Monday, May 26, 2014

Colored Carrots

Believe it or not, there is a World Carrot Museum which gives detail on the history of carrots. The earliest historic records for carrots has them being cultivated in what is now Afghanistan in about the year 1000. Those original carrots were probably purple or yellow. In the 1100s carrots spread to Spain through North Africa and the Middle East. In the 1300s purple, white and yellow carrots were brought into the rest of southern Europe and were widely grown there by the 1500s. It was the Dutch who took newly developed orange carrots, which were developed from yellow carrots, and developed them over time to be sweeter and more consistent. The other colors of carrots were only kept alive in the more remote regions of the world. For example, purple and white carrots still grow wild in Afghanistan where they are used by tribesman to make an alcoholic beverage. Time has done a nice recent article on the different colors of carrots that are available now. 
Up until a few years ago, I had no idea that there was anything other than an orange carrot. I had a birthday meal at Ford's Filling Station in Culver City, the whole pig dinner, and it came with different colors of whole carrots saturated in cooked pork flesh. And they were marvelous. 
Whole pig dinner at Ford's Filling Station. Carrots in bottom corner.
When we got this, I specifically tried out the different colors of carrots.
Even more recently, at a farmers market in San Diego County, we came across some colored carrots being sold and purchased them and tried them. From what we tried and from what little I've read, purple carrots tend to be orange colored inside and don't taste much different than yellow carrots, but they do have a little peppery flavor. White carrots are yellow or cream colored and are a little sweeter and have less of the earthy flavor of the other carrot colors. Red carrots get their color from lycopene, the same pigment that gives tomatoes their red color, and have a taste pretty much like orange carrots. 
The different inside colors add to their value as garnishes.
Traditionally carrots have been stir fried or boiled, or apparently also made into alcoholic beverages. It is only the last 50 years that carrots have been eaten raw. It is not uncommon to find grated carrots in the all-you-can eat salad bar, or miniature carrots in snack tries. 

We baked our rainbow carrots and it was very fun having the different colors and tastes, comparing them side-by-side. I hope they will become more available as the different colors are great for garnishes in salads and other dishes, as well as to be focused on just themselves. 


  1. If Riverside can have a National Date festival, why not a day for carrots.

  2. I remember our Grandma K. growing purple carrots-I wonder if Judy remembers that. I loved the way it looked when cut.

  3. I don't remember the purple carrots, but I do remember that Grandma K. loved carrots! These are fun, a lot like the variations of heirloom tomatoes.