Red Jumbo Carrots
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We are used to thinking of orange Carrots as normal but Red Carrots have an unusual maroon color. There are both red Western Carrots and red Eastern Carrots. Western Red Carrots have a red external layer and bright orange flesh at their core. The orange color means that the vitamin precursor Beta-Carotene is present. Red Eastern Carrots have red flesh over a yellow core. No beta-carotene is present. Red Carrots are colored by Lycopene (the same pigment that colors Watermelon and red Tomatoes) which is another form of Carotene.

Red Carrots are similar in shape to the Nantes Carrots, where both have round shoulders and a blunt non-tapered tip but Red Carrots grow to about 9 inches (229 mm). Red Carrots are grown specifically to yield sweeter flavor while also retaining good texture.

All Carrots are part of the Apiaceae plant family, which includes a number of other Vegetables and Herbs such as Parsley,CeleryFennelChervilCuminParsnips 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.

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

Red Carrots can theoretically be available all year long through a combination of sourcing from different regions of the country and preservation of Carrots in cold storage but they are relatively hard to find because there is not a large demand for them at retail, yet.

Cultivation

Red 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 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 Carrots yourself, most types do well in sandy soil and sprout in 10 to 12 days after being sown, preferably about 3/4 of an inch (2 cm) deep.  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.

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.

Carrot 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.

Varieties

There are a few types of Red Carrots. Examples include: the Maroon Carrot and the Atomic Red Carrot.

Purchasing

Look for Red Carrots with bright, vibrant colors and very 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. Small, young Carrots are likely to be sweeter than larger ones.

Storage

Red 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. They 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

Red Carrots are sweeter and easier to chew than other Carrots.  They have a firm and crunchy texture with an earthy sweet flavor. Basically, the short story on the Culinary Uses of Red 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 (see more below).

On Smart Kitchen’s Home Plate™ Red 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 red Carrots are oil-soluble, meaning it takes Fat or Oil to release them and make them lose their “redness” 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 Red 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 Red 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.

Carrots, of all types, are used in cuisines worldwide in Salads, Soups, Stocks and Stews, in Sauces and as a Vegetable Side Dish. Shredded and sweetened they are used in cakes in breads. For example, Grated Carrots are popular in Carrot Cake, as well as Carrot Pudding, an old English dish thought to have originated in the early 19th century.

Carrot Tops, aka Carrot Greens are also edible as a leaf vegetable.

Portion Size

Allow 2-3 oz of Red 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

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

The Lycopene, which colors Red Carrots, is 40% bioavailable (about equivalent to the bioavailability of Lycopene in Tomato Paste) and is associated with a reduced risk of macular degeneration, reducing the odds of contracting heart disease and a wide variety of cancers. Red Western Carrots are also high in beta-carotene.

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 Sucrose, Glucose and Fructose.

Gluten Free

Yes

Low Fat

Yes

Low Calorie

Yes