Thursday, 29 March 2012

Ever seen purple carrots?

Purple Carrots in a local supermarket chain Sydney by Mrs James

We are so conditioned to the fact that carrots are orange; or are they? Did you know that the original carrot was actually purple?  Carrots belong to the species Daucus carota and wild carrot is quite different from the domestic carrot most of us use today. Carrots are said to have originated about 5000 years ago near Afganistan, as either a purple or orange variety. The Dutch have been credited with developing the sweeter and soft orange carrot over years of horticulture experimentation.

The Age newspaper presented this article in 2010 "Purple carrots the next superfood" -click here to view by Kelsey Munro. It states Lindsay Brown (Professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Southern Queensland) has found the origina lPersian purple carrots to be high in anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants. There are 28 times more anthocyanins in purple carrots than in their orange cousions. Here is another article titled 

Move over spinach: Purple carrots are the new 'supervegetable' 

The image above is a packet of purple carrots from the Three brothers property in Tasmania. They state "Carrots originated in ancient Persia, then spread slowly across the Middle East, Africa and western Europe. Carrots were originally yellow, white, red and purple until Dutch growers bred an orange variety in the 17th century – it was said to honour William of Orange."

Some recipes to try (original orange and purple juice-high in antioxidants!) from the Tasmanian growers three brothers website.

Other recipes:

Purple Spuds and Kale grown in Blue Mountains by Viviene Tuckerman

I do wonder how they sourced the original varietal seeds?  Have purple carrots been growing in other regions and so continued to exist? If they were phased out, were original seeds found? How? Where?  Anyone know or can shed some light on the redevelopment of purple carrots?

On the recommendation of Jess Melkman, a fellow Sydney educator I am hoping to purchase the Edible History of Humanity, for our department over the holidays.


1 comment:

  1. Hello Food Tech people,

    Ah, yes, when you mentioned purple carrots, it took me back to my botany studies at first year uni. I stopped to think, now what content would cause the carrots to appear purple but saw you listed the flavonoid, anthocyanin. It saved me going back to find out.

    It's not so much these carrots don't have carotene to give them the colour we know as normal, it's just their anthocyanin is at high level.

    I also saw references suggesting the purple carrots could be the next super food because the antioxidant levels. Perhaps I should add some to my already use of standard carrots.

    One thing is certain, trying recipe with different vegetables can unlock unusual tastes. The recipes seem interesting.

    Teacher, NSW, Australia