Popular Ontario varieties include Caropak, Cellobunch, Chancellor, Six-Pak, Avenger, Apache, and Caro-chief.
Low in calories, carrots are an excellent source of beta carotene, converted in the body to Vitamin A and a source of folacin and fibre.
One raw 7 1/2 in. (19 cm) carrot contains 31 calories, 7 g carbohydrates, 2025 RE Vitamin A and 2.2 g fibre.
One of the very early foods, this edible root is native to the part of Asia we now know as Afghanistan.
The carrot was probably being cultivated, as well as being harvested wild, before the time of Christ. In its wild state, it's known as Queen Anne's Lace.
Buying and storing
Look for firm, crisp carrots with a smooth, blemish-free exterior. Be wary of deep green "shoulders" just below the top which may indicate bitterness. Oversized carrots may have tough centres.
For fresh bunched carrots, immediately remove the leafy green tops. (They draw off moisture and vitamins from the edible root, and can cause wilting and toughening.) Store in plastic for up to three weeks in refrigerator crisper.
You can buy topped Ontario carrots year-round, packed in clear plastic bags. Store, in original packaging, as you would bunching carrots.
For longer storage, keep carrots cool and moist in a root cellar or similar cool place.
Because of the many nutrients just below the carrot's surface, it's better to rinse and scrub with a vegetable brush or scrape lightly rather than peel the skin.
To keep carrots firm and crisp for serving raw, cut into strips and place in cold water with a slice of onion for half an hour.
Grated, sliced, julienned or left whole, the carrot lends itself to a wide range of salads, soups, casseroles, stews and even sweets. On their own, they can be steamed or broiled, served with butter, stir-fried or pan-roasted with meats and poultry.
In addition, there are many other interesting ways to enjoy this delicious vegetable. France contributes recipes for rich puréed cream of carrot soup and crisp salads of grated carrot dressed with mustard vinaigrette.
Carrots accompany beef, prunes and a dash of honey in the rich Jewish holiday casserole known as tzimmes. The Irish turn carrots into a rich steamed pudding and in India it's made into delicious fudge-like halvah.
In North America they're a key ingredient in carrot cake, topped with cream cheese icing.