From carrots, you can make a great good cake. They also make healthy juice.
Honey glazed, they taste amazing. Made into soup, they’re the best comfort food. These are things most people know.
Carrot is one of the best vegetables to cook because it’s extremely versatile and so, so healthy. It packs a huge amount of vitamin A and is a good source of potassium, dietary fiber, antioxidants and a variety of other nutrients.
What people also know is that carrots are mostly orange. But did you know that carrots weren’t always of this color? In fact, researchers believe orange carrots may have appeared as a defect in the roots of the vegetable.
Digging into the history of carrot
The most common carrot is today the orange colored, but the first was a wild vegetable, and it was ivory-colored. Also, it was used less in cooking and more for medicinal purposes.
So at first wild, domestication began, from what is known up until now, about 1,100 years ago somewhere in Central Asia. It’s when and where the cultivation of carrots started to emerge more prominently.
It is also believed that originally carrots may have been purple and that somewhere along the line they lost the purple pigment, thus emerging a new variant – the yellow colored, which spread along the Mediterranean and in Western Europe at first, and then later into Japan, China and India.
There are no reports of orange carrots having existed before the sixteenth century, so it is assumed that sometime between spreading into the West and East along the course of a few centuries, the vegetable suffered yet another mutation, building up orange pigments.
Farmers selected the orange-colored roots and thus developed the first orange carrot that did, however, differ from the modern vegetable cultivated today.
Two main types of carrots are cultivated nowadays
Carrots orange-colored are believed to originate in the Netherlands. They are included in the Western or Carotene carrots category and are among the most popular and commonly found in supermarkets all around the world. Carrots in this category can also have red or white roots.
The second category includes purple carrots and is referred to as the Eastern or Asian category. These varieties are widely found in Iran, India, Afghanistan, and Russia.
Many American supermarkets now also sell both yellow and purple carrots, and many shoppers turn over to the dark side of the vegetable, for good reasons too. Purple carrots contain anthocyanins, which are some of the most potent antioxidants found in food and extremely effective in protecting against diseases.
Purple carrots contain two times more alpha and beta-carotene compared to their orange counterparts.
They are also found at farmers’ markets throughout the country.
While the vegetable is available year-round, peak season is March through October, making this a fantastic time to get snacking on this beautifully colored, nutrition-packed vegetable. If you dislike raw carrots, try roasting them in foil with Chimichurri sauce, or cook in soup along with other vegetables such as green beans, peas, baby spinach, and parsnip.