A root vegetable that is crunchy, full of nutrients, and sweet, carrot usually comes in several sizes, shapes, and colors, such as orange, purple, black, red, white, and yellow cultivars exist. It is also a weight-loss-friendly food and has been linked to lower cholesterol levels and improved heart health. The roots have an elongated, slender shape depending on growing conditions and the individual cultivar. It contains high amounts of alpha- and beta-carotene and is a good source of different vitamins.
Species: D. Carota
Binomial name: Daucus carota
- There are more than a hundred varieties of carrots worldwide.
- February 3rd is National Carrot Cake Day.
- Carrots are the second most famous type of vegetable after potatoes.
- People first grew carrots as medicine, not food, for a variety of ailments.
- The voice of cartoon character Bugs Bunny named Mel Blanc reportedly did not like carrots.
- The biggest carrot recorded is more than 8.6 kilograms, and the longest is over 19 feet.
- About 2000 seeds of carrots can fit in a teaspoon.
- Carrots can scrape off plaque and food particles, just like toothbrushes or toothpaste.
- Carrots have a higher natural sugar content than all other vegetables, except for beets.
- A rabbit eating one carrot is like us eating over 20.
Look for carrots that are smooth, firm to the touch, and crisp, with deep color. Fresher carrots have more intense pigmentation. You can also see the carrot’s freshness by the color of its leaves. Fresher carrots have brighter green leaves. Wilted leaves are a sign that the carrot has been sitting on the shelf for a while.
Avoid carrots that are excessively split, wilted, have begun to sprout, or have soft spots. Soft spots are a sign of decay. The coloring on a good carrot must be consistent from top to bottom. Dark coloring at the crown indicates that carrots are old.
If you want sweet carrots, pick larger ones because they tend to signify longer growing times. If the carrot is more prolonged in the ground, the more sugar it will develop. Also, most of the small carrots are regular carrots cut down to size and aren’t sweeter.
Production & Farming in Texas
Carrots can be produced in a wide range of soil types but grow best in a deep, well-drained sandy loam with no hardpan. According to the USDA, 69,500 acres of Carrots were harvested for the fresh market in 2009. An additional 12,500 acres were harvested for processing.
Texas ranks 5th in U.S. production, with 9,400 acres are grown in Texas and annual revenue that exceeds $20 million. 60% of this is for the fresh market, and 40% is for the processing. They are planted in July to November for a staggered harvest from December to May. Most of Texas commercial carrots are machine harvested. Those grown for fresh market may be hand-harvested but are generally dug mechanically. The main production is in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, with approximately one half of the Texas carrot production followed by the South West of San Antonio and Lubbock.
Foliage feeding insects such as aphids, armyworms, flea beetles, leafhoppers, and mites are occasional pests of carrots. They can destroy the plant stems and leaves, causing crop losses of up to 25% but can be controlled with pesticides and insecticides. Biological controls are seldom used since quality is essential.
Carrots are native to large sections of the world’s geography, including Africa, Asia, and Europe. Its origin can be traced back to about 5,000 years in present-day Afghanistan in Asia through historical documents and paintings. Their seeds were then transported across Africa, Europe, and Eastern Asia and were sold during trade expeditions. Orange carrots first appeared in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries, quickly displacing other varieties and dominating the market. European settlers introduced it to colonial America in the 17th century.
They have become naturalized to many other parts of the world and are widely cultivated as a food crop. Today, many heirloom varieties and orange carrots can be found at local farmer’s markets, specialty grocers, and in-home gardens in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
Carrots are packed in different packages, such as crates, fruit crates, trays, sacks, plastic bags, or nets of different materials and weights.
The carrots with leaves are usually sold in bunches, and packaged in wooden or cardboard boxes, in one or half kilo bunches, sometimes prepackaged with plastic film, and arranged in one or several layers, allowing suitable air ventilation.
The prepackaging of carrots without leaves is made in plastic bags of different sizes, expanded polyethylene trays, polyvinyl chloride or propylene of 0.5 to 1kg of capacity.
Carrots are crunchy when eaten raw with a sweet or bitter flavor. It can add flavor, color, and plenty of extra nutrition to any meals. They are widely used in many cuisines, especially in the preparation of salads, and carrot salads are a tradition in many regional cuisines. The leaves are also safe to eat with an herbaceous, parsley-like taste.
Once you get home, cut off the leaves, and refrigerate the carrots in an unsealed plastic bag. You can store it at the bottom or inside a crisper. Keeping the carrots dry can help them to last longer. Try lining the bag with paper towels and change out damp towels once or twice a week. Do not put the carrots next to any fruits like apples, bananas, and pears, which would speed up its ripening process. With proper storage, carrots will last for about two weeks. If kept dried, they may last for over a month.
Carrots may also be blanched and frozen to last up to eight months, but they will lose some nutrients and flavor.
Do not wash carrots until ready to use. Carrots can be a great raw snack, but their authentic sweet flavor shines through when cooked. They are one of the most versatile and fundamental ingredients in culinary recipes, used in fresh and cooked form for both sweet and savory recipes.
Before cooking, gently scrub them under cold running water to remove all the dirt on the surface. Next, trim the ends of the carrots and peel if desired. If you peel carrots, peel only one layer from the surface. Cut the bad spots with a small knife if necessary.
Steaming is your best bet for cooking carrots. It can also easily be added to soups, stews, or roasted in a pan with your favorite meats, to add healthy vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids to make any meal healthier. The nutrients in lightly cooked carrots are more usable by your body than those in raw carrots because cooking breaks down their tough cell walls, which releases beta-carotene.
The roots can also be shredded into coleslaws, sandwiches, wraps, scallion pancakes, and baked goods. In cooked preparations, Carrots can be roasted with other winter root vegetables as a caramelized side dish, boiled for a soft and tender consistency, cooked and blended into natural baby food, or pickled for use as a condiment, especially in Vietnamese cuisine.
Carrots pair well with almonds, bacon, butter, celery, cheeses such as cheddar, parmesan and pecorino, cinnamon, cream, ginger, parsley, potatoes, mushrooms, shallots, tomatoes, and red or white wine vinegar.
The health benefits of carrots include reduced cholesterol, lower risk of heart attacks, prevention of certain cancers, improved vision, and reduced signs of premature aging. Carrots also can enhance the skin, boost the immune system, improve digestion, protect cardiovascular health, detoxify the body, and promote oral health in a variety of ways. They also provide a well-rounded influx of vitamins and minerals.
Most of the benefits of carrots can be attributed to their beta-carotene and fiber content. These root vegetables are also a good source of antioxidants. Furthermore, they are rich in vitamins A, C, K, and B8, as well as pantothenic acid, folate, potassium, iron, copper, and manganese.
Carrots are mainly composed of water and carbs. The carbs consist of starch and sugars, such as sucrose and glucose. They are also a relatively good source of fiber, with one medium-sized carrot providing 2 grams.
Soluble fibers can lower blood sugar levels by slowing down your digestion of sugar and starch. It can impair the absorption of cholesterol from your digestive tract, lowering blood cholesterol.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin A: This nutrient promotes good vision and is essential for growth, development, and immune function.
Biotin: A B vitamin, formerly known as vitamin H, biotin plays a vital role in fat and protein metabolism.
Vitamin K1: Also known as phylloquinone, vitamin K1 is essential for blood coagulation and can promote bone health
Potassium: An essential mineral, potassium is necessary for blood pressure control.
Vitamin B6: A group of related vitamins, B6 is involved in the conversion of food into energy.
When Are Carrots in Season in Texas?
To find out when Carrots are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.