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How Baby Carrots are Made

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Friend of The Food Geek, Angela, asks via Twitter

Angela Orebaugh ☀

: Why do regular carrots have more “carrot” taste than baby carrots? Those from my garden taste the most carrot-y.

Hi, Angela,

The things that you get in the grocery store in a big bag that look kind of like orange thumbs that they call baby carrots are not, in fact, baby carrots. Real baby carrots are the things that you get occasionally at a good grocery store but more usually at a farmer’s market that look like regular carrots, but smaller.

Real-Deal Baby Carrots
Maple Pan-Roasted Baby Carrots Mushroom-Dill Sauce Baby Carrots Pickled in Champagne & Sherry Vinegars Roasted Baby Squash, Carrots & Potatoes
Maple Pan-Roasted Baby Carrots   Baby Carrots Pickled in Champagne & Sherry Vinegars   Roasted Baby Squash, Carrots & Potatoes

Orange-thumb carrots are a manufactured product. You start with big carrots (sometimes very big carrots) and dump them into a machine. The next time you see them, they are the wee thumbs. It’s almost Seussian, but without all of the interesting horns and bellows that would make for a truly fantastic machine.

Part of the problem with these carrots is that they are bred for growth rather than flavor. Part of the problem is that a great deal of the flavor is closer to the surface (though not right on the surface). Part of the problem is that the more surface you have exposed to the air, the more flavor you will lose over time, and most of what you’re doing with the orange-thumb machine is exposing a greater percentage of the carrot to the air. Part of the reason is that picking a carrot and eating it quickly is going to give you more flavor than shipping it across the world and eating it after it’s sat in a store. And, finally, part of the reason is that things you grow are just going to taste better because you grew them. As it should be.




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  • User avater
    artybee | 12/26/2011

    That's for sure. Those fake baby carrots are bland and, well, fake. Once you've eaten wonderful, sweet real baby carrots, you realize that these carrot nuggets are just jive. Are they edible? Of course, and probably healthier than eating chips or cheetos, but you'd be better off just eating 1 or 2 regular organic carrots, rinsed and peeled.
    I generally avoid foods with unnecessary plastic packaging. It's landfill. Why buy it if you don't have to? Same with those heads of bibb lettuce in the plastic box. What a waste of resources!
    I wonder what happens to the tons of carrot pulp that are ground off the fake baby carrots?

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