Carrots – Daucus carota ssp. sativus

Baby Carrots fresh from the garden
Baby Carrots fresh from the garden

“There was an Old Person in gray,
Whose feelings were tinged with dismay;
She purchased two parrots,
     and fed them with carrots,
Which pleased that Old Person in gray.”

Edward Lear, English artist, writer;

 known for his ‘literary nonsense’ & limericks  (1812-1888)

Who among us hasn’t heard the old adage that eating carrots improves vision? This biennial root veggie is native to Europe and SW Asia, and has been known for ages to help the eyesight, especially night vision. The beta-carotene in carrots is the beneficial ingredient in this mix! It also helps preserve the eyesight of the elderly by reducing macular degeneration.

In times past it was not the root of this vegetable that was considered valuable, but rather the aromatic leaves and seeds. An essential oil is steam distilled from the seeds. The aroma is earthy, woody and warm, but not at all like the scent of carrots. This EO is often used in perfumery and is considered a middle not, blending well with bergamot, juniper, lavender, lemon, lime, cedarwood, geranium as well as all citrus and spicy oils.

The root of this vegetable is the traditional carrot used in cooking, but the greens are also edible and safe for consumption. Most humans though do not eat anything but the roots. The roots can be used in numerous ways in many styles of cooking. Add them to soups, stews, and stir fries; they are an integral part of the traditional Sunday pot roast dinner, and an invaluable part of the broth making. They can be grated and used to make carrot cake, and bread. In the early 1800’s in England they began using grated carrots to make a pudding also! Lastly the roots can be fermented to produce alcohol.

In the past carrots were used to give color to butter; and a dye can be obtained from the leaves that resembles woad. The roots give an orange dye, which you will see when cooking with it!

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