich source of Beta-Carotene, an Phytonutrient Antioxidant that was actually named after them. Carrots contain a valuable amount of Antioxidants like Vitamin C, Carotenoids, Hydroxycinnamic Acids and Anthocyanindins. Given the Carrots rich amount of Antioxidants, there has been a great amount of research on their cardiovascular benefits. Carrots are also linked to vision health as well as anti-cancer benefits. Click here to learn more about the health benefits of Carrots. 

To Prepare
Almost all cooking methods apply to Carrots. Carrots can be eaten raw as a snack and in salads. They can be sautéed in stir fries. Roasted, boiled and braised, carrots are extremely versatile. To learn more about Carrot preparation and cooking methods click here.

To Try 
Carrot and Apple Juice with Ginger 
Pickled Carrots and a Quick Brine Recipe 
Escabeche (Mexican Pickled Jalapenos with Carrots) 
French Grated Carrot Salad 
Moroccan Carrot Salad with Paprika and Cumin 
Carrot Slaw 
Moosewood Carrot Soup 
Oven Baked Carrot Fries 
Roasted Carrots and Parsnips in Shallot Herb Butter 
Roasted Green Beans and Carrots with Red Onion 
Chicken Pot Pies with Root Vegetables and Thyme Crust 
Carrot, Coconut and Zucchini Bread 
Carrot Muffins 
Carrot Souffle

To Use

Three different peeling blades and OXO’s signature comfortable handles make this trio of OXO Peelers essential set for any kitchen. The set includes a julienne, serrated and swivel peeler each with a sharp stainless steel blade. The julienne peeler is perfect for citrus zest, garnishes, and firm fruits and vegetables The serrated peeler easily removes skins off waxy and slippery fruits and vegetables. The swivel peeler cuts just the peel without digging into the fruit beneath and has a built-in potato eyer. ($14.95, Williams-Sonoma)