This member of the parsley family has lacy green foliage and long, slender, edible orange roots. Carrots have been renowned for over 2,000 years for their health-giving properties and high vitamin A content. Their year-round availability makes them an immensely popular vegetable. If buying carrots with their greenery, make sure the leaves are moist and bright green; the carrots should be firm and smooth. Avoid those with cracks or any that have begun to soften and wither. The best carrots are young and slender. Tiny baby carrots are very tender but, because of their lack of maturity, not as flavorful as their full-grown siblings. Remove carrot greenery as soon as possible because it robs the roots of moisture and vitamins. Store carrots in a plastic bag in the refrigerator's vegetable bin. Avoid storing them near apples, which emit ethylene gas that can give carrots a bitter taste. A light rinsing is all that's necessary for young carrots and tiny baby carrots; older carrots should be peeled. If carrots have become limp, recrisp them in a bowl of ice water. The coarse core of older carrots should be removed. Carrots may be eaten raw or cooked in almost any manner imaginable.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.