Dangling the Golden Carrot
Carrots are originally from Central Asia and the Near East. They were introduced to the American colonies in the 17th century and they were purple. The Dutch developed the orange carrot. Thomas Jefferson grew several varieties of carrot in his Monticello garden.
I have yet to meet a kid that won’t eat a fresh carrot they picked with their own hands. My kids won’t touch them after they’ve been cooked though. My favorite way to cook them is with honey, ginger, butter and kumquat rind. There are many varieties of carrots. They come in different sizes and colors. We’re growing short and long ones. Did you know the baby carrots in the bag at the grocery store are not really baby carrots? I just recently learned they are full-sized carrots that are cut to look like baby carrots. Apparently, the public demand is greater for the baby carrots.
California grows 80 % of the carrots in the U.S. They are an excellent source of beta-carotene and fiber. The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A and this helps to reduce certain types of cancers.
Carrots are usually ready to be picked at 65-75 days. Heat and humidity makes them turn bitter. They can be stored for 30 days in the refrigerator when fresh, but it is best to eat them as soon as you can to get the most vitamins. We grew lots of carrots last year. I would harvest a few and put them in the refrigerator. The next day I would find them limp and yucky. I wondered how the supermarkets keep carrots fresh in the bag for such long periods of time. The key is to cut the green tops off them. The tops draw the water out of the carrot and they wilt. This year I cut all the tops off immediately after I harvested them. It’s sufficient to just cut the green part off and not the entire top of the carrot for storage.
Carrots seedlings are supposed to be thinned out after they have grown about an inch of leafy green. If you don’t thin them out , you will end up with a bunch of tiny carrots that didn’t grow because they were all trying to grow in the same space. Thinning them allows the carrots roots to develop properly. I know I am supposed to thin them out and I still have trouble doing it. The picture above shows what can happen when they are not thinned out. One little carrot is growing around the other.
Most backyard gardeners don’t harvest all their carrots at the same time like I did today. I decided to pull them and blanch them for storage. I’ll save some for eating fresh. Carrots can store up to 9 months in a regular freezer. They will store up to 14 months if kept in deep freeze. However, if you’re going to freeze them you must blanche them first. To blanche them you will need a pot of boiling water and a bowl filled with ice water. Cut the carrots up or leave them whole (if they’re small). Boil them for 2-5 minutes, drain them and then put them in the bowl of ice water to hastily stop the cooking process. Now they’re ready to be stored in the freezer in a ziplock freezer bag.
My family adores carrot juice. The pile of carrots in the picture above won’t last long around here. I usually make carrot juice the Jamaican way. I juice the carrots with a juicer and I give the pulp to the chickens, worms and bunnies. I add a little water, condensed milk, vanilla and nutmeg to the carrot juice. There is a recipe at Jamaican-recipes.com for the specifics. I don’t measure ingredients. I just add a little of this and that. Jamaicans usually make this juice with a blender, not a juicer. They use a strainer to separate the pulp from the juice.
Come grow with us!