Carrots 101 – The Basics

Carrots have been around for a VERY long time and we have learned to enjoy them in many, many ways. There is a lot to be said about carrots, from their nutritional aspects to how to prepare them. I’ve covered it all in the video below. My notes are available to use as needed. They are below the video link. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!

Carrots 101 – The Basics

About Carrots
Carrots are root vegetables that most of us are familiar with. The orange variety is available in most, if not all grocery stores in the United States. However, carrots also come in purple, black, red, white and yellow varieties. Carrots have been traced back 5,000 years in historical documents and paintings, but they may have been used earlier than that. They were originally used as medicine for a number of ailments, and not for food. Scientists have traced carrots back as far as the dinosaurs!

Nutrition Tidbits
The high carotenoid contents of carrots, that gives them their color, also gives them valuable health properties. We’ve all heard that carrots are good for our eyes. This is a very true statement. The alpha- and beta-carotene, and lutein (among other important compounds in carrots) not only help keep our eyes healthy, but also promote cardiovascular health, and have anti-cancer properties too.

Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A), and a very good source of biotin, fiber, molybdenum, potassium, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin C. They also are good sources of manganese, copper, other B vitamins, and Vitamin E.

According to The World’s Healthiest Foods website, carrots are a very good source of Vitamin K, whereas other resources state the Vitamin K content of carrots is low. So, there seems to be conflicting information about the amount of Vitamin K in carrots. It may depend on how the vegetable was grown. If you are taking blood thinning medications, how many carrots you can eat may be something to ask your doctor about.

People who eat an overabundance of carrots may notice their skin has turned yellow. This is nothing to worry about. It’s due to the large amount of beta-carotene they’ve ingested from the carrots. Simply cut back on the amount of carrots eaten and the condition will clear itself up.

How to Select Carrots
In most grocery stores, carrots can be found whole, with or without their green tops, sliced, shredded, and ground down to “baby” carrot size. This selection can make food prep faster and easier, depending upon your needs. The following information pertains to purchasing whole, uncut carrots.

Look for carrots that are firm, smooth, bright in color and relatively straight. Avoid those that are excessively cracked, or limp or rubbery. If the green tops are not attached, look at the color of the stem end. Darker color indicates an older carrot. If the green tops are still attached, they should be brightly colored, feathery, and not wilted.

The sugars are concentrated in the core of the carrot. So, larger carrots will be sweeter than very thin ones.

How to Store Carrots
Store carrots in the refrigerator, preferably in the coolest part. Minimize moisture loss by keeping them in a plastic bag or wrapped in paper towels to help reduce condensation. Store them away from ethylene-producing fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears and potatoes. The ethylene gas can cause the carrots to taste bitter. They should keep well for about two weeks in the refrigerator. When you go to use them, discard any that smell or look bad…when in doubt throw them out!

Extra fresh carrots can easily be frozen. Blanch whole small carrots in boiling water for 5 minutes. Blanch diced or sliced carrots, or those cut into lengthwise strips for 2 minutes. Start counting the time as soon as the carrots are placed in the boiling water. Transfer the blanched carrots to an ice water bath for the same length of time they were blanched. Then drain them well and place them in freezer containers or bags. They should keep well for 10 to 12 months in the freezer.

Here is a link to my video “Dehydrating or Freezing Carrots”

Blanched carrots may also be dehydrated. Follow the instructions that came with your dehydrator for length of time and temperature for dehydrating your carrots.

How are carrots usually eaten…raw or cooked?
Carrots can be eaten raw or cooked, and they are very popular eaten both ways.

We are actually able to absorb more of the beta-carotene from cooked carrots over raw ones. However prolonged cooking, or cooking carrots in a lot of water will destroy or leach out many other nutrients. So, to get the most out of your cooked carrots, opt for steaming or a cooking method that subjects them to the least amount of water possible.

Fresh vs Frozen vs Canned
In most American grocery stores, carrots are available fresh, frozen and canned, year-round.

Fresh carrots are usually your best nutritional option and they are the most versatile, since they can be eaten raw or cooked in whatever way you want.

Frozen carrots are a great second choice since they are usually processed quickly after being harvested and a lot of their nutritional content has been preserved.

Canned options are always a good staple to have on hand for many reasons, especially in case of emergencies. But nutritionally speaking, they are the least preferred option.

How to Prepare Fresh Carrots
Wash and scrub carrots when you are ready to use them. Peeling them is not mandatory, but optional. Cut away and discard any parts that look aged or unhealthy.

Peeled carrots that are allowed to sit unused for a while may turn whitish. This is simply a sign of dehydration from being exposed to the air. A little time in a bowl of water will revive them, if desired.

The green carrot leaves ARE edible and not toxic. However, they do contain some compounds (alkaloids and nitrates) that some people may react to. Therefore, whether you choose to eat the tops or not is solely up to you. If you opt out, toss them outside for your local rabbit to enjoy! [Note that there are look-alike plants to wild carrots…obviously not in the grocery store. The tops of those plants are NOT edible.]

Cooking/Serving Methods
Raw: Shredded or chopped carrots make great additions to salads. They add crunch, flavor, color, and valuable nutrients.

Shredded carrots, beets and apples can make a wonderful salad in themselves.

Carrot sticks make a great addition to any finger-food setup and can be enjoyed plain or used as a vehicle for dipping your favorite accompaniment.

Spiced carrot sticks are an interesting variation at parties or at the dinner table. Soak carrot sticks in hot water spiced with cayenne, coriander seeds and salt. Allow to cool, drain and serve.

Fresh carrots can be added to your favorite smoothie, if you have a high-speed blender. (If not, cooked carrots will blend up well in most any blender!)

Fresh carrot juice is absolutely delicious! Pair it with apples or pineapple for an exceptional beverage.

Cooked: Carrots can be boiled, steamed, stir-fried, stir-steamed, braised, roasted, added to soups, stews and chowders, baked in cookies, muffins and cakes, added to pot pies, baked into chips, added to smoothies, and who knows what else! It’s only limited to your imagination.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well With Carrots
Allspice, basil, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, curry, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, mace, mint, nutmeg, paprika, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme

Foods That Go Well With Carrots
Dairy: Cream, cream cheese, browned butter, butter

Sweets and Fruit: Brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, molasses, raisins, apples, orange, lemon

Grains: Rice, pasta, oats

Proteins: Chicken, turkey, beef, pork (including ham and bacon), beans and legumes, walnuts

Vegetables: Celery, kale, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, peas, peppers, potatoes, spinach, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard

Some Suggested Flavoring Combos:
carrots + cumin + orange
carrots + maple syrup + orange
carrots + pistachios + turnips
carrots + peas + onions
carrots + cilantro + lime
carrots + honey + balsamic vinegar
carrots + honey + thyme
carrots + caraway seeds + butter

How about a salad of your favorite leafy greens topped with shaved carrots, clementine sections, and toasted pepitas, all topped a citrus salad dressing. (Here’s a recipe for All-Purpose Citrus Dressing that would be perfect for this salad, found at

Recipe links
Easy Orange Glazed Carrots (with Frozen Carrots)

Roasted Honey (or Maple) Carrots with Walnuts

Fast, Easy, Honey Glazed Carrots (from fresh carrots)

Cook Easy, Fast, Glazed Carrots (from frozen carrots)

Easy Kale, Carrot and Mushroom Combo

Kohlrabi Carrot Pineapple Salad

Carrot Coconut Soup

Primavera Verde

Steamed Vegetable Medley

Super Carrot Raisin Salad

Minted Green Peas and Carrots

Carrot Cashew Pate

Roasted Brown Butter Honey Garlic Carrots

Assorted recipes using carrots

20 of Our Best Carrot Recipes You Need to Try

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.


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