If you thought that carrots were just carrots, big ones for soup and baby ones as a side, you’ve obviously been meeting with the wrong kind of carrots! In this post, we’ll introduce you to a few very popular varieties and the weird and wonderful world of exciting carrot varieties you’ll only get if you grow at home.
Garden Freshness: The Best Thing About Home-Growing
There’s a difference between garden-fresh carrots and ones that have been through the whole farm to packhouse, to store distribution and sales network. It’s not surprising that they’re a bit tired by the time you buy them at a grocery store.
Carrots fresh from the garden, on the other hand, are sweet, crispy, crunchy and full of flavour. They’re also a LOT juicier and that makes a bigger difference than you might have expected!
Growing carrots is easy!
It’s so easy growing carrots from seed that most people are inclined to sow the seeds too thickly. They germinate well, and it always feels like a bit of a shame when you have to do a lot of thinning out.
The main thing you need to know about carrots is that you will ALWAYS sow them where they are to grow. That could be a deep enough container or a veg bed. You want a nice soil texture to get straight carrots, so if your soil tends to be stony, containers could be your best bet.
As for getting them to germinate, nothing could be easier! Just follow the instructions on your Seeds of Plenty seed packet, and you’re good to go!
Next, we take an in-depth look at some of the best carrot varieties to grow in your Aussie veg garden.
No, Carrots Don’t Have to be Orange: A Spectrum of Fabulous Carrot Varieties
Think carrots, and the first and only colour you think of is orange. It’s even become part of the language. A teasing name for a redhead is “carrot top,” but as metaphors go, it’s not all that accurate.
There are also variations in shape across carrot varieties. From stocky fat carrots to slender roots with lots of taper, there’s plenty of variability in the carrot gene-pool. Let’s dive in and have a look at a spectrum of carrot varieties to illustrate this.
Tried and True: Chantenay Royal
Chantenay Royal carrots are fairly conventional. To begin with, they are orange. What makes them stand out, however, is their stocky form. That makes them very practical for slicing, juicing, and grating. These carrots are a garden staple: they’re well worth growing and there will be no surprises.
Colour Comes Creeping in – Chantenay Red Cored
When you slice a carrot, you’re probably expecting the core to have a lighter colour than the outer layer of flesh, but the red hearts of these attractive, red-cored Chantenay carrots give them an element of surprise.
Apart from that, they’re still Chantenays. They have the stocky form and the sweet, juicy flavour. Add colour to your cooking with this delightful carrot variety.
Little Finger Carrot Seeds for the Best “Baby Carrots”
Like Chantenay, Little Finger Carrots are quite widely grown. Let’s just clear up the confusion about baby carrots.
Harvesting carrots too young or too old will result in a bitter taste. So, where do baby carrots come from? The frozen ones are really pieces of bigger carrots processed through a machine that gives them a baby carrot shape.
The ones you buy at the greengrocer are mini carrot varieties. They are mature carrots, but the variety doesn’t get very big. Little Finger is a great example. In this case, the difference between home-grown baby carrots and store-bought ones is definitely flavour.
Scarlet Nantes for a Finer Texture
As we’ve already pointed out, there’s more to carrots than meets the eye, but in the case of Scarlet Nantes, you can take this quite literally.
You may have noticed that the outer part of the carrot root is certainly a lot softer than the inner core. Scarlet Nantes looks like an ordinary orange carrot, but gives you more flesh and much less core. The result is a finer texture. Once again, it’s a multi-purpose carrot. Choose it for its texture.
Cosmic Purple Carrots – Really?
Yes, really. Carrots can be cosmic purple. This trippy looking carrot has a purple outside and an orange core, so slicing it up causes quite a colour explosion! This carrot variety exemplifies the fun side of surprising carrot varieties better than any other.
You might be wondering if these weird and wonderful carrots taste odd, but they don’t! The flavour is excellent as is the crunch. But there’s a hidden benefit. Purple colour indicates the presence of anthocyanins – powerful antioxidants that will add to the already-amazing cocktail of nutrients you get when you eat carrots.
Atomic Red – Really, Really Red
The plantsman’s version of red may not always be your idea of red, but Atomic Red carrots are, undeniably, as red as can be! Once again, the extra pigment indicates a nutritional boost besides being as pretty as a picture. Colourful foods in your diet are so much more than just a matter of “eating with the eyes.”
Atomic Red is a slender carrot variety which will mean a little more scraping per volume when you’re preparing them, but the amazing colour, which actually gets more intense when cooked, will be your top reason for choosing them.
Lunar White Carrots: Smooth Flavour
No, they are not parsnips. They are indubitably carrots! Before we all got the idea that carrots should be orange, white carrots grew in Europe and were used as a food. The orange, red, and purple genes come from the middle-east.
Lunar White carrots are descended from the European carrot gene pool, but taste… like the carrots we are so familiar with – but with a little less bite to the flavour.
A few people are allergic to beta carotene, a nutrient that’s good for most of us. White carrots are still highly nutritious but don’t contain enough of this nutrient to trigger allergies. However, even if you just want to get a bit creative with carrots, Lunar White’s flavour will impress you. Enjoy it raw or cooked.
Are You Ready For Crunch Time?
If you’re feeling inspired and excited about growing your own carrots, well, so are we! The first ingredient you need is the seeds, and we’ve got the varieties you already know and love plus some fun variations from the norm. Just pop in to our online store, and place your orders. Nothing could be easier!