Monday, October 12, 2009
Carrots for fun
‘Purple Haze’ - Jaspenelle Stewart
One of the major delights of having a garden is the pleasure that can be derived from sharing the bounty produced. It is fun to be able to give little gifts of flowers and fruits, and it is even better when those gifts can be used as part of a gentle encouragement to induce others into trying gardening on their own account.
I take particular joy in sharing our garden with some little friends of ours, de facto grandchildren who visit regularly. They always ask if they can take some flowers home, and are always keen to inspect the raspberry patch, forever hopeful that a crop may have miraculously appeared overnight. These inspections are regularly carried out in the depths of winter when we are struggling to find a vase of flowers, much less a trug of raspberries.
They have another passion which surprised me at first – they often ask if they can pull some carrots. It is not something I would have immediately thought of as being extremely attractive to two young girls, but they love the sweet taste of garden fresh carrots – and I suspect, they like being able to get their hands dirty digging for the carrots too.
I have a little surprise in store for them this year.
I have been hunting my local garden centres looking for F1 hybrid carrots, as I find they do so much better than the older open pollinated types. I simply could not find any until late this week, when one nurseryman had the cheek to show me some new hybrid carrots they had received – ‘Purple Haze’.
I am of an age that ‘Purple Haze’ is a Jimi Hendrix song about smoking marijuana, but it is an American bred hybrid, a Nantes style carrot, and the breeders have managed to take carrots back to their original purple colouring. The purple colouring only extends through the skin and outer part of the carrot – the core is still orange.
I cannot wait to see the kids’ faces when they pull purple carrots out of the garden!
The purple colour dulls considerably with cooking so they are probably best eaten raw, or perhaps just lightly steamed.
There are, of course, quite a few purple vegetables that share this trait. I have grown purple pole beans that also go green when cooked, and even purple capsicum loses much of its colour when it is cooked.