What are carrots?
Carrots are a root vegetable – and some people refer to them as the perfect health food. They’re mostly made up of water and carbohydrates. And while carrots are commonly known for their orange color, they’re also known to be purple, yellow, red and white.
Carrots offer a wide variety of health benefits (which I’ll go into more details on below).
Where did carrots originate?
Carrots are believed to have originated in Persia, which is now Iran and Afghanistan, around 900 AD. Carrots later spread into Europe, then made their way to North America when early settlers arrived. Today, carrots are widely considered to be one of the most popular veggies across the globe.
One interesting fact about carrots is that they were originally cultivated for medicinal use. They didn’t begin to be used as a food source until the 16th century.
Where are carrots grown?
California produces the majority of carrots that are made in America – like they do most fruits and veggies. In fact, California is believed to produce over 85% of America’s carrots. The remaining 15% of carrots are produced in Michigan and Texas.
How do carrots grow?
When it comes to growing carrots, it’s important that they’re grown in soil that is well-drained. Sandy loam or silt loam soil is the most common type of soil to grow carrots commercially.
Carrot seeds are planted in the soil in spring or summer. In commercial growing, about 900,000 carrot seeds are planted per acre. Baby carrots can be planted in a volume as high as 1.9 million per acre.
Carrots grow best in temperatures that are moderately cool during the day and colder at night. The optimal temperature to maintain for carrot growth is approximately 60-70° F during the day and 45-50° F at night.
Carrots are ready to be harvested between 85 and 135 days after they’re planted. Most commercial carrots are harvested in September or October, but can be harvested as early as July.
Are carrots good for you?
Yes! Carrots are widely considered to be one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Here are some of the benefits of eating carrots:
Eye health: Carrots are known for being a superfood for the eyes. This is because carrots are high in beta-carotene, which ultimately helps keep your eyes healthy by protecting them from the sun and decreasing your chances of eye problems such as cataracts.
Heart health: The antioxidants in carrots are good for your heart, because they help remove harmful free radicals from the body. Carrots also contain potassium, which helps aid the body in maintaining a healthy blood pressure level. And lastly, the fiber in carrots helps you maintain a healthy weight which can lower your chance of heart disease.
Lower risk of cancer: Antioxidants are also linked to reducing your risk of cancer. The antioxidants in carrots are carotenoids and anthocyanins, both of which help remove free radicals from the body.
Immune system: Because carrots contain a healthy dose of vitamin C, they help your body build antibodies that can promote a healthy immune system to fight off illnesses.
Diabetes control: Carrots contain fiber, vitamin A and beta-carotene, which can help keep blood sugar levels under control and lower your risk of diabetes.
Bone health: Carrots contain calcium and vitamin K, which both help the body maintain strong bones.
What’s the nutritional value of a carrot?
A serving of carrots consists of about half a cup. One serving of carrots generally consists of approximately:
- 25 calories
- 1/2 grams of protein
- 6 grams of carbs
- 2 grams of fiber
- 3 grams of sugar
- 73% of your daily vitamin A
- 9% of your daily vitamin K
- 8% of your daily potassium
- 8% of your daily fiber
- 5% of your daily vitamin C
- 2% of your daily calcium
- 2% of your daily iron
Are carrots vegan?
Yes, carrots are definitely vegan! Carrots are part of the Apiaceae family and are closely related to celery.
Do carrots go bad?
Yes, carrots will eventually go bad. When stored properly, raw carrots will remain fresh for about three to four weeks in the refrigerator. Sliced or chopped carrots will remain good for two to three weeks when refrigerated.
Can carrots survive frost?
Unfortunately, frost is something that can occur during the carrot growing season, which can run until the end of October.
Fortunately, carrots are tolerant to frost and can survive temperatures as low as 20˚ F. However, extended exposure to such low temperature can damage the roots, reduce the quality of the crop, or kill the carrots all together.
If extended frost is expected, then steps should be taken to help protect the carrots and prevent damage. One common way to protect the carrots is to cover them with a layer of straw or hay, which helps to insulate the carrots form the cold. Row covers and plastic tunnels are also a common way to help protect carrots from extended frost. Any layer(s) of protection should be removed once the frost has passed so that the carrots are exposed to natural sunlight.
Can carrots be frozen?
Carrots can be frozen! However, they should be blanched before freezing, like most vegetables. Blanching is the process of boiling the vegetables for a short period of time and then quickly cooling them. The blanching process stops the cooking process and will prevent the carrots from becoming mushy when they’re thawed. If you don’t blanch carrots before freezing them, the texture, taste, color and even the nutritional value of the carrot will deteriorate.