Do you know how baby carrots are created?
Quick – what orange vegetable is bite size from the store and found in many veggie trays.
If you said baby carrots you would be right, but there are a few things you should know before you eat another one. Like how those baby carrots became baby carrots in the first place, including processing.
Not long ago one of my readers asked me about those cute little baby carrots. Okay – full disclosure – it was my niece and she is a reader. She had a great concern after reading an article about baby carrots and how they become baby carrots.
In the name of understanding food, I put on my sleuth hat and began investigating.
My first stop in this investigation begins at the grocery store. It was easy to spot the baby carrots on the shelf. In my local grocery store they’re available in both organic and non-organic. If you look closely at them, all the carrots seem to be about the same size and smoothness. They’re peeled and the perfect size to pop into your mouth.
Hmmm, I began thinking about the farmers market and my own garden. The closest I’ve ever seen a carrot to this size was a thumb carrot. And they weren’t perfectly round top and bottom.
So where do these baby carrots come from if not the garden?
It comes out that Mike Yurosek, a smart carrot farmer, created baby carrots in the late 1980’s. Mike created them to make a profit on carrots the supermarkets wouldn’t buy due to how they looked. He was throwing away tons of carrots every year he couldn’t sell. Before baby carrots came along the majority that didn’t make the carrot cut ended up in the trash or compost.
Mike Yurosek used an industrial bean cutter to cut the carrots into 2-inch lengths. Then he used an industrial potato peeler to smooth them down. Not only did this invention help the farmer, but it also gave whole pieces of carrots to the public for easy eating. Not to mention it helped change the carrot farming industry. Today some carrot farms grow and cultivate carrots specifically to be baby carrots.
Now you know how baby carrots are created.
How are baby carrots processed once these carrots get their small smooth form?
After getting cut and smoothed baby carrots are rinsed in chlorinated water. They get a second rinsing of plain water before being packaged. Chlorine water is used in many pre-cut veggies to limit the risk of foodborne illnesses such as E-coli. All chlorinated water rinses are within EPA standards.
Yes – organic and conventionally grown baby carrots both go through this process.
Remember organic means how your food is grown and processed without GMO (genetically modified organism) or GE (Genetically engineered). Organic means no synthetic pesticides and grown in a humane way. But chlorine is allowed in small amounts in organic food and processing for sanitation. You can read the entire ruling for chlorine and organic food here if you choose. http://articles.extension.org/pages/18355/approved-chemicals-for-use-in-organic-postharvest-systems
So, let’s think about all this information for a minute.
The baby carrot is still a carrot and comes with all the nutritional benefits of a regular carrot. This is awesome – whole food.
Baby carrots help feed more people, help the farmer, and have less waste. Plus, the carrot industry has evolved into a more diverse farming practice. These are all good things in my book. What about yours?
Baby carrots are first washed in a chlorine solution, then rinsed again in plain water.
Are you okay with this?
If you’re not okay with your baby carrots being washed in a chlorine solution, but you love the convenience – you have a few options. But you will need to do a little work.
- Find true baby carrots which are not manufactured. They do not look perfectly shaped. They look like an actual miniature or young carrot. The tops are wider, and the bottom smaller.
- Grow your own true baby carrots.
- Make your own baby carrots or carrot slices from larger carrots.
Make your own baby or bite-size carrots in 4 quick steps.
- After purchasing or growing your own organic carrots wash off the carrots and either remove the skin or scrub the skin off.
- Cut the carrots into the size you want. You can use a knife, a slicer, or food processor.
- Rinse the carrots a second time.
- Store cut carrots in your refrigerator either in water or in a damp towel.
Carrots stored in water will lose nutrients. You will need to change the water daily to every few days to prevent spoilage. You don’t want the water or carrots to feel slimy.
If you’re storing your cut carrots in a damp towel place the towel and carrots in an airtight container. Change damp towel as needed.
Personally, I avoid chlorine as much as I can – but that doesn’t mean you agree with me.
Now you know how your baby carrots are created and processed. Plus, you have a few options if you want bite-size carrots without the chlorine.