Carrots are one of the first vegetables children learn to recognize.
We usually associate it mainly with the color orange and a positive effect on our vision.
But this root hides much more.
Do you know that it is also very beneficial for our digestion and heart?
What is the difference between a carrot and a carrot?
And what about the eternal question of whether to peel or not to peel carrots?
Let’s take a closer look at this extraordinarily common crop.
Carrot or carrot?
Common carrot or Daucus carota belongs to root vegetables together with parsley, celery, horseradish or radish. Actually, she is the most famous one. All the carrot varieties we see today were originally bred from the wild common carrot, which was characterized by a thin white root.
The typical color of today’s carrots is orange, however, depending on the variety, other color variants can also be found, for example purple, red, white or yellow. Varieties that have a different color from the outside than the inside are no exception.
What is a baby carrot?
The term carrot is also often used in connection with carrots. This is one of the early carrot varieties, which has a soft flesh with a sweet taste and the shape of its root is more rounded, without the typical pointed end.
Are you a baby carrot lover? Despite the mistaken belief of many of us, this is not a special variety, but an ordinary carrot chopped and ground into a typical shape. It mostly comes from carrots that wouldn’t last in stores because of their appearance, so they’re modified. It first appeared at the turn of the 80s and 90s in America, from where it quickly spread to other countries.
What does carrots contain?
Carrots are widely known as an excellent source of beta-carotene, which is subsequently converted into vitamin A in the body. In addition, this root vegetable is also rich in other vitamins and minerals, especially potassium. Last but not least, it is also a great source of fiber. It is interesting to compare carrots with two other representatives of root vegetables, parsley and celery.
Nutritional values of carrots
| Raw carrot|
| Boiled carrots|
| Raw parsley|
| Raw celeriac|
|Energy||41 kcal||35 calories||36 kcal||42 kcal|
|Water||88.3 g||90.2 g||87.7 g||88 g|
|Carbohydrates||9.58 g||8.22 g||6.33 g||9.2 g|
|Proteins||0.93 g||0.76 g||2.97 g||1.5 g|
|Fats||0.24 g||0.18 g||0.79 g||0.3 g|
|Fiber||2.8 g||3 g||3.3 g||1.8 g|
Vitamins and minerals
| Raw carrot|
| Boiled carrots|
| Raw parsley|
| Raw celeriac|
|Beta-carotene||8280 µg||8330 µg||5050 µg||0 µg|
|Vitamin B1||0.066 mg||0.066 mg||0.086 mg||0.05 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.058 mg||0.044 mg||0.098 mg||0.06 mg|
|Vitamin B3||0.983 mg||0.645 mg||1.31 mg||0.7 mg|
|Vitamin B5||0.273 mg||0.232 mg||0.4 mg||0.352 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.138 mg||0.153 mg||0.09 mg||0.165 mg|
|Vitamin C||5.9 mg||3.6 mg||133 mg||8 mg|
|Potassium||320 mg||235 mg||554 mg||300 mg|
|Phosphorus||35 mg||30 mg||58 mg||115 mg|
|Magnesium||12 mg||10 mg||50 mg||20 mg|
|Sodium||69 mg||58 mg||56 mg||100 mg|
|Calcium||33 mg||30 mg||138 mg||43 mg|
|Zinc||0.24 mg||0.2 mg||1.07 mg||0.33 mg|
|Iron||0.3 mg||0.34 mg||6.2 mg||0.7 mg|
Why eat carrots
Thanks to the many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that carrots contain, they give us countless reasons to include them in our diet.
- Eye health – this property is mainly due to the large amount of beta-carotene, which is subsequently converted into vitamin A in our body. This is very important for the nutrition of the retina. In addition to beta-carotene, carrots also contain other substances, such as lutein, which protect our eyesight from various other problems and diseases, such as macular degeneration or cataracts.
- Digestive system – this root vegetable contains a large amount of fiber, which has a very positive effect on our intestines. One of the problems that regular consumption of raw carrots helps to prevent is constipation. On the other hand, cooked carrots, for example in the form of carrot puree, is a simple but proven way to help us get rid of diarrhea.
- Cardiovascular disease – everyone who has problems with high cholesterol should regularly include carrots in their diet. Studies have proven that it helps lower cholesterol levels, thereby benefiting our heart.
- Immune system – due to the high content of various antioxidants and vitamin C, eating carrots strengthens our immune system and prevents various diseases and inflammations.
- Weight control – similar to most vegetables, carrots contain very few calories and at the same time a large amount of water. It is thus one of the frequently recommended foods for reduction diets.
Cooked or raw carrots?
Carrots are one of those vegetables that are better eaten cooked than raw. It is precisely because of beta-carotene. While our body is able to absorb approximately 25% of this important antioxidant from raw carrots, we absorb twice as much from cooked carrots. By the way, it is not true that only orange varieties of carrots contain beta-carotene, it can be found in all color variants, but its amount varies slightly.
To peel or not to peel?
One of the questions that is often discussed in connection with carrots. The answer depends on several factors, primarily the method of preparation and personal preference. Some people do not like the bitter taste of the peel. With the peel, of course, we also remove some health-promoting substances that are hidden in it and just below it.
In general, it is not necessary to peel carrots when preparing salads, soups, before stewing or baking. It is more convenient to peel it when using it in carrot cakes or preparing children’s puree. The suitability of eating the peel also depends, of course, on whether the carrot has been treated with pesticides.
How to deal with carrots in the kitchen
One of the advantages of carrots is that they can be prepared in many ways, from salads with raw carrots, to cooking or stewing, to use in baking dough.
Are you also one of those who like to bite into raw fresh carrots? Then cut it into pieces or grate it and use it to prepare tasty carrot salads , one of those that can’t be done without carrots is, for example, Coleslaw.
If you like to bake and want to prepare various buns and cakes in a healthier form, add grated carrots to the dough. In this way, you will not only give the dough a sweet taste, but the dough will also be more elastic. Do you know how to bake the most delicious carrot cake with which you will surprise all your visitors?
In addition, you can of course also juice raw carrots. The juice can then be drunk on its own or combined with other types of fruit and vegetables and processed into a healthy detox smoothie .
Clean the carrots and boil them whole or chopped in lightly salted water until soft, it depends on how you want to use the carrots. One way is to puree it. You can also mix boiled carrots with butter and finely chopped fresh herbs.
Boiled but also steamed carrots are very useful in various recipes for pork on carrots . You can not only cut carrots and pork into rounds, noodles or cubes, pork slices served on carrot sticks also look interesting.
Last but not least, boiled carrots are of course part of many vegetable soups. Blended together with various spices, herbs and other vegetables, you can use it to prepare delicious carrot soups .
Another way you can prepare carrots is by roasting them. Cut the cleaned carrot into sticks or strips, preferably of the same thickness. Then mix the olive oil with salt and other spices and cover the carrots evenly in this mixture. Then spread it on a baking sheet with baking paper. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C for approximately 25 minutes. Roasted carrots prepared in this way can be eaten on their own or used as a side dish to meat.
You may remember stewed carrots from your childhood in the school canteen. But forget about these dishes, because if you combine it with spices and fresh herbs, you will get a delicacy that will surprise anyone who approaches stewed carrots with prejudices with its taste.
The easiest way to prepare stewed carrots is to cut them into rounds or strips, cover them with a small amount of water, add salt and gently stew them on a small piece of butter and over low heat. It is then recommended to lightly dust the softened carrots with flour and, if necessary, add a little sugar and butter. Ways to prepare stewed carrots , but there are many more. It tastes great with, for example, peas, potatoes or minced meat.
Steamed carrots are also great and very tasty. Clean the carrots, cut them and place them in a steamer over boiling water. Cover and cook until crisp. Mix the finished carrot with butter and finely chopped fresh herbs. Add salt and pepper to taste.
A true delicacy from which you can conjure up a very original side dish is caramelized carrots. Heat a small amount of oil in a pan, then melt the butter in it. Add the carrot cut into rounds or strips and sauté it over a low heat. When you see that the carrots have started to darken and soften, add the sugar and then let it caramelize. At the end, add salt, pepper and possibly a little lemon juice.
What about carrot sticks?
If you grow carrots yourself, in addition to the root, you also have the cuttings available. And it would be a shame to throw it in the trash. It contains many health-promoting substances, especially vitamin C, calcium and iron. In general, it can be used very similarly to a sprig of parsley, i.e. for flavoring and decorating sandwiches, soups, pasta or spreads. You can use it not only in fresh form, but also dried.
How to grow carrots
Carrots are among the most commonly grown vegetables in our gardens. Choose a sunny place for it with soft soil, which needs to be dug up well and compost added to it before sowing the carrots. If there are lumps or stones in the soil, the carrot could grow into different shapes or become stunted.
Sow the seeds in rows to a maximum depth of 1 cm. Individual rows should be approximately 15 cm apart. The usual time for sowing is mid-April, late varieties are sown only at the end of spring. Regular watering and care is necessary. Weak seedlings need to be pulled out and make room for strong and healthy ones. Early varieties are usually harvested 8 weeks after sowing, late varieties after 12 weeks. A carrot is ripe when its skin starts to wilt.
The origin of carrots
Common carrots belong to the extensive family of cruciferous vegetables, as well as parsley, parsnip, fennel, cumin and dill. It originally comes from the area where today we find Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. It probably reached Europe with raids by nomads from Asia during the Middle Ages.
The orange carrot as we know it today was bred in the 17th century in the Netherlands. China is currently the largest producer of carrots, followed by Uzbekistan, the United States of America and Russia. In Europe, it is also widely cultivated in Germany, Poland and Ukraine.
Types and varieties of carrots
In the course of centuries of cultivation, it has been possible to breed many varieties of carrots, which are divided into several groups or species.
The origin of this species goes back to France, where it was cultivated 200 years ago. The roots are cylindrical, of medium length, with a blunt end. It has a typical sweet taste. When carrot is mentioned, it is most often the varieties that belong to this group.
A shorter, conical root is typical for Chantenay, which is also suitable for growing in shallow or heavy soils. The roots are sweet and have a pleasant taste. Their disadvantage is that if they are not harvested in time, they can become woody.
This species was bred in 1800 in the American Massachusetts. These are more robust carrots with an elongated and pointed shape, which are easy to grow.
The following varieties are suitable for home cultivation:
- Scarlet Nantes – a sweet variety that is very easy to grow
- Bolero – bright orange massive carrots
- White satin – a popular variety of white carrot
- Dragon carrots – carrots with purple skin and orange insides
- Paris market – these are non-traditional carrots with a short round root resembling orange radishes
Carrots are best stored in a cool and dark place, for example in a cellar, or even on a balcony. If you must refrigerate it, don’t store it in plastic bags. The best place is a vegetable compartment with a temperature between 0 and 3 °C. You can wrap it in a cloth bag or keep it submerged in a bowl of water in the refrigerator.