Carrots have been a staple in many countries for thousands of years. They come in a variety of colours; purple, white, yellow, red but the commonly known orange carrot was no accident. Orange carrots are a result of 17th century patriotic Dutch agriculturists. Different variations were cross-bred with each other until a carrot was born that represented the colour of the Dutch Royal Family, orange! This is the main type found in New Zealand today and can be found year round, however, they are in season and at their best during the winter months.
Not just an old wives tale, mostly, carrots are actually good for your eyes. Much of carrots nutritional value comes from carotenoids, which are found in thousands of plants but are highly concentrated in carrots. Many carotenoids are converted into vitamin A in the body and 1 cup of cooked carrots contains enough to supply five times your daily intake. Vitamin A is needed for healthy eyes and vision, but it’s not quite accurate to say carrots improve your eyesight. Though vitamin A is good for your eyes, it isn’t going to correct nearsightedness or poor night vision.
Did you know; baby peeled carrots are actually larger carrots that are trimmed down to ‘baby size’. They will keep for at least a week in the refrigerator. As they’re already peeled, a light frosting may appear on the surface; place them in cold water for a few minutes and they will return to their brilliant orange colour.
Refrigerate in plastic bags until ready to use to keep them fresh.
Carrots are very versatile. Bake, barbecue, boil, braise, microwave, roast, steam, stew, or stir fry. Carrots should be cooked until they are tender and depending on preference, still slightly crunchy. Cooked, tender carrots may be mashed or puréed.
Carrots can be eaten raw as snacks, or cooked and used in savoury and some sweet dishes, such as carrot cake or muffins.