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Fall Ingredient Essentials: Carrots

Naturally grown in a host of colors (including purple, yellow, red, and the traditional bright orange), shapes, and sizes, all carrots are crunchy, sweet, and nutritious. One medium carrot -- equal to 6 baby carrots -- packs high levels of Vitamin A, immunity boosting Vitamin C, filling fiber, and potassium in just 25 calories per serving. From munching on them raw to enjoying them pureed into a soup, it’s never been easier to get your fill!

How do I pick the best carrots?

Carrots, no matter the color, should be smooth, firm, and bright. Remember, the brighter and deeper the coloring, the more nutrition you’re getting! If the tops are still attached, ensure they are bright and crisp. If not, inspect the stem end for any rotting or discoloration. A fresh carrot, tops recently removed, will have a dry, light colored stem end. Avoid carrots that are dull, limp, and rubbery, those that have wilted tops, and any with cracks or soft spots. For sweeter carrots go big! The sweetness of a carrot is held in its core. Larger carrots have large cores.

What can I make with carrots?

Carrots are crisp, crunchy, and delicious raw, enjoyed alone or with various dips. They can also be steamed, baked, roasted, boiled, and sautéed (though cooking them through may take a while). Use your fresh carrots for a slice of Spicy Carrot Cake, bowl of Spiced Split Pea and Carrot Soup, taste of a Summer Vegetable Tart, or bite of a Quinoa Veggie Burger. Perfect in sweet and savory dishes, the way you use them is up to you.

If your carrots are fresh and organic, there’s no need for peeling. A quick rinse with those jewel colored beauties is all you need. If you’ve bought bagged carrots that are looking a bit old, peel and rinse them under cool water before use. Then slice, dice, shred, and julienne as your culinary heart desires.

Storage? Fresh carrots are best kept in the coldest part of the fridge. Dry carrots thoroughly then wrap in paper towel. This method will keep carrots fresh and crisp for up to two weeks. For fresh carrots all year long, the best method is freezing. Blanch carrots then submerge in ice cold water. Dry carrots, transfer to freezer safe containers or ziplock bags, and freeze. Frozen carrots are best used within one year.

Recipes to try include: Garlic Habanero BBQ Sauce, Cumin Roasted Cauliflower and Carrots, and Root Vegetable Stew with Jalapeño Dumplings.

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