The carrot can trace its ancestry back thousands of years, originally having been cultivated in central Asian and Middle Eastern countries, along with parts of Europe. These original carrots looked different from those that we are accustomed to today, featuring red, purple, and yellow coloring rather than the bright orange that we've become accustomed to in U.S. supermarkets. Carrots became widely cultivated in Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries and were first brought over to North America during this same general time period.
In today's commercial marketplace, China currently produces about one-third of all carrots bought and sold worldwide. Russia is the second largest carrot producer, with the U.S. following a close third. Many European countries produce substantial amounts of carrots (over 400,000 metric tons) and Turkey, Mexico, India, Indonesia, Australia and Canada are also important countries in the worldwide production of carrots. Within the U.S., about 12,000 acres of carrots for processing are planted each year, resulting in about 320,000 tons of carrots. Over 80% of all fresh market carrot production in the U.S. comes from California, with Michigan and Texas emerging as the next two largest fresh production states.
Currently,U.S. adults average about 12 pounds of carrot intake each year. Approximately 9 pounds are being consumed in fresh form, with the other 3 pounds are being consumed in frozen or canned products. This amount translates into approximately 1 cup of carrots each week in fresh, frozen, or canned form.
How to select and store: Carrot roots should be firm, smooth, relatively straight and bright in color. The deeper the orange-color, the more beta-carotene is present in the carrot. Avoid carrots that are excessively cracked or forked as well as those that are limp or rubbery. In addition, if the carrots do not have their tops attached, look at the stem end and ensure that it is not darkly colored as this is also a sign of age. If the green tops are attached, they should be brightly colored, feathery and not wilted. Since the sugars are concentrated in the carrots' core, generally those with larger diameters will have a larger core and therefore be sweeter.
Carrots are hardy vegetables that will keep longer than many others if stored properly. The trick to preserving the freshness of carrot roots is to minimize the amount of moisture they lose. To do this, make sure to store them in the coolest part of the refrigerator in a plastic bag or wrapped in a paper towel, which will reduce the amount of condensation that is able to form. They should be able to keep fresh for about two weeks. Research has shown that the especially valuable (all-E)-beta-carotene isomer is well-retained in carrots if stored properly. Carrots should also be stored away from apples, pears, potatoes and other fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene gas since it will cause them to become bitter.
If you purchase carrot roots with attached green tops, the tops should be cut off before storing in the refrigerator since they will cause the carrots to wilt prematurely as they pull moisture from the roots. While the tops can be stored in the refrigerator, kept moist by being wrapped in a damp paper, they should really be used soon after purchase since they are fragile and will quickly begin to wilt.
I love soup. Soup is versatile one pot wonders. The foundation of any soup is the stock. You can cook soup in 30 minutes or less, but it will taste like you cooked the soup all day.
Southwestern Beef Soup
Copyright 2011 Christine's Pantry. All rights reserved.
1 pound ground beef
1 (14.5 oz) can carrots, drained
1 onion, chopped
2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 (14 oz) can green beans, drained
1 (14.5 oz) can fire roasted tomatoes
4 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon chipotle pepper sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
In a large pot, add ground beef. Season ground beef with salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Breaking ground beef up as it cooks, cook until no longer pink. Add beef broth and remaining ingredients. Bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer until potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes. Taste and season, if desired. Enjoy!
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