Pickled petite carrots made a marvelous addition to lyonnaise potato salad served at the Culinary Vegetable Institute, while farm-fresh carrots appeared in a soup complete with seafood potato. Diners were surprised by the inclusion of carrots in pastrami and mustard— and, because of the natural sugars of the carrot, they also topped off an outstanding meal in the form of carrot cake, carrot caramel and carrot sherbet.
Plus, our fresh carrots served as the heart of a tag team culinary event in Boston, where Chef Jessica Biederman and our own Jamie Simpson compared them to the unique beauty of a Vera Wang wedding dress. To quote Chef Jessica, “Like Vera Wang, you tailor the plate to fit the Chef’s Garden carrot. With other carrots, you tailor the carrot to fit the plate. That’s the kind of approach we’re taking. We’re taking each carrot individually and making a dish that we feel best represents that carrot’s flavor and its shape and all kinds of things.”
Carrots were chosen as the highlighted vegetable in Boston because Jessica, the executive chef at The Bristol inside the Four Seasons Hotel, is including this versatile vegetable “everywhere” on the menu, making it the “perfect choice.” And, as part of the collaboration with Chef Jamie, she made carrot pasta, dehydrating the carrots to make flour. Using that flour, they made pasta dough, inlaying carrot tops inside of this doughy goodness. In between each layer, carrot fronds, sweet-anise-flavored micro tarragon and colorful, texture-rich viola petals were lovingly placed.
The resulting carrot pasta was “super thin,” cooking quickly and coming out looking like a stunning piece of stained glass.
Yes, carrots are incredibly versatile, which is just one of the seven reasons we chose mixed carrots as the Vegetable of the Year in 2019. Now, here’s more about the incredible carrot.
“If you truly get in touch with a piece of carrot, you get in touch with the soil, the rain, the sunshine. You get in touch with Mother Earth and eating in such a way you feel in touch with true life, with roots.” (Nhat Hanh)
Carrots come in a rainbow of colors, and each and every one represents a unique moment in time. Whenever Jamie Simpson talks with his chef team about ingredients for a dish that they’re brainstorming, he invites them to step back, to breathe, and to imagine they’re seeing each particular ingredient for the first time.
We’d love it if you’d try the same experiment, to gently hold a carrot up to the light as if seeing it for the very first time. Ideally, this will be a fresh carrot just pulled from the warm earth.
What do you notice about its color? If you hold up a second carrot, one considered the same color as the first, are they really the same? If not, how are they different? How would you describe each color?
Run your fingers along the carrot. How smooth is it? How bumpy? What have you realized about the fronds that you’ve never noticed before?
How big (or small) is this carrot? How might you describe its shape, pretending that the rest of the world has never before seen a carrot?
Enjoy. Seriously. Simply pause to revel in the beauty of the carrot. When you’re ready to move on, the rest of this post will still be here.
When we named mixed carrots as the 2019 Veggie of the Year in December 2018, one big reason for our choice was the health benefits associated with eating them. And, now, we’re going to share cutting-edge research that wasn’t even available in December.
Because nearly six million Americans are already suffering from Alzheimer’s (with numbers expected to continue to increase as the Baby Boomer generation ages), researchers are focusing on how to help prevent or manage this form of dementia. As an even more daring goal, research is being done to see how this condition can actually be reversed, with new results showing promise.
Study results released in March 2019 open with this statement: “A diet containing compounds found in green tea and carrots reversed Alzheimer's-like symptoms in mice genetically programmed to develop the disease.”
Reversed. Yes, this study was done on mice, not people. But, the Alzheimer-like symptoms were reversed.
And, this study, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, suggests that “certain readily available, plant-based supplements might offer protection against dementia in humans.” In other words, if you’re concerned about Alzheimer’s disease, you “don't have to wait 10 to 12 years for a designer drug to make it to market; you can make these dietary changes today.”
The specific compound found in carrots is ferulic acid (FA), which is also in tomatoes and other foods. Mice used in the study had “Alzheimer-like symptoms” and were given easily-consumed doses of FA, as well as epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) found in green tea, for three months. Researchers then compared the ability of the mice to run through a maze before and after this special diet was given; this task was chosen because it tests spatial working memory, the same kind of memory that people use to, say, find their way through and out of a building.
If a mouse was healthy, it would strategically explore each arm of the maze, seeking food and ways to escape the maze, but mice with memory impairments simply can’t do this as well. After just three months of the special diet, though, using mice with Alzheimer-like symptoms, this “treatment completely restored working memory and the Alzheimer's mice performed just as well as the healthy comparison mice.”
Although more research needs to be done, this could be a real game-changer.
Carrots can also boost health in numerous other ways, and we’ll dive into that topic next, focusing on one specific hue.
In 2019, Healthline.com analyzed the health benefits of purple carrots. Their conclusion is that all carrots are “highly nutritious,” no matter the color, but “purple carrots are especially rich in powerful antioxidants known to fight inflammation and benefit certain health conditions.”
And, they share plenty more information about this marvelous purple vegetable, including its long history of providing nutrition to humans. For example, if we could borrow the Culinary Vegetable Institute’s time machine, we could travel back to the 10th century where, in the Persian Empire and the Iranian plateau, carrots grown were either purple or white. So, way before orange became the expected color, people were benefitting from the power of purple.
What is it, exactly, that makes purple carrots so nutritionally powerful? After all, carrots of all shapes and sizes and colors are packed with vitamin A, certain B vitamins, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, and more. They’re all rich in fiber and low in calories. None but the purple, though, offers up anthocyanins. This form of antioxidant is found in purple foods, and helps to protect your body from something called oxidative stress, which in turn has been linked to heart disease, cancer, mental decline, and overall aging.
Reduce oxidative stress and boost your chances of good health.
Specially, anthocyanins can help to protect against certain health conditions, in part by lowering the body’s inflammation. In fact, a review of 24 studies concluded that people who eat diets rich in anthocyanin had significantly better blood flow and blood vessel function, which can boost heart health.
Plus, purple carrots contain about nine times the amount of another type of antioxidant (polyphenol), which can also reduce the risks of heart disease, certain cancers, and cognitive decline.
The Healthline.com article goes into much more depth about how purple carrots can help with health, and they also list easy ways to add this vegetable to foods. Here are just four of them, quoted directly from the site:
Cook and add to homemade hummus.
Spiralize and toss with pesto.
Steam and coat with a flavorful spice mix like harissa.
Dehydrate slices and enjoy as a healthy alternative to potato chips.
At The Chef’s Garden and the Culinary Vegetable Institute, you’ll often catch us comparing how different colors (or sizes) of certain vegetables taste subtly (or, sometimes, not so subtly!) different. So, because of that, we’d like to give a nod to TheSpruceEats.com as they provide their insights into carrot colors and their corresponding flavors. After all, in our perfect world, everyone would be invited to our table to have these kinds of conversations!
Orange carrots: The article points out how, because of their earthy, sweet flavor, orange carrots are delicious when cooked or raw. They suggest them with dips, in salads and coleslaws, or paired with spicy potatoes and cabbage.
Purple carrots: They describe these carrots as being intensely sweet, sometimes also peppery. They appreciate them in crudités, in salads, or in spicy pickle recipes.
Red carrots: Ideas for this color include soups, whether creamy or gingered. They also suggest using red carrots in glazes.
White or yellow carrots: These mild carrots, they point out, aren’t as earthy-tasting as other colors, and are noticeably sweeter. So, they suggest roasting them or glazing them with butter and sugar.
To benefit from all the colors, consider mixed carrots from The Chef’s Garden!
Switching topics, when we originally announced mixed carrots as 2019’s spotlight vegetable, we pointed out that, if it’s good enough for Bugs Bunny, then . . . well, you get our point. And, here’s more on that subject.
“Oh, carrots are divine, you get a dozen for a dime, it's magic. They fry, a song begins; they roast, and I hear violins, it's magic. Why do I kid myself? Other loves that I have are all really few. When in my heart I know, the magic's my love for you.” (Bugs Bunny)
According to an article we read at (wait, for it . . .) I’m a Useful Info Junkie, the creators of Bugs Bunny based his cool carrot vibe off of a scene in It Happened One Night, a 1934 film starring Clark Gable. In the film, Gable leans against a fence while talking rapidly when his mouth is full of . . . carrots. Yep, carrots. Gable was snacking on them as he tried to impress Claudette Colbert; and, since one of Bugs Bunny’s creators, Friz Freleng, loved that movie, he mimicked its carrot scene in the now-beloved character of his rascally rabbit.
This film was still popular when Bugs Bunny debuted in 1940, and viewers of the day would have recognized the satire.
Ironically, while only the greatest of Clark Gable’s fans might still connect him with chomping carrots, Bugs Bunny is known all around the world for doing just that! So, what’s up, Doc?
If you’re looking to include sustainably farmed fresh carrots in your unique dishes and creative menus, we invite you to browse what’s available at The Chef’s Garden. We’re confident that our fresh carrots will delight diners’ taste buds while being visually appealing on the plate, and here are just two of the many things that set us apart:
Production of exceptional specialty and heirloom vegetables, herbs, microgreens, edible flowers and more, harvested and shipped fresh to chefs, discerning home cooks and restaurants around the world
The Chef and Farmer Concept®: We are devoted—no, we are relentlessly devoted—to delivering exactly what’s required, serving as chefs’ personal farmers. We will grow virtually anything that your creativity inspires. Innovation is a guiding principle at the farm, and we are continuously developing new product sizes, colors, textures and flavors for you to taste that we hope will galvanize your imagination, spark a fresh idea and keep your guests marveling at the dishes you serve them in your restaurant.
Please contact your Product Specialist with your list of needs or apply to become a customer today!