Food of the Month
Carrots are believed to have originated in the Middle East and Asia. Carrots were introduced into North America by European colonists. As a sign of its heightened popularity, in the early 1800s the carrot became the first vegetable to be canned. The world’s largest producers of carrots today are the United States, France, England, Poland, China, and Japan.
Carrots are an excellent source of antioxidant compounds that help protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer. Extensive human studies suggest that a diet including as little as one carrot per day could conceivably cut the rate of lung cancer in half. Carrots also promote good vision, especially night vision.
How to Select and Store
Carrots are available throughout the year. The inspection of carrots begins with how they look; avoid carrots that have cracks, are bruised, or have mold growing on them. The carrots should be deep orange in color and fresh-looking. Since carrots are efficient at maintaining their water content, they will keep longer than many other vegetables. To maximize storage time, store them in the coolest part of the refrigerator in a perforated plastic bag or wrapped in a paper towel. This will reduce the amount of condensation that is able to form. Stored this way, carrots will stay fresh for up to two weeks. Carrots should be stored away from apples, pears, potatoes, and other fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene gas, since this gas will cause them to become bitter.
Quick Serving Ideas:
- Carrot juice is perhaps the most popular juice prepared in home juice extractors. Its sweetness blends well with other vegetables.
- Lightly steamed carrots are delicious on their own.
- Grated carrots can be added to many fruit salads, such as chopped apples, raisins, and pineapple; chopped or sliced carrots can be added to vegetable salads.
- Carrots can be added to baked goods, such as carrot cakes and muffins, soups, casseroles, and other recipes.
- To make spiced carrot sticks, soak 2 cups carrot sticks in 2 cups hot water with ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne, 1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds, 1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds, 2 teaspoons rice vinegar, and salt. Soak until cool, drain, and serve.
Source: Murray, M. (2006) The Condensed Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, Pocket Books.