This humble member of the parsley family has been renowned for its nutritional profile. In fact, carrots are one of the most nutritious root vegetables you can buy. They are an excellent source of beta carotene, which gives carrots their bright orange hue. Low in calories and high in fiber, carrot’s carotene helps protect our sight and night vision, can improve our cardiovascular health and aids in the maintenance of healthy lungs. Terrific in both sweet and savory applications, carrots contain vitamin C and E as well as potassium, calcium and a host of other minerals.
It’s important to remember that beta carotene is a fat soluble compound. This
means that you absorb more of it if you prepare or eat your carrots with a little fat or oil.
Carrots are available all year, although they grow best in cool weather. If you tend to purchase carrots with their feathery green tops still intact, look to make sure that the leaves are moist and bright green. Any carrots you buy should be smooth and firm. Avoid those that look withered or appear soft.
Carrots, like most root vegetables, are quite hardy and if stored properly can stay fresh for weeks. The key to storing carrots is to minimize the amount of moisture they might lose in storage. To prevent moisture loss, wrap carrots in a plastic bag or some paper towels. Always store carrots in the coolest part of the refrigerator.
An important caveat- keep carrots far away from apples and pears once refrigerated. These fruit (as well as potatoes) naturally release ethylene gas that can give carrots a bitter taste and cause them to spoil more quickly.