A carrot is a root
vegetable, typically orange in color with a woody texture.
The younger the carrot the smaller and more tender the
flesh is, so 'baby carrots' are often preferred for raw
use. Note that the 'baby carrots' you can buy bagged,
washed and pre-peeled in US supermarkets are not actually
'babies' at all - they are larger carrots that have been
mechanically shaped into stubs.
True baby carrots (often
known as 'Dutch carrots') are sold by the bunch complete
with tops, and they are very long and spindly and almost
impossible to peel. Fortunately, with a carrot that young,
peeling is unnecessary - all that is needed is to scrub
them under the tap to remove any dirt, and to cut off the
hairy 'tail' and the leafy top. Older carrots benefit from
peeling as the skin gets a lot more fibrous and hairy with
Carrots are often eaten
raw, whole or shaved into salads for color, and are often
cooked in soups and stews. They are an essential
ingredient in carrot cake. The greens are not generally
eaten (they have no particular food benefit to humans and
do not taste good), but they are technically edible.
Together with onion
carrots are one of the primary vegetables used in a mirepoix
to make various broths.
Carrots are orange
because they contain large amounts of beta carotene (a
precursor to Vitamin A). This gives rise to the belief
that they will improve your eyesight, by enhancing the
performance of receptors on the retina in your eye.
Carrots are also rich in dietary fiber, antioxidants,
minerals and are alkaline food
Carrots originally came
in purple, white and yellow colors. The now standard
orange carrot was developed in Holland as a tribute to
William I of Orange during the Dutch fight for
independence from Spain in the 16th century. Oddly-colored
carrots might be coming back in style.
New yellow carrots
get their color from xanthophylls, which have been linked
to good eye health. Red carrots contain lycopene, also
found in tomatoes
and thought to guard against heart disease and some
cancers. Purple carrots anthocyanins are regarded as
powerful antioxidants that help protect cells from damage.