How are Baby Carrots Grown?
Baby carrots that are found in the grocery stores and packaged are actually made not grown. The idea came to a farmer in California named, Mike Yurosek, to sell carrots that were shaped into baby carrots and cut down to be ready for snack consumption. In 2006, nearly all “baby-cut” carrots are processed and shipped out of California to all over the country. The new shape of the carrots helped to increase consumption per person and grow the industry. Depending on the thickness and shape of the fully grown carrot, multiple 2-inch size baby carrots can be cut out. The cull or remains that are not used are then processed for animal feed as well as juice. All of the carrot is used.
These baby carrots are typically wet when purchased to keep from dehydration. Once a “blush” or white cast to the carrot appears, that means it is dehydrated and the blush can simply be removed by soaking. Storing your carrots in low-temperature with high-humidity is the best to keep the blush at bay. Keeping carrots in water or wrapped in wet paper towel will keep them longer in your produce drawer.
That all being said, there are many vegetables that are being harvested before maturity and resulted in baby sizes. There has been a trend for “baby” vegetables at many grocery stores and upper-end restaurants. Typically, you can spot the carrots that are harvested before they are ready because they still have their greenery attached. Carrots that are grown this way are said to have an intense sweetness that is concentrated. Next time you are in your grocery store, see how many “baby” vegetables you can spot.
To make matters more confusion, there are also specific carrot varieties that are grown to only be 3 to 4 inches in length. These carrots would be grown to maturity and would not be considered babies. These miniature carrots are often grown by container gardeners or those that have rocky soil where a taproot can’t emerge easily.
Some miniature carrot varieties include:
‘Babette’ – This is a true baby carrot that was bred in France for its sweet flavor and gourmet appeal. The deep, orange vegetable is perfect for roasting or adding to a summer salad. This variety will only reach 3 to 4 inches long and is said to be sweeter than any “baby-cut” carrot you have tasted.
‘Little Finger’ – Another variety that will only reach 3 inches in length and bred in France specifically for canning and pickling. Great for gardeners who live in apartments or condos as they can be successfully planted in containers or windowboxes. Said to have a sweet flavor that is great for snacking raw.
If you are new to gardening or haven’t ever grown anything from seed before, carrots are a great first pick. The seed germinates rather quickly when watered daily and the picking your own vegetables to make into a meal is a really rewarding task. Try planting some seeds this year and compare the flavor to “baby cut” carrots.
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