THE PURPLE CARROT
Once upon a time there were purple carrots, that were bright and strong, full of all manner of purple ness, until many years ago (17th century to be exact), a bunch of Dutch farmers for reasons prompted by fashion trends and politics, developed a new version of the humbler carrot. Unlike its former counterpart, this new carrot did not boast the deep spectacular purple hues once know to 17th century dinner tables, no, this carrot was orange, like the setting sun on a hot 17th century night.
Alright perhaps the evolution of the carrot was not that exciting, however the new varieties of carrots we have come to know today are the results of farmers developing the modern day orange carrot by crossing various cultivated and wild carrots.
While purple carrots provide many of the same health benefits as orange carrots they also offer some extraordinary nutritional benefits due to their high concentration of anthocyanins. For those who don't have a background in nutritional sciences, anthocyanins are flavonoid pigments that give many blue, purple, and black vegetables and berries their intense hues and strong health-boosting properties. Considering the significant amounts of anthocyanins in purple carrots, it is not surprising that purple carrot varieties, such as Purple Haze, have been shown to have stronger antioxidant activity than their yellow and orange counterparts.
So the main reason for this blog is that I have been looking at growing a few more heirloom varieties of vegetable this year and I think the purple carrot is a great place to start. I am also lucky enough to have two terrific green thumbed neighbours who are able to give me invaluable advice regarding the growing and harvesting of heirloom varieties.
And if you do grow or have access to some purple carrots this year, I strongly recommend you give this recipe ago.
HEIRLOOM CARROT CAKE
300 g (2 cups) plain all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bi-carb soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 – free range eggs
225 g caster sugar
300 ml sunflower oil or grapeseed
5 purple carrots, grated
150 g either walnuts or hazelnuts (plus extra for the top)
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line the base and grease the sides of a medium sized loaf tin. Sift your flour, baking powder, bi-carb, cinnamon and salt into a nice big bowl.
2. Using an electric beater, beat your eggs and sugar together until they become thick and creamy with a pale colour. Slowly add in your oil until it is well incorporated into the egg and sugar mixture.
3. Using a spatula or flat wooden spoon, mix in your grated carrots, then add your flour mixture. Mix until well combined, but don’t over mix. Pour the batter into your loaf tin and sprinkle over some extra nuts. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.