Carrots have been renowned for over 2000 years for their health giving properties and high vitamin A content. After potatoes, carrots are without doubt our best known and best loved root vegetable. In the days when vegetables were served merely as an accessory to meat, carrots always made an appearance. Often overcooked but still eaten up because, we were told, they helped you see in the dark.
Carrots have many different flavors, depending on how they are cooked. Young, new season carrots braised in butter and a splash of water are intensely flavored and sweet. When steamed, they are tender and melting. Carrots grated into salads are fresh and clean tasting, while in casseroles they are savory with the characteristic carrot flavor. In soups they are fragrant and mild, and in cakes their flavor can hardly be detected, yet their sweetness adds richness.
Seeds germinate best under cool moist conditions in the fall and spring,
but may be started in slightly warmer weather if the soil is kept moist.
Use or prepare soil that is deep and friable to avoid misshapen roots.
Do not plant in areas where young plants may be subject to long periods
of cold temperatures, which favor bolting. Thin so that plant roots
are 1 to 2 inches apart in a row.
For harvesting, depending on variety, pull when about 3/4" to 1 1/2" in diameter. The top of the carrot will show at the soil line and you can gauge when diameter looks correct for the variety. If the diameter looks good, chances are the length is fine too.
Carrots can be stored in the ground during cool winter months, unless
freezes are expected. If frosts are predicted dig up and store the carrots.
If carrots are left too long in the soil or allowed to over-mature,
the roots become tough and woody, and may crack.
Carrots contain large amounts of carotene and vitamin A, along with useful amounts of vitamin B3, C, and E. When eaten raw, they also provide good quantities of potassium, calcium, iron, and zinc, but these are reduced when carrots are boiled.
Holtville, CA calls itself the "Carrot Capital of the World,"
and to acknowledge such a prestigious title holds the annual Carrot
Festival every year since 1948 in late January. They refer to it as
"The annual community salute to the carrot." The carrot festival
comprises a week long schedule of events, culminating in a hugely entertaining
Millennium restaurant in San Francisco does a great side dish of thyme roasted carrots.
Glazed Carrots with Cider
Serves 4, from - Vegetarian and Vegetable Cooking, by Christine Ingram
This recipe is extremely simple to make. The carrots are cooked in the minimum of liquid to bring out the best of their flavor, and the cider adds a pleasant sharpness.
1 pound young carrots
1 ounce butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup cider
4 tablespoons vegetable stock or water
1 tablespoon French mustard
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley.
1. Trim the tops and bottoms off the carrots. Peel or scrape them. Using
a sharp knife cut the carrots into julienne.
2. Melt the butter in a saucepan; add the carrots and sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Sprinkle over the sugar and cook, stirring for one minute or until the sugar has dissolved.
3. Add the cider and stock of water bring to a boil and stir in the French mustard. Partially cover the pan and simmer for about 10 - 12 minutes until the carrots are just tender. Remove the lid and continue cooking until liquid has reduced to a thick sauce.
4. Remove the saucepan from the heat, stir in the parsley and then spoon
into a warmed serving dish.
If the carrots are cooked before the liquid in the saucepan has reduced,
transfer the carrots to a serving dish and rapidly boil the liquid until
thick. Pour over the carrots and sprinkle with parsley.
Carrot, Apple, and Orange Coleslaw
Serves 4 - Vegetarian and Vegetable Cooking, by Christine Ingram
This is as delicious as it is easy to make. The garlic and herb dressing adds the necessary contrast to the sweetness of the salad.
12 ounces young carrots, finely grated
2 eating apples
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 large orange
For the dressing:
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons sunflower oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoon chopped mixed fresh herbs: tarragon, parsley, chives, can and freshly ground black pepper.
1. Place the carrots in a large serving bowl. Quarter the apples, remove the core and then slice thinly. Sprinkle with the lemon juice to prevent the discoloring and then add the carrots.
2. Using a sharp knife, remove the peel and pith from the oranges and then separate into segments.
3. To make the dressing, place all the ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously.
4. Just before serving, Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well together.
Serves 4 to 6
From The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market Cookbook, by Christopher Hirsheimer and Peggy Knickerbocker
2 bunches of carrots, trimmed and peeled
2 tablespoons butter melted
1 tablespoon brown sugar, molasses, or honey
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup rich beef stock
chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Put the carrots in a baking dish, drizzle with the butter, sprinkle with the brown sugar or other sweetener, and season with salt and pepper.
Roll the carrots around to be sure that they are evenly coated. Pour
into the stock.
Put the dish in the oven and roast the carrots, basting every 15 minutes or so with the dish juices, until they are very soft when pierced with a knife tip, about 45 minutes. Serve garnished with the parsley.
Resources used for information:
NEW VARIETIES WILL BE ARRIVING WEEKLY.
BE SURE TO STOP BY AND SEE THIS WEEK'S SELECTION.
LOOK FOR THE SEEDS.
- Vegetarian and Vegetable Cooking, by Christine Ingram
- The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market Cookbook,
by Christopher Hirsheimer and Peggy Knickerbocker
- The New Food Lover's Companion, by Sharon Tyler Herbst
- UC Davis, Vegetable and Information Center, (various leaflets)
- Sunset Western Garden Book, edited by Kathleen Norris Brenzel