Carrots can be shades of orange, yellow, purple and white. Their flesh is snappy and crisp. Their flavors, quintessentially earthy and sweet with notes of celery. Though carrots are most often found trimmed of their thin, dill-like foliage, their greens are equally edible, with herbaceous carrot and parsley undertones.
Carrots, botanical name Daucus Carota subs. sativus, belong to the Umbelliferae family along with parsnips, fennel caraway, cumin and dill. Each plant in this family has the umbrella-like flower clusters that characterize this family of plants. Carrots are a true vegetable, as they are not pollinated nor do they hold seeds within the fruit of the plant, like tomatoes, cucumbers and chile peppers, which are true fruits. Carrots are classified as a root vegetable, though the plant is comprised of a root, midribs and greens. Carrots are harvested at multiple stages of maturity while some cultivars are bread specifically to be harvested young or at full size. varieties that are specifically bred to reach their full size, as some varieties can get woody and produce a dry, threaded flesh.
Carrots provide the highest content of vitamin A of all the vegetables. Brightly orange colored carrots contain the pigments known as carotenoids and flavonoids, two important phytochemicals and natural bioactive compounds found in plant foods that provide several antioxidant benefits and defenses against cancer.
Carrots are one of the most common ingredients found in the kitchen as well as one of the most versatile and fundamental ingredients for culinary use in recipes both sweet and savory. Diced carrots, along with celery and onions are a key ingredient (known as mirepoix) in soup stocks and broths. While basic stocks and soups rarely achieve their well-rounded flavoring without a carrot, carrots fill many other recipes along with many other ingredients, included simple roasted vegetable medleys along with other winter root vegetables. Carrots are a quintessential ingredient in baked goods such as bread and muffins. Carrots are eaten raw in crudites, pureed into sauces, boiled and fried. Carrots pair well with almonds, bacon, butter, celery, cheeses, especially cheddar, parmesan and pecorino, cinnamon, cream, ginger, parsley, potatoes, mushrooms, shallots, tomatoes and vinegar, especially red and white wine. Carrots will keep in cool, dry storage for up to a month.