Carrots must be our most versatile winter crop. From the unpeeled and raw snack, to the sublime sweetness of a creamy soup, the brightness of this vegetable will cheer any eater. Carrots have a long growing season, so they must be weeded early and often. Once they are dug from the earth, they are washed for storage. Their lacey green tops are removed when stored for the season (and when you purchase carrots in the warm months, remove the greenery before storing at home). Be sure to ask your farmer what kind of carrots they grow to learn about new flavors. You may become a fan of Chantenay, French Round, Thumbelina, or the Purple Dragon!
Commercially grown carrots have nothing on our locally grown beauties. Carrots, delicious and appealing in their raw form, have been rendered tasteless and less nutritious when they are pre-peeled, cut, (or whittled down to “baby carrots”) and bagged. If you know someone who is not convinced of the superiority of local produce, a carrot can be the best example for a flavor revelation. Their bright color (orange for the most part, but there are yellow and purple varieties) indicates lots of beta carotene, or vitamin A. They also supply vitamin C and dietary fiber.
Purchasing: Select carrots of any size and shape that are firm and bright.
Storage: Carrots store well for the long-term if they are kept cold (32 – 40 degrees F) and moist (90 – 95% relative humidity). At home, store them tightly wrapped in plastic in your crisp drawer. If your carrots sprout while stored, just trim before using.
Cooking and Eating: Often, local carrots have a tender outer layer, and don’t need to be peeled. Wash and scrub off any dirt, trim root and stem ends, and your carrots are ready to be eaten raw or to be cooked! Carrots are naturally sweet, and are great in raw salads and slaws, roasted with other roots vegetables, pureed for soups, and shredded and baked into cakes and cookies.