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Ingredient of the Week is going on holidays. It will be back at the start of next Semester with BEANS – kidney, and adzuki and soy. Send your recipes to Edwina and Will at firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, 20 July.
The humble carrot is more correctly known as Daucus carota. It's a close relative of the parsnip, but surprisingly is also closely related to cumin, fennel and dill. Carrots are thought to have originated around the area of Afghanistan and have been used for at least 5000 years. Initially carrots were quite bitter white, yellow, red, purple, green or black tap roots.
The exact origin of the orange carrot is not known but is traditionally placed during the Dutch struggle for independence from the Spanish in the 16th Century. The Dutch do like orange (their royal family was the House of Orange) which is why the modern carrot is orange. By the 17th Century the Dutch were the world's leading producers of the orange carrot which had better flavour and nutritional content of any of the carrots grown at the time. Further cross-breeding over time has led to the intense orange colouring and sweetness we have come to know and love.
Today, carrots are a great source of carotene (which is made into vitamin A by the body) as well as vitamins B, C, D, and E, and calcium, magnesium and folic acid.