Heirloom Carrots: Weird, But Delicious!

Maybe you’ve seen these weird things around. They look like carrots but they’re purple or yellow or magenta, sometimes even almost black. To some, they can be a little off-putting—unknown vegetables make a lot of people uncomfortable, even grown-ups. Well, consider this your introduction to heirloom carrots.

Where did they come from? Before food production became widely industrialized (think gigantic tractors and conveyor-belt food processing) there were a lot more variations of the vegetables that most of us know today. Small-scale farmers used the seeds from their tastiest and best vegetables to grow the next year’s crop. With lots of farmers doing this over the years, there came to be more variation among the fruits, vegetables, flowers and even livestock that they produced. Today, we use the term “heirloom” to denote these older, more interesting varieties.

So how about the carrot’s heirloom varieties? They taste just like a carrot only a little tastier (!) and you can use them in any recipe that calls for carrots. Often the color will fade if they are cooked, so to capitalize on the exciting part—the color--choose recipes that leave the carrot raw. Carrots don’t need to be peeled as long as they are cleaned well with water. If they get soft in the fridge, they can be crisped up by submerging them completely in water for a half day or so. See below for a simple recipe to get acquainted with these weird, delicious carrots.

Recipe: Simple Summer Heirloom Carrot Salad

  • 2 cups of heirloom carrots, washed and grated
  • a squeeze or so of a lemon, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • dash sea salt or kosher salt

Combine and serve! This recipe can be modified very easily. Throw in a sprig of chopped fresh herbs or add a small handful of seeds, chopped nuts or dried fruit.

Katy Morrison, ND, LAc