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Taste Testing Carrots

January 6th, 2011

On Tuesday, Mr Chiots and I tried one of each of those carrots that I harvested on Monday. It was very interesting to be able to try so many different kinds at once. The only problem was that it was difficult to tell which was which on some of them, some of my labels had disappeared from the garden, and we didn’t keep them all separate at harvest. So I was going on shape and size based on the description on the seed packets. *note to self* I must find a better labeling pen

The ‘Muscade’ carrots were probably the best when it came to size of carrots and uniformity, they did very well. They’re a shorter fatter carrot, which are the kinds I like. The ‘Atomic Purple’ did well for size also as did one one yellow variety. The best tasting ones were probably the ‘Napli’ I grew (these are the variety Eliot Coleman calls “sugar carrots”). If you like those little baby carrots from the store you’ll love ‘Short n Sweet’ as they taste exactly the same, they’re small, sweet and very crunchy and had a great texture. The ‘Little Finger’ carrots also were great, nice and orange and with great texture.

The white ones we didn’t like much at all, and one of the yellow varieties didn’t do so well in the cold weather as the texture was off. I grew both ‘Yellowstone’ and ‘Amarillo Yellow’, I’m not sure which was which at harvest. I won’t give them the thumbs down because they might be very delicious if grown and harvested in warmer weather. I have a few seeds left so they’ll be sown this spring and we’ll test again then. I also wasn’t super impressed with ‘Chantenay Red Core’ the carrots didn’t size up as well as the other varieties and they were more difficult to peel because they were highly textured on the outside. Perhaps these are also more of a warm weather carrot.

I still have seeds left for most of these varieties so I’ll grow them again and keep better track and do a better break down for you in 6 months or so. For my fall planting I’ll definitely narrow it down to 2-3 varieties. I think trying new carrots is more for the spring/summer growing season.

Have you found a type of carrot that works well in your climate/soil/garden? Do any of you have a great labeling pen you’d like to recommend that will go the distance in the harsh weather?

30 Comments to “Taste Testing Carrots”
  1. Sense of Home on January 6, 2011 at 10:07 am

    I haven’t tested many carrot varieties, nor do I have a good labeling pen, but I was interested in your results. I found it interesting that the purple carrot is yellow inside.


    Reply to Sense of Home's comment

  2. Emily Jenkins on January 6, 2011 at 11:21 am

    I’m curious. What didn’t you like about the white variety? I grew a mix of carrots last year and found that if I harvested the white carrots a bit early (similar to what you showed in your pictures) they were very sweet, albeit a bit woody. I’m considering them again this year but was wondering if you know which variety you chose and why you weren’t impressed.

    Also, were the atomic red and cosmic purples very different in color/texture/taste? I’m considering those as well, but if they’re similar I may just choose one variety.

    Thanks for sharing such an excellent run down of your carrot trials! I’m “wish-listing” over at Baker Creek’s web site today to prepare for the big 2011 order and it’s been such a help to have your input.

    Reply to Emily Jenkins's comment

    • Susy on January 6, 2011 at 1:27 pm

      The white carrots didn’t size up very well, they were very skinny, they were also kind of woody and didn’t seem to have a great carrot flavor. I’m more of a fan of chunky carrots and would prefer growing a variety that sizes up well and tastes great. I’ll probably try them again in the spring though since I have some seed left and see what happens with the spring crop.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  3. Morgan G on January 6, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Wow, Susy! They’re all gorgeous. We prefer Little Finger here. Just like you, we love the texture. Sounds like we should try the Napli!

    Reply to Morgan G's comment

  4. annie on January 6, 2011 at 11:58 am

    I use either a black sharpie (the other colors fade) or an alcohol ink garden marking pen on giant popsicle sticks. We don’t have super harsh weather like you do and sometimes I lose the popsicle sticks when I leave them near the base of the plant. I’ve started putting the sticks in near the edge of the bed so I can find them.

    Reply to annie's comment

    • Susy on January 6, 2011 at 1:24 pm

      That’s what I use as well. I have found that if I use some linseed oil on the sticks first they last a little longer, but they do start to fade after a while. I’m considering making some nice cedar ones and using a grease pencil.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Seren Dippity on January 7, 2011 at 1:26 pm

        I finally resorted to plastic. I write on them in pencil and they stay legible all summer. I collected them all as I pulled up the plants after harvesting to reuse. A little soap and water scrub and they seem ready to go again. Sharpies fade VERY fast. Every wood label I used started rotting before the season was up but it didn’t matter because the words had already faded. For some things that are either perennial plantings or consistent repeats, I have used a sharpie paint pen and written in calligraphy the name and planting date on a decorative rock. Fuji Apple Tree planted 2008 for example. Even those are starting to show some fading and wear. I’m still looking for a good solution too.

        to Seren Dippity's comment

  5. MAYBELLINE on January 6, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Currently, I’m growing Atomic Red and Cosmic Purple. They are doing great. Did you know that my area (Bakersfield, CA) is home to two of the nation’s largest carrot producers? Carrots seem to grow well here – especially in the sandier soils.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  6. Amy @ Homestead Revival on January 6, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    I haven’t tried it yet, but I had highlighted this pen to order from Johnny’s Select Seeds 2011 catalog, page 187, bottom right, item #9350 – Weatherproof Marking Pen… says “excellent fade and weather resistance in our trials”. Plus it’s earth friendly.

    Despite the fact that Grimmway farms literally grows thousands of carrots (you know, all those “bunny luv” things in all the grocery stores) just about 5 miles away from my house, I have ZERO success growing carrots. Do you have a post on growing them or will you be writing one? I could use some help. I think I need to add some sand to my soil…

    Reply to Amy @ Homestead Revival's comment

    • Susy on January 6, 2011 at 1:24 pm

      I remember seeing that pen, I’ll have to add it to my Johnny’s list. I was considering a grease pencil as well. Right now I’m using a sharpie with big popsicle sticks. They do OK for a couple months, but start to fade, especially with inclement weather! I’ll have to do a post about carrots, it probably is the soil There are varieties that do OK in heavy soils though, so you might have better luck with those.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Amy @ Homestead Revival on January 6, 2011 at 1:46 pm

        Yeah, the sharpie always washes off after a while. I’m hoping this one will last.

        I hadn’t thought about the fact that the variety might need to be different. I’ll keep that in mind when ordering this year. Thanks!

        to Amy @ Homestead Revival's comment

  7. Jackie on January 6, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Thanks for the carrot comparison! I always label with pencil…it seems to work well.

    Reply to Jackie's comment

  8. Wendy on January 6, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    I have had horrible luck with carrots, but I’ll be trying them again this year!

    Reply to Wendy's comment

  9. Allison on January 6, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Thanks for your suggestions. I’ve had a difficult time with carrots. I’ve heard about putting a board over them to help them germinate. Have you done anything special?

    Reply to Allison's comment

    • Susy on January 6, 2011 at 9:15 pm

      Yes I cover mine with burlap to help keep the soil moist since carrots like moist conditions. I check every day (after 5 days or so) and when I see the first signs of germination I take the burlap off and water lightly twice daily if needed to keep the soil from drying out. This has worked beautifully for me.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Allison on January 8, 2011 at 7:43 pm


        to Allison's comment

  10. Rick on January 6, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    We love little fingers, we have fairly heavy soil and little finger seems to be variety that grows best. Usually they get no more that 4 inches long and that seems to be the right size for our soil. They also make a really good winter carrot, they seem to size up quicker than some other varieties and then they spend the cold winter months getting sweeter and sweeter!!!

    Reply to Rick's comment

    • Susy on January 6, 2011 at 11:01 pm

      Thanks for the great info on the ‘Little Finger’ carrots, it’s always great to hear from other gardeners about specific varieties. I’ll have to try growing these in my little garden, they should do well in our heavy soil.

      Perhaps the voles were loving these little sweeties in the garden before we dug them, I spotted some half gnawed on little fingers.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  11. Vegetable Garden Cook on January 6, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Interesting! I think it would also be interesting to do a taste test of them cooked versus raw. Evidently there are two main types of carrots–ones that are best eaten raw and others that are best eaten cooked. Some have significantly higher starch content (like a russet potato) that tastes best when cooked, but doesn’t taste much like anything when raw. But the starchier varieties turn that velvety smooth texture when you cook them, which I like best in my stews and such.

    I am also going to be trying out a regular old grease pen (AKA wax pencil) this year on my seed tags.

    Reply to Vegetable Garden Cook's comment

    • Susy on January 7, 2011 at 1:34 pm

      We cooked some of each of these with a roast and they were all quite good. Since they were cooked for so long and with onions, Guinness, potatoes, garlic & venison I’m sure it would have worked for a taste test. Perhaps I’ll do a steaming taste test to check texture & taste after cooking.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  12. Dan on January 6, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    I like Purple Dragon carrots. They always perform well from a spring & late summer planting. They taste really good too. The Napli ones sound good, I’ll have to look for them.

    Reply to Dan's comment

  13. bonnie on January 7, 2011 at 2:02 am

    Don’t worry about the pen; plant the varieties in alphabetical order.

    Reply to bonnie's comment

  14. Sincerely, Emily on January 7, 2011 at 2:56 am

    Great information on carrots. Thanks. I have Danvers on my list of seeds to order. Descriptions says it is better for clay and heavy soils.

    Reply to Sincerely, Emily's comment

  15. alecia on January 7, 2011 at 10:03 am

    enjoyed reading your results- i am no help with marking – use same method you do.

    most farmers i talked to around here raise- short n sweet, little finger and paris market/parisienne. I would like to try napoli and some color variations

    Reply to alecia's comment

  16. Kelly (The Sorry Gardener) on January 7, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    I had good luck with my atomic purples last year and have been trying to decide what other varieties to try. Thanks for the suggestions.

    By the way, I am going into withdrawal for your sourdough bread. Just when I got the hang of making it, I hurt my elbow and can’t kneed for a while. Big bummer.

    Reply to Kelly (The Sorry Gardener)'s comment

  17. sallymander on January 10, 2011 at 12:30 am

    a friend that works at an iris farm uses wooden stakes painted with exterior house paint, and then marked with black alcohol based paint pens. The stakes last about 2-3 years, sometimes longer…the writing does fade, but it’s still legible. He’s considered swiping over the writing with some exterior poly, like Thompson’s water seal, but that might be overkill for you. I think the size of the stakes makes a big difference on how long they will last. The iris farm uses wood lath, cut to 14″-ish.

    Thanks for the carrot review. I, too would like some instruction, being a novice veggie gardener. Root crops are a bit daunting to me.

    P.S. It would be so handy if all the garden bloggers out there would put their zone in their right column as a quick reference to those of us that hoard gardening blogs…what zone are you in?

    Reply to sallymander's comment

    • Susy on January 10, 2011 at 8:44 am

      I’m zone 5, I think I have it in my about me section, but that’s a great idea. I’ll have to see where I can add that in my blog redesign I’m working on.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • sallymander on January 10, 2011 at 2:02 pm

        yay! You’re in my zone! I didn’t check your about me….that would have been smart ;)

        to sallymander's comment

  18. Corrie on March 18, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    I agree about the “Little Finger” carrots; in my heavy clay soil these and any of the Chantenay types are my best germinators. I don’t cover them at all, but if we get a pounding rain and a crust forms as the soil dries, I go down the row and break up the crust by tapping gently with a rake. I planted “Danvers” once and they grew okay, but I found them very bland tasting and quite woody in texture; none of that bright crispness that I like in a good carrot. Chantenay also stores very well for me, without any metallic taste like some carrots seem to develop in storage.

    Reply to Corrie's comment

  19. Richard Daly on November 23, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    I get my gardening pens at I’ve used them for years in the Florida sunshine, and the labels don’t fade away.

    Nice blog, keep gardening and growing.

    Reply to Richard Daly's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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