Ever wondered what carrots taste like? Besides packing plenty of nutritional value and crunch, carrots offer a bitter-sweet, earthy flavor. Once you taste this unique vegetable, it’s sure to become a salad staple. Keep in mind; the taste depends on their color, size, and where they have been grown.
The best part about this vegetable is that there are a variety of ways you can eat it: raw, sautéed, roasted, braised, or glazed. That’s not all! You can serve it as a side dish, main course, and even dessert.
Interestingly, not all carrots are orange-colored; some are yellow, white, black, and even purple! Find out the difference in their flavor palette and more in today’s article.
What does a carrot taste like?
There’s a slight change of taste between the variations of carrots. Although subtle, it can surely make a lot of difference to your dish. Therefore, it’s important to understand the flavor before deciding on how to cook it.
Purple carrot taste
Flavor-wise, this eye-catching vegetable tastes quite different from how it looks! Purple carrots taste incredibly sweet, and sometimes come with a hint of a peppery flavor. Notably, these carrots contain high amounts of anthocyanin antioxidants. These help to improve cardiovascular health, speed weight loss, and reduce the risk of cancer.
One of the most commonly asked question is: how to cook purple carrots? Well, these are best eaten raw or slightly glazed, as they lose their color when heated.
Black carrot taste
Black carrots are another variation you can find in countries like India and China. Because of its rarity, most people are unaware that black varieties of carrots even exist! As explained above, this dark pigment comes from high quantities of anthocyanin. Typically, they’re black on the outside with a pale orange color on the inside.
In terms of taste, they have quite a pleasant flavor but with a mild peppery aftertaste. They’re best eaten raw as part of a fresh salad.
Black carrot benefits include:
- High concentration of antioxidants
- Contains low calories
- Functions as a blood cleanser
- Contains vitamins A,B, and C, as well as calcium
- Benefits the cardiovascular system
Are carrots sweet?
Carrots are the sweetest “root vegetables”, strictly depending on the variety. The red-orange and purple carrots rank the highest in terms of sweetness.
Carrots primarily comprise sugars and terpenoids, which give it a naturally sweet flavor and aroma. These natural sugars include sucrose, glucose, fructose, and maltose. Like any plant, carrots undergo the process of photosynthesis, where they produce the natural sugars. As you allow the carrots to grow, this sugar content gets stored in the root, giving it a sweeter taste. You may have noticed that carrots taste sweeter in winters; that’s because sugar accumulates better on cool evenings. In contrast, the vegetable may taste woody, harsh, and bitter in summers.
If you want to have sweet-tasting carrots, it’s best to glaze or roast them before serving. That’s because carrots taste sweeter when cooked! Regardless of whether you choose to have them raw or cooked, choosing red and purple carrots guarantees a super-sweet snack or meal!
Here’s an interesting fact you probably didn’t know!
How your carrot may taste depends on it’s been cut; this is because of its microstructure. Cutting it with a sharp utensil may release a distinct flavor than what you would get from cutting a carrot with a dull blade.
Why are my carrots bitter?
Unfortunately, not all carrots are sweet; some taste bitter. That’s because terpenoids develop much earlier in the roots than sugar; therefore, carrots that are harvested early taste bitter. Moreover, certain varieties of carrots have higher terpenoids, causing a slightly bitter flavor.
As a matter of fact, carrots grow best in cool seasons. Those grown in hot temperatures are likely to taste bitter. That’s because those growing in summers produce less sugar content or have higher tepenoid, causing an imbalance. Another reason can be phenolic acid, which occurs because of stressful conditions. Protect your plant from pests, flies, and weeds.
It’s also important to allow the carrots to thrive and mature before harvesting them. Ideally, you can harvest them any time between 50 to 80 days. Once you’ve harvested your carrots, store them away from ethylene gas (fruits, such as apples). Do not store your carrots in cold storage for extended periods as they may lose the sucrose content, giving way to bitterness.
Why do carrots taste like soap?
Ever tasted raw carrots only to find a soapy flavor instead of the regular sweetness? It’s not that you didn’t wash the vegetables well; but because of a high concentration of terpenoids. Besides causing a bitter flavor in carrots, this volatile compound is also responsible for causing a soapy flavor. As mentioned above, there are several reasons for this high concentration: soaring temperatures, improper storage, and premature harvesting.
When you pluck carrots before they’re mature, they can give off a soapy taste. Since terpenoids develop way before the sugar does, baby carrots don’t contain enough sugar to balance the soapy taste. As a rule of thumb, harvest carrots at least 50 days after planting. You can also determine their maturity by their size; those that are a half inch in diameter are usually mature and ready for harvesting. Soapy carrots are still safe to eat, as all carrots contain terpenoids, as the component is vital for their growth. If you end up finding a strange soapy taste in your carrots, cook them to break down the terpenoid content in them.
Carrots are an excellent choice of vegetable to make your salads crunchy and to add a sweeter flavor to it. Although, note that their flavor isn’t always consistent. Because of the difference in varieties, carrots can taste super-sweet, bitter, and even soapy!
Avoid soapy and bitter-tasting carrots by asking your local grocer about the specific variety and its growing practice. A good buying practice is to spot carrots with their leaves intact; wilted greens are a sign of older carrots. To avoid getting carrots that taste like they’ve just been washed with soap, always choose red-orange or purple carrots with fresh green tops.