Most people have eaten orange carrots at some point in their lives. Others may have tried purple or red ones… but white? Why are some carrots white? Are they actually parsnips? No, darlings, they are not. Read on to find out the how and why.
Why are Some Carrots White While Others are Rainbow Hued?
For the same reason why there are paler versions of several other vegetable varieties. Remember how all different plant colors are determined by their respective compounds. Orange carrots are packed with carotene, while red ones are full of lycopene. Fruits and vegetables that are purple or blue have high anthocyanin levels, while yellow ones contain lutein.
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White carrots have no such pigments. They basically have albinism, which happens in pretty much every species on the planet.
Despite not having the color compounds listed above, these pale roots are still packed with antioxidants, and a slew of beneficial nutrients. They’re high in fiber, can help prevent heart attacks, strokes, and various types of cancer, and can keep your blood sugar at a healthy level.
Their lack of color doesn’t mean they lack flavor either! They may not taste as strong as other varieties, but they’re still delicious.
No Carotene = Milder Taste, Fewer Allergies
Since white carrots have such a mild flavor, they blend beautifully in different vegetable juices. They still taste like regular carrots, only more subtle. Try juicing them and mixing them into your next juice blend. You can even use them in smoothies as a carrier or gentle flavoring agent.
Their lack of pigment also make them ideal for roasting. Purple and red carrots will bleed pigment into anything you roast them with. This can make you end up with weirdly pink cannellini beans, purple risotto, you name it. If you feel like getting creative, roast both white carrots and parsnips with garlic, good salt, and summer savory. Then puree them into soup with some onion stock. This creates a beautiful, creamy white soup with a spicy-sweet flavor.
Additionally, did you know that some people are allergic to orange foods? This is because they react badly to both alpha- and beta-carotene, which is what gives orange and red vegetables their distinctive hues.
Since white carrots don’t contain carotene, people who are allergic to that pigment won’t react to them! This means that allergy-sensitive carrot lovers can use white carrot sticks to scoop up their favorite dips to their hearts’ content.
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Additionally, These Carrots Won’t Turn You Orange
Foods that are high in carotene have an interesting side effect: they can turn you orange. Babies that are fed a lot of carrots and sweet potatoes often end up with orange noses and/or chins because of the pigment’s accumulation in these areas. Because of this possible pigmentation, carrot-based baby food will usually use white (or extremely light yellow) carrots instead. They still taste like regular carrots, and have oodles of good nutrients in them, but won’t turn your kid into an Oompa Loompa.
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If you’re a huge fan of carrot juice but you don’t want to look like you’ve been spray-tanned, choose white carrots instead. You’ll be able to enjoy all their benefits without random people asking if you’re unwell.
White Film on Carrots?
Of course, the carrots mentioned above are those that are naturally white. It’s a completely different story when a thin white film develops on the outside of white carrots.
This is usually a solid indication that your carrots are dehydrated. This effect is also known as “white blush”. Carrots are normally super juicy, so as soon as water starts to evaporate out of them, they go white and pasty on the outside. Fortunately, you can perk them back up again by immersing them in water! Their layers are quite permeable, so they’ll soak up water, firm back up again, and shed that white coat.
If it sticks around stubbornly, just use a vegetable brush to scrub it off under running water.
Definitely try roots of various hues to figure out which you like best. You might discover that you love certain colors and their flavors more than you’d anticipated! Try them raw, cooked, juiced, spiralized… get creative!