Did you know that at one time there were actually no orange carrots? It seems hard to believe now with the popularity of the “baby carrot” and the plethora of colored carrots available at the Farmer’s Market. The wild carrot is the progenitor or wild ancestor of the domestic carrot, and it is and was actually a small, tough pale fleshed, bitter white root. Speaking of those colorful carrots at the market, what’s up with the white carrots? Are they wild carrots? Keep reading to find out about growing white carrots and other white carrot info.
White Carrot History
Seeds from the wild carrot have been found dating 10,000 years ago! At that time, the carrot was not cultivated. Cultivation of carrots was recorded in what is present day Afghanistan around 1,000 years ago, but those carrots would have been yellow or purple. They are referred to as Eastern/Asiatic carrots.
Western or carotene carrots have orange, red or white roots and were derived from hybrids of the above group from yellow eastern carrots, white carrots and wild carrots that grow in the Mediterranean. Carotene carrots are a relatively new addition dating from the 16th or 17th century.
White Carrot Info
White carrots are bereft of pigment and are very low in total carotenoid content. As such, they are an excellent option for those with a carotene allergy. Despite the lack of pigmentation, white carrots are very good for you. They contain phytochemicals that can help to reduce the risk of cancer and stroke and may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, the buildup of fatty tissue on artery walls. White carrots also contain dietary fiber that helps fight against colon cancer.
White carrots are used in many baby foods to prevent infants from getting orange skin, a condition called Carotenemia. Carotenemia is an alarming but benign condition that may cause a child’s skin to turn orange. It means that the child is eating too many foods, such as carrots or sweet potatoes, which are high in carotene.
Growing White Carrots
The key to growing healthy carrots, whether white or any other color, is a prepared bed. Start with sandy, well-draining loam. Till the garden, mixing in plenty of organic matter; tilling is important to loosen the soil so the roots grow straight and long. Sow seeds Â½ inch deep and 1-2 inches apart. When the plants are 4 inches tall, thin them to 2-4 inches apart.
Provide the carrots with one inch of water per week depending upon weather conditions. Keep the area around the carrots free of weeds.
In about 75 days, the white carrots will be ready to harvest, as I’m sure you to will be ready to crunch into the mildly, sweet, creamy white roots of a Middle Ages root vegetable.