Chantenay Carrots
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Chantenay Carrots are an orange Western Carrot and an heirloom Carrot variety.

Chantenay Carrots are fatter than many Carrot types and shorter. Some would even call them Baby Carrots because of their diminutive length. They grow up to 5 inches (12.7 cm) but are most commonly found at retail at a length of 3 inches (8 cm). This 3 inch length is about an inch longer than the typical Baby Carrot but still far short of the length of the standard carrot. The agricultural industry classifies Chantenay Carrots as a “medium-rooted” Carrot. 

Chantenay Carrots come from Chantenay in France and the earliest written references about them can be found in the middle of the 19th Century when they were used medicinally. Chantenay Carrots peaked in popularity after World War II but as the Carrot industry mechanized the Chantenay Carrot, with its non-standard size and softer, non-industrial texture fell out of favor.

By the 1970’s it was hard to find any fresh Chantenay Carrots on grocers’ shelves. Almost the sum total of the remaining crop was used for Canned Carrots. The canners liked their sweetness and small size. Chantenay Carrots are still popular in South America.

Chantenay Carrots are part of the Apiaceae plant family, which includes a number of other Vegetables and Herbs such as ParsleyCeleryFennelChervilCuminParsnips and Celeriac.  The modern domestic Carrot (Daucus carōtasativus) is the taproot of the Carrot plant which makes them, by definition, a Root Vegetable. Carrots are the second most popular Vegetable in the world running just a bit behind Potatoes, with other veggie favorites such as BroccoliOnionsLettuce and Tomatoes (technically a Fruit) in a pack close behind.

The familiar modern orange Carrot is called the Western Carrot (or Carotene Carrot). It was likely developed from a mutant or hybrid of a yellow colored Eastern Carrot. The breeding and cross-breeding history is unclear and the record keeping was not great at the time, but the first records in Europe indicate that purple and yellow Carrots arrived sometime in the 8th to 11th century and that orange Carrots appeared much later, in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Season

Under the right conditions, Carrots take about 2-4 months to grow, which gardeners and farmers have learned to manipulate to keep the Carrots coming throughout the year. In the strictest, most natural sense, Carrots are known as a Fall Vegetable, though they actually have two recognized Seasons. In addition to the fall they are also a late Spring crop. The excess from one season’s crop goes into cold storage to tide all of us over until the next fresh crop of Carrots is available.

Availability

Carrots are available all year long through a combination of sourcing from different regions of the country and preservation of Carrots in cold storage. Carrots are a Root Vegetable and hold very well in cold storage. Chantenay Carrots may be found frozen or canned.

Cultivation

Chantenay Carrots grow from seeds and should be planted in the early spring for the late Spring harvest. They are not the fastest growers and take an average of 60 to 75 days to reach full maturity.

Carrots are biennial plants.  This means if you leave them in the ground the first year, they will produce flowers and then seeds the second year.

If you wish to grow Chantenay Carrots yourself, they do well in shallow, sandy soil and sprout in 10 to 12 days after being sown, preferably about 3/4 of an inch (2 cm) deep.  If your soil is rocky or clay-like, Chantenay Carrots might be a good option since they don’t need to grow so deeply. We have even seen Chantenay Carrots grown successfully in pots. They grow best in full sun but can tolerate some shade. 

To keep from growing oddly shaped Carrots, avoid tight, rocky soil that makes the taproot flex and curve as it grows. Chantenay Carrots are cold resistant, disease resistant and pest resistant. They are a good growing candidate for both farmers and home gardeners.

Carrots are also a useful companion plant. They are especially helpful planted near Tomatoes, Alliums (LeeksShallots and Onions), Beans and Lettuces, and are helped to produce more themselves if grown alongside Alliums, Beans, Rosemary and Sage.

arrot root flies threaten growing Carrots, but cultivating Carrots with fragrant (pungent) OnionsLeeks and/or Chives can help repel the pest. Carrots are known to do well around CarawayCorianderChamomile and Marigold. Flowering Carrot plants are attractive to wasps that may prey on other veggie-chomping garden bugs.

Production

Except where the climate is too hot, Carrots are grown all over the world. China (45%), Russia (4%) and the United States (3.6%) are the leading commercial producers of this economically significant agricultural product. All told, we earthlings grow about 37 tons of Carrots a year.

Domestically, California produces about 87% of all our U.S. commercially grown Carrots. Grimmways Farms is the largest individual Carrot producer and Bolthouse Farms is the second largest. Both are located in California where the ideal climate allows them to plant and harvest two crops a year. In fact, the city of Holtville, Ca claims that it is the “Carrot Capital of the World” with an Annual Carrot Festival in February and everything (the festival link goes offsite to the Holtville Chamber of Commerce). 

Most Carrots are mechanically harvested by a Carrot Harvester, a machine that harvests anywhere from 1-6 rows of field Carrots at a time by cutting the roots from below and picking up the whole plant by the leaves by grasping the leaves. The carrots are transferred to storage containers for delivery to packing facilities where they are cleaned, washed, graded and packed ready for immediate delivery to your supermarket. They are handled as carefully as possible during the harvesting, washing and packing process to avoid damaging the roots.

About 24% of our total domestic production becomes some sort of processed Carrot. In growing for the processed market, color, yield and long lasting flavor are the important criteria. Processed Carrots, like Chantenay Carrots, may become Frozen Carrots or Canned Carrots. Some processed Carrots become Carrot Juice or baby food. 

Varieties

There are a few types of Chantenay Carrots. Red Core Chantenay Carrots have a, you guessed it, a red core. Royal Chantenay Carrots are a very bright orange color.

Purchasing

Though they are not labeled and identified as “Chantenay Carrots,” Chantenay Carrots are most often used for canning and prepared foods, perhaps as part of a frozen meal.

That being said, Chantenay Carrots can be found as Fresh Carrots by the diligent. If you find them fresh, look for Carrots with bright, vibrant colors and few “hairs” growing out of the taproot. If there are hairs, that is a sign of aging, toughening, carrots.

Any Carrot Greens, the clipped top where the greens were attached, should be fresh green. If the greens are turning brown or black that is a bad sign. Smaller, younger Chantenay Carrots are likely to be sweeter than larger ones.

Storage

Fresh Chantenay Carrots are best stored wrapped in a plastic bag or in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer, which is a good place to store Carrots to keep them away from the Ethylene Gas given off by ripening Fruits. Exposure to the ethylene gas makes Carrots taste bitter. Carrots can also absorb the odors from Apples and Pears.

Carrots will last longer if they are kept fairly dry.  Refrigerated young Carrots have a shelf life of approximately 2 weeks. Mature Carrots will last up to a month refrigerated.

Exposure to sunlight, high temperatures or physical damage can cause the Carrot roots to generate alcohol, as well as a bitter defensive chemical, which can add a solvent-like aroma to your dishes.

Removing the Carrot tops before storage increases their shelf life because the greens, as long as they are attached to the Carrot, continue to pull moisture and nutrients out of the taproot.

Culinary Uses

Chantenay Carrots have an orange flesh that is crispy, earthy and incredibly sweet.  Their fans claim that they taste “the way Carrots used to taste.”

The short story on the Culinary Uses of Chantenay Carrots is that they are a Root Vegetable, with a very interesting and useful footnote: they have the additional desirable trait of being a subtle Aromatic.

On Smart Kitchen’s Home Plate™ Chantenay Carrots are Raw, Tough, Thick, Moist and Lean. That is, Carrots, unlike most Root Vegetables, can be eaten Raw and do not need to be cooked to be consumed.

Fresh raw Carrots have a crisp texture but can be a little tough, especially the older, bigger ones. Luckily, they can be tenderized by cooking for a better chew. Fresh Carrots can handle a lot of cooking time and a lot of cooking heat. Cooking them also weakens their cell walls, freeing their natural sugars and making Carrots taste sweeter.

They are thick (at least usually at the root end) and can be thinned with SlicingDicingGrating, etc. With 87% water content, Carrots are Moist. They are also Lean, with a very low fat content (less than 1%). In the Smart Kitchen Home Plate™ shorthand, Carrots would be (R,T2,T4,M,L).

Back to our opening claim, that Carrots are basically a fragrant root vegetable, think of anyway that you can cook Potatoes and, technically, that method will also almost always work for Carrots. While they may get the job done, every potato cooking technique may not always be the best choice, because Carrots contain less Starch. They are also notably sweeter than Potatoes, up to 5% sugar, comprised of a mixture of glucose, sucrose and fructose.

Because they contain unique fragrance molecules (mostly due to terpenes) with hints of pine, wood, oil, citrus and turpentine, Carrots have a mild, almost violet-like, bouquet that comes out when the fragmented carotene is heated. This minor Aromatic quality makes Carrots a great way to add layered flavoring to StocksStewsSoups and other preparations. Think about how chefs use a Mirepoix to create a foundation of tastes and you will get the idea. 

One thing to keep in mind is that the color pigments in orange Carrots are oil-soluble, meaning it takes Fat or Oil to release them and make them lose their “Orangey-ness” and bleed over into other ingredients. The good news is that their lively orange color holds up well with Moist Heat Methods.

In French Cuisine, dishes that are described as "à la Crécy," are dishes that are cooked with, or garnished with, Carrots. There are scores of good ways to prepare and use Chantenay Carrots. If you are at a loss as to how to get started Peeling CarrotsSlicing them and then Sautéing the Carrot slices along with a dab of Whole ButterSalt and Pepper, is a simple way to jump right in.

As you get more comfortable with the Chantenay Carrot, Glazing Carrots may be a good technique to try. Glazed Carrots and Caramelized Balsamic Carrots are two simple tasty ways to try Glazing Carrots for a Side Dish. Both are often garnished with Chopped Parsley for color contrast.

Portion Size

Allow 2-3 oz of Chantenay Carrot per person.

Pairings

AllspiceAlmondsAniseBaconBasilBay LeafBeef, Brandy, Salted ButterUnsalted ButterYogurtCeleryChervilTarragon, Chile Peppers, Dried Chile Peppers, Red Chile Peppers, Jalapeno, ChivesCilantroCinnamonCloves, Cod, Coriander, Crayfish, CreamHeavy CreamCrème FraicheCumin, Curry, Curry Leaves, DillFennel, Fennel Seeds, Fish, GarlicGingerHazelnutsHoney, Lamb, LeeksLemons, Lemon Juice, Lemon Zest, Limes, Lime Juice, Lime Zest, Lovage, Mace, Maple Syrup, Agave, Syrup, Mint, Spearmint, Peppermint, MirepoixMustardMustard Seeds, Black Mustard Seeds, Nutmeg, OilsPeanut OilMustard OilSesame OilGrapeseed OilVegetable OilOlive OilOnionsScallionsYellow OnionsRed OnionsWhite OnionsShallots, Oranges, Orange Juice, Orange Zest, ParsleyParsnips, Peas, PecansPepperBlack PepperWhite PepperPink PepperPistachiosPotatoes, Raisins, Black Raisins, White Raisins, ChickenBeefPoultryRoasted MeatsRosemary, Rum, SageSaltKosher SaltStocksWhite Chicken StockBrown Chicken StockBeef StockVeal StockSugarBrown SugarRaw SugarGranulated Sugar, Tamarind, Thyme, Turnips, Veal, Vegetables, Root VegetablesGreensVinaigrettesWalnuts, White Wine, Red Wine

Substitutes

Nantes Carrots

Nutritional Value USDA
CARROTS,RAW
Amount Per 100g
Calories 41
%Daily Value*
 
0%
Total Fat 0g
0%
Saturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
0%
Cholesterol 0mg
3%
Sodium 69mg
6%
Potassium 320mg
3%
Total Carbohydrate 9g
8%
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 4g
Protein 0g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Nutrition

Carrots are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. It begins with their typically bright orange color caused by their high concentration of beta-carotene (also named from the original Latin word “carōta”), which the body converts to Vitamin A.  They also contain lesser amounts of alpha-carotene (which has been shown to help inhibit conditions that can lead to tumor growth), upsilon-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Carrots are rich in dietary fiber (mostly cellulose, with smaller proportions of hemicellulose, lignin and starch), antioxidants and minerals. In addition, a serving of Carrots provides 13% of the USRDA for Vitamin K and 11% for Vitamin B6. Carrots are about 5% Sugar. The sugars contained in Carrots include SucroseGlucose and Fructose.

In the plant kingdom, the stronger the pigment, the more nutrients and phytochemicals the plant is likely to contain.  Carrot’s many phytochemicals help slow the aging process and fight against many diseases including cancer, stroke, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and urinary tract infections.

Contrary to popular wisdom, and the opinion of Moms everywhere, eating scads of Carrots does not allow you see perfectly in the dark.  That being said, adequate amounts of Vitamin A are linked to maintaining good vision, and inadequate amounts can lead to poor vision, any time of day.

Massive overconsumption of carrots can cause carotenosis, a benign condition in which the skin turns orange.

Gluten Free

Yes

Low Fat

Yes

Low Calorie

Yes