Random facts about carrots in France, how to prepare glazed carrots by chef Auguste Escoffier, a popular French carrot expression and links to healthy carrot recipes.
French Carrot Season
All year round, thanks to 3 categories:
- New carrots: May - July;
- Seasonal carrots: July - October;
- Regular carrots for storing: October - March.
Some Facts About Carrots in France
- Grown mainly in Brittany, lower Normandy and l'Aquitaine,
- Carrots contain up to 85% water, and are one of the sweetest vegetables.
An anti-oxidant, they contain Vitamins B1, B2 and C;
- Many carrots are grown in sand (carottes sables) with quality varieties such as the Carotte de Créances (AOC) and Carotte de Landes. Don't be put off by their appearance. Just wash off the sand, peel and discover their incredible flavour - sweet and slightly salty;
- Purple carrots have more beta carotene than orange carrots. They have up to 28 times more anthocyanins to make them purple - it's the same pigment found in blueberries.
These act as powerful antioxidants that protect the body.
According to Aprifel, studies have shown that they give us extra protection against various forms of cancer, heart disease and are good anti inflammatory agents.
See purple carrot cake.
Are Carrots Originally Purple?
Like white carrots, purple carrots were around much earlier than orange carrots. They were popular around Afghanistan then the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe about 9000 years ago.
Purple, along with black, yellow, red and white were all popular carrots until as late as the 16th Century.
At this time, the orange carrot was created by the Dutch crossing a red and white variety.
In the 16th century, the orange ‘Longue Orange’ carrot was created by the protestant fan club under the ‘House of Orange’ (source: Museum of Carrots – sadly, it no longer seems to exist online). The beauty of orange carrots is that they don't lose a lot of their colour (like the purple variety) when cooked.
Best Way to Cook Carrots
According to chef Auguste Escoffier in his Guide to Modern Cookery (1903), "Whatever be the ultimate purpose for which carrots are intended, they should be prepared in this way" (also for turnips or navets) - as Glazed Carrots (2059 - carottes glacées pour garnitures).
He instructs that:
"New carrots are not parboiled ; they are turned, whole, halved or quartered, according to their size.
Put the carrots in a saucepan with enough water to cover them well with ½oz of salt, 1oz sugar and 2oz of butter per pint of water. Cook until the water has almost entirely evaporated, so that the reduction may have the consistence of a syrup. Sauté the carrots in this reduction, that they may be covered with a brilliant coat".
Fun French Slang Expression With Carrots
"Les carottes sont cuites"
Familiar expression from the 19th Century meaning "That's the end of that" or "It's finished" (literally translated as the carrots are cooked). Often heard by French commentators during football and rugby matches (believe me, Antoine loves watching so I hear this a lot!).