The ORIGINAL carrot was white or purple! Oh, yes, it was! The World Carrot Museum says ‘Carrots were originally purple or white with a thin root, then a mutant occurred which removed the purple pigmentation resulting in a new race of yellow carrots, from which orange carrots were developed.’ Daven Hiskey says ‘The modern day orange carrot wasn’t cultivated until Dutch growers in the late 16th century took mutant strains of the purple carrot and gradually developed them into the sweet, plump, orange variety we have today.’ It is thought the carrot ‘came of age during the food scarcity of the two World Wars when people were forced to be more inventive with fewer resources.’
Nutrition! Would you believe purple carrots (usually orange or white inside) have even more beta carotene (good vision) than their orange cousins?! Yep. Purple carrots, like blueberries, get their purple pigment from anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that protect key cell components. They grab and hold harmful free radicals in the body, help prevent heart disease by slowing blood clotting, and are anti-inflammatory (arthritis). So, they are cheaper than blueberries, higher in beta carotene, and you can grow them just about anywhere!
Carrot Care You can grow your own easily, in a big tub, in the ground, between other plants. They need full sun and soft soil. As with all carrots, don’t overfeed or plant in too rich soil, or they get hairy! Here’s a great link The return of the purple carrot from Sydney, Aus ~ read the comments!
Which variety? Magical names! Purple Dragon, Purple Haze, Cosmic Purple, Purple Sun, Deep Purple…. Well, try some from your local farmers market or grocer first, see if they make you happy. Ask exactly which variety they are. Local farmers grow what does best in your area. Or, if you are a wilder Soul, get two or three different packets of seeds and plant away! Once you know your fav, ask your organic nursery if they would order up some of those seeds as part of their regular stock! That saves shipping expenses for you!
Cooking Purple Carrots! Hmm, seems the issue is to retain the purple, they don’t turn green like purple beans do, just less purple. Baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice are all recommended. Boiling depletes the color, roasting retains it.
Fun Fact! The largest carrot ever grown was 19 pounds (Guinness); grown by John Evans in 1998 in Palmer, Alaska!