If you’re a carrot fan, chances are you’ve tasted several different varieties over the years. After crunching all those roots, you’ve also likely discovered that they do not, in fact, all taste alike. Want to know why are some carrots sweeter than others? Let’s dive in and find out?
What’s the Secret? Why are Some Carrots Sweeter than Others?
The simplest answer is just two words long: sugar content.
Carrots have some of the highest sugar content of any root vegetables, followed only slightly by beets. That said, their varying sweetness levels depend entirely on their variety.
Some carrot varieties are known to be much sweeter than others, while others are a solid “meh” on the sweetness scale. If you’re looking for carrots that have an almost candy-like sweetness, aim for red, red-orange, or purple varieties.
Further Reading: Which Carrots are the Sweetest?
Keep in mind that carrots will also taste a bit different depending on how they’re cut. Apparently this is because the carrot’s microstructure is affected by how it’s prepared. For example, a sharp cut will release a particular compound, and will alter the textures within the root. In contrast, chopping with a dull blade or mashing will compress other compounds, changing the flavor.
Isn’t that cool?
Is There a Way to Make Carrots Sweeter?
Other than cutting them differently, as mentioned earlier? Not really. A root vegetable’s sugar content will mostly depend on its genetics. For example, white and yellow carrots are quite bland tasting, so they’re good as “filler” when you mix them with other roots. In contrast, carrots that have warmer, more saturated hues are often the sweetest, as mentioned.
If you’re aiming for sugar-sweet carrots to nom on, aim for the deepest hued ones you can find. A standard supermarket will likely have an abundance of general orange carrots available. They’ll either be full-sized or pre-packaged baby versions, and they’ll all pretty much taste the same. In contrast, farmer’s markets will have far more varieties for you to choose from.
Your best bet for trying to grow carrots that have the highest sugar content possible. Not only will you be able to revel in the flavors that you like best, you’ll have ingredients right outside your door too! And hey: not only are carrots ridiculously easy to grow, it’s always a good idea to grow some of your own food, right?
Related Article: Why are Some Carrots Different Colors?
Besides, there’s really no carrot as tasty as the one you pluck from your garden and eat immediately. Do you know why? As soon as carrots are picked, they start to lose their flavor.
Root vegetables create sugars as carbohydrates over the course of the day. Those sugars accumulate in the roots overnight, especially on cool autumn evenings. In fact, the best time to grow carrots is in the fall. The ones grown during the height of summer’s heat will generally either bolt into seeds, or become woody and bitter.
Pick yours in the early evening, just before you’re ready to make dinner, and they’ll be perfect.
Heat Them Up
Alternatively, if you want to be absolutely sure that your carrots are going to be sweet, make sure to cook them before eating them. All carrots get sweeter when heated, which is why roasted carrots are much sweeter than raw. It’s also why you need to be careful not to add too much sugar to your carrot cake or muffins, or they’ll put you in a diabetic coma with every bite.
Try roasting them with olive oil, garlic, summer savory, and sea salt to really emphasize their flavor. Alternatively, if you’re a sugar fiend, drizzle them with maple or agave syrup and sprinkle a bit of cayenne pepper on them before roasting. You can even pan-fry them in thick slices, or transform them into noodles with a spiral cutter.
However you choose to prepare yours, know that your cooked carrots will be super-sweet. And if you’ve chosen red or purple carrots, you’ll practically have dessert on a plate, right there.