Vitamin A is derived
from beta-carotene and carrots are a major source of this substance.
Carotenoids, the group of plant pigments of which beta-carotene is a
member, are so named because they were first identified in carrots.
This ever-popular vegetable is also a source of disease-fighting flavonoids,
and carrots contain a specific type of fibre, called calcium pectate,
which may lower blood cholesterol.
the exception of beets, carrots contain more sugar than any other vegetable,
which makes them a satisfying snack eaten raw and a tasty addition to
a variety of cooked dishes. In fact, some of the nutrients in carrots
are more easily absorbed when the vegetable has been cooked, even briefly.
carrot belongs to the Umbelliferae family, and is recognisable
by its feathery leaves as a relative of parsley, dill, fennel and celery.
In earlier times, carrots were small red, yellow, or purple roots; the
elongated orange carrot, forerunner of today's familiar vegetable, was
probably developed in the seventeenth century in Holland.
markets sell carrots in bunches with their tops still on, but usually
at a higher price than bagged carrots. Some consumers see the tops as
an indication of freshness, which indeed they are—if crisp and
bright green. However, refrigeration and moisture-retaining packaging
are the best preservers of freshness: If carrots are displayed unwrapped
at room temperature, they will lose sweetness and crispness, with or
without their leafy crown.
for well-shaped carrots; they should not be gnarled or covered with
hairlike rootlets. Their colour should be a healthy reddish orange,
not pale or yellow, from top to bottom (the darker the orange color,
the more beta carotene is present). The top, or "shoulder,"
may be tinged with green, but should not be dark or black, both indications
of age. However, the green part is likely to be bitter (it should be
trimmed before eating); if carrots are very green on top, they should
not be purchased. Also, avoid carrots that are cracked, shriveled, soft,
young carrots are likely to be mild flavoured and tender, but, surprisingly,
mature carrots are often sweeter, with a dense, close-grained texture.
Regardless of its age, the smaller a carrot's core (the fibrous channel
that runs the length of the vegetable), the sweeter the carrot: This
is because its natural sugars lie in the outer layers. Usually, you
can't see the core until you cut the carrot, but any carrots that have
large, thick shoulders are likely to have large cores, too.
To preserve their flavour and texture, carrots should be refrigerated.
Keep them in the coldest part of the refrigerator , in their original
plastic bag. If they were purchased loose, place them in a perforated
or loosely closed plastic bag. Don't store carrots together with apples,
pears, or other fruits that produce ethylene gas as they ripen (even
in the refrigerator, ripening of such fruits slows, but does not cease).
Exposure to ethylene gas will turn carrots bitter.
you buy carrots with "tops," twist or cut off the leaves before
storing. Otherwise, the greens will soon wilt and decay; furthermore,
moisture will be drawn from the roots, turning them limp and rubbery.
Although bagged carrots usually look clean, bacteria from the soil may
be present on the surface. So whether eating the carrots raw or cooking
them, be sure to scrub them with a vegetable brush under running water,
or peel them with a vegetable peeler or paring knife; then rinse thoroughly.
you enjoy crunching on raw carrots, then do so. However, since carrots
have tough cellular walls that the body cannot easily break down, cooking
them just until crisp-tender actually makes their nutrients (including
beta-carotene) more accessible.
cooking brings out the sweetness in carrots. They can be left whole
or cut into short lengths; halving them lengthwise will reduce cooking
time. If you prefer, cut them straight or diagonally crosswise into
"coins," or slice them into julienne (matchstick-size) strips.
Grated or shredded carrots also cook very quickly. A food processor
is handy for slicing or shredding.