These orange roots are a workhorse in the
kitchen. They bring a rich, sweet flavor to soups, stews and sauces. They
also shine when cooked as a vegetable in their own right. Though available
year-round, carrots have different characteristics in each season. In
spring, you'll find tiny, tender baby carrots with mild flavor. Summer
carrots have a slightly stronger flavor. The very sweetest carrots are
found in the fall and early winter, when the starches convert to sugar in
the cold weather.
To choose - Look for carrots with a
firm texture and smooth skin. Carrots sold with their green tops intact
are likely to be fresher than topless ones sold in plastic bags.
To store - Keep carrots in the
coldest part of the refrigerator and use within a week or two.
To slice - Cut a thin slice off the
length of the carrot to give it a flat, stable base. Then lay the carrot
flat on your work surface for easy slicing.
To prepare old carrots - Remove the
woody cores and use only the outer flesh.
To benefit from a carrot's nutrition
- Much of the nutrition is right under the skin, so rinse and scrub
carrots well, but don't peel them. Raw carrots make a healthy snack, but
for maximum nutrition benefits, cook carrots for at least 3 to 5 minutes.
Cooking helps free beta-carotene from the carrot's fiber cells, making it
easier for your body to absorb.
To use carrot juice - Carrot juice is
a delicious way to get beta-carotene into your diet. Make a blend of
carrot and orange juice to start your day. Or use carrot juice in salad
dressings to replace part of the oil. You can also cook couscous in a
mixture of carrot juice and water. And you can steam fish using carrot
juice for the liquid, seasoning the liquid and thickening with cornstarch.