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Purple Carrot Popularity Explodes
Purple carrots are catching on fast at farmers’ markets and in home gardens across North America. Described as a super food by some, purple carrots are loaded with beneficial nutrients, according to Kathy McFarland, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co.
  “The market for purple carrot heirlooms is growing fast as people rediscover them,” says McFarland.
  According to the World Carrot Museum, based in the U.K., both yellow and purple carrots originated in central Asia. Orange carrots were first bred in the 17th century. Purple carrots have always been grown widely in India.
  All carrots are loaded with dietary fiber, vitamins A, K and C, and potassium and manganese. Like other colored carrots, purple carrots contain carotenoids, especially lutein. They’re also high in plant pigments called anthocyanins.
  The World Carrot Museum reports that purple carrots have as much as 28 times the anthocyanins as orange carrots and are also higher in other antioxidants. They have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, antiseptic, antimicrobial and anti-carcinogenic properties.
  Purple carrot pigments can be used as a natural colorant in candy and jelly. Their natural antioxidants are also being used to delay rancidity in sunflower oil.
  McFarland encourages market gardeners to introduce purple carrots to their customers. However, like any new crop, she suggests including recipes and “how to use” advice.
  Some purple carrots have orange or yellow insides and lose their color when cooked. Baker Creek’s Pusa Asita Black carrot is dark all the way through. McFarland suggests treating it like beets when adding to recipes, as the purple color will bleed.
  The Pusa Asita Black is open-pollinated, so properly saved seed will reproduce. Carrots are biennial. Replanted mature carrots or overwintered and heavily mulched carrots will produce a seed head in year two. Care must be taken in areas where Queen Anne’s Lace (wild carrot) or other carrots are allowed to mature to prevent cross-pollination. The flowers may need to be covered and hand-pollinated. McFarland suggests the effort is worth it.
  “You should try to produce your own seed and then share them, as this is a rare and precious variety,” she says.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co., 2278 Baker Creek Rd., Mansfield, Mo. 65704 (ph 417 924-8917; seeds@rareseeds.com; www.rareseeds.com).

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2016 - Volume #40, Issue #1