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The Black Carrot


black carrotsCultivated carrots originated in the Afghanistan region and were yellow and purple. From this center of domestication carrots were grown as a root crop to the East and West with the incorporation of several characteristics contrasting those two geographic regions. The Eastern carrot spread to central and north Asia and then to Japan. Red coloured carrot is typical for India and also was introduced to Japan. In contrast, Western carrot type is characterized initially by yellow and later by orange root colour. This carrot type spread to West and now dominates in Europe and America.

The carrot variety has high nutraceutical values and is rich in anthocyanins, phenols, flavonols ί-carotene, calcium, iron, and zinc. Its anti-oxidant activity is four times higher than red carrot. The fresh black carrots are suitable for salad, juice, pickle and kanji which are good appetizer, he added.

Carrot is rich in pro-healthy antioxidants both of lipophylic (carotenoids) and hydrophilic (phenolic compounds) characters. Although carotenoid content varies considerably among carrot genotypes, usually orange carrots contain high amounts of α- and β- carotene; yellow carrots contain lutein, the red color of carrots is due to lycopene, while polyphenol substances, mostly anthocyanins are typical for purple roots.

Genetecists have shown with genetical data that the cultivated carrot germplasm is subdivided between Eastern and Western carrots (Clotault et al. 2010). The black/purple carrots are clustered in the Eastern group, even if three individuals from Middle East show admixture between the two geographical groups. This suggests the black type has an oriental origin, and that gene flows between this type and European carrots may have arisen in Turkey/Syria. Carrots of Asian origin belonging to Eastern gene pool are more often purple or red and richer in phenolics and have higher antiradical activity than those from the Western gene pool with mainly orange roots.

The noble carrot has long been known as an orange vegetable. Generations of people in the West have grown up believing that carrots have always been orange. But long before the Orange carrot became established in the 16th century,  the black carrot (Daucus carota ssp. sativus var. atrorubens) existed across in Asia and the eastern Mediterranean.  Black carrots are still grown and consumed in Oriental countries such a Turkey, Afghanistan, Egypt, Pakistan India and the Far East.(carrot history here) (purple carrot page here)

 

black carrots switzerland

black carrots

Wild carrot has a small, tough pale fleshed bitter white root; modern domestic carrot has a swollen, juice sweet root, usually orange.   Carrots originated in present day Afghanistan about 5000 years ago, probably originally as a purple or yellow root. Nature then took a hand and produced mutants and natural hybrids, crossing both with cultivated and wild varieties. It is considered that purple carrots were then taken westwards where it is thought  yellow mutants and wild forms crossed to produce orange. Finally some motivated Dutch growers took these mutant orange carrots under their horticultural wings and developed them to be sweeter and more practical. Black carrots are more weather sensitive and it is suspected that they did not "travel" well to the colder parts of western Europe.  Even today growing black carrots in the West can be problematic and they often bolt in the first year, producing spindly roots and no, or weak flowers.

In the Roman period carrots were purple or white. By the 10th century purple carrots were grown in Afblack carrotsghanistan, Pakistan and northern Iran. Purple, white and yellow carrots were imported to southern Europe in the 14th century. Black, red and white carrots were also grown. Black Carrots contain anthocyanins, part of the flavonoid family with antioxidant properties. Flavonoids are currently under investigation as anticancer compounds, as free radical scavengers in living systems, as well as inhibitors of LDL (the bad) cholesterol and the black carrot anthocyanins are especially active.

It has anti-bacterial and anti-fungicidal properties and oil made from its seed can help control scalp itchiness and provides essential nutrients for hair growth. The ancient black carrot has been making a comeback, not so much for culinary purposes but as a source of natural food colorants. These originate from Turkey, and the Middle and Far East.

The anthocyanins in black carrot extract provide many health benefits, several from its antioxidant properties. Research in the March 2011 issue of the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry" notes a correlation between anthocyanins and the potential for treating neurological dysfunctions such as Alzheimer's disease. Anthocyanins may also be useful in cancer treatment -- evidence published in the May 2011 "Molecular Nutrition and Food Research" journal indicates that anthocyanins may counteract toxins that can damage healthy cells during chemotherapy.

Carotenoid Properties of Carrot Colors

Extract from Carotenoid Profiles and Consumer Sensory Evaluation of Speciality Carrots, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2004

J. Agric. Food Chem. 2004, 52, 3417-3421

Read more about all the other carrot colours here.


In 1623 the Arte de Cocina manuscript was written in Barcelona, Spain and included this early recipe for carrot salad. (Black ones preferred!)

Carrot Salad  - Spain 1623

Francisco Martinez Montino. His original manuscript dates from 1623.

Montino was a cook to 3 Kings -  Philip II, Philip III and Philip IV. The book gives an insight in royal banquets of the day with the description of elaborate recipes.

"The carrot for salad you should look for the black ones, wash them, and clean off the rootlets, and cut the point and the tops, and put them in a pot, and press them to the bottom so they are very tight, and place the pot n the coals and put fire all around, and above and roast them very well.

Then take out and clean off the skin so they become very delicate and season with salt and serve with oil, vinegar while hot. And if you want to add sugar, you can. The should be shallow. You should set these carrots where there are coals, and make little slices."

(Note the word “salad” merely means that this is a dish composed solely of vegetables, but not necessarily that it is cold).

Source - Cooking in Europe – 1250-1650 Ken Albala

 

Black Carrot Juice - Salgam Local Black Carrot Seeds from Turkey
Black carrots grow mostly in southern Europe and Asia, principally in Turkey and India. The pigments that give black carrots their characteristic colour are anthocyanins. These pigments exhibit a reversible change in molecular structure as the pH of solutions change from acidic to basic. This change in structure is characterized by a shift in hue from red to purple to blue as the pH changes from acidic to basic. Advantages: Anthocyanins from purple carrot are more stable over a wider pH range than anthocyanins from other fruit or vegetable sources, making them ideal for use in yogurts and other low pH dairy products.

Recommended applications: Flavouring, Energy Drinks, Spirits, Juice Drinks, Specialty Tea, Yogurt, Smoothies, Fruit Preparations, Salad Dressing, Breakfast Cereal, Confections, Dry Mixes.

Black carrot can be eaten raw and makes an ideal ingredient for fresh salad. Cut long pieces of black carrot, red carrot and radish. Chop tomatoes and boiled potato and mix in a bowl. Add salt, lemon juice and green chillies to taste.black carrots

Kanji and Salgam are popular drinks made from black carrots. (photos above) They are highly nutritious and have a high iron and vitamin content,. very good for the stomach. Regular intake gives a glow to the complexion.  Note - The ş in Turkish is sh; it is spelt şalgam it would phonetically be pronounced shalgum in English.

Kanji is very easy to prepare. Take five to six black carrots. Wash and clean them thoroughly. Then, chop them into pieces. Take three table spoons of rai powder, two tea spoons of salt and two tea spoons of ginger powder. Mix the contents and put into a large glass jar and pour six to seven glasses of water into it. Let it stand in sun for two days. Strain the contents and kanji is ready for consumption. In summer you can chill this delicious drink and serve with ice cubes. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and finely chopped ginger.

Gajar Kanji or carrot kanji is a traditional punjabi fermented drink that is made in the winters. black carrots appear in the winters in north india and these give the kanji its characteristic purple color. if you don’t have black carrots, then adding beetroot gives this rich dark purple colour. the kanji is made with simple ingredients – carrots, mustard powder, red chilli powder and black salt along with water.

The whole drink is kept in the sun and allowed to ferment in glass jars or ceramic jars for 3-4 days. it depends on how the sun is behaving in your region. it can be even kept for 4-5 days if the sunlight is not very strong. if its very hot, then 2 -3 days are also enough. The kanji drink is had as an appetizer. it has a sour, spicy, pungent taste; also it is an acquired taste…. either you will love the kanji or hate it.(the carrots and beetroot get pickled in the process of fermentation and can be served as side pickle with the simple dal-rice or indian main course. they have a lovely fermented flavour and taste.) FULL RECIPE HERE (pdf)

black carrots core root

black carrots


Black Carrot/Juice Concentrate Facts

1 - Black Carrot Juice Concentrate includes over 12 times more antioxidant in comparison with regular carrot concentrate.

2 - It is stable through change in temperature and pH.I t can be used as colour additive for various fruit products directly without any additional procedure.

3 - Black Carrot Juice Concentrate added to strawberry marmalades help to keep their natural color more steady.

4 -The Concentrate includes 40% more Beta carotene in comparison with regular carrots concentrate

5 - Black Carrot includes vitamin A and selenium and also it is • Good for eyes • Good for hair • Good for skin • Increases Sperm • Anti invective • Anti Cancer (Antioxidant) • Helps to stable blood stream

6 - Black carrot is used as a natural colour additive in food sector black carrots core root

7 - Black carrot in low pH applications it is a very strong alternative to Carmine colour

8 - Black carrot protects its red colour even in higher pH applications

9 - Black Carrot Juice Concentrate is appetising, good for digestion, includes vitamin B which is a tranquilizer,  Good for liver and stomach, includes calcium, potassium and iron which are good for bones and teeth, includes vitamin A-B-C which are good for the heart, eyes and blood vessels.

10. 100 g includes just 20 calories

11. Black carrot juice has 28 times in anthocyanin than a standard orange carrot

Black Carrot Juice is an excellent blood cleanser. It has a high content of iron and vitamin C. It improves eye sight and blood circulation. It cures constipation, stomach disorders and makes the skin healthy and glowing. Owing to its highly fibrous nature, it keeps the alimentary canal clean and regulated. It acts as a moistening agent and tones up the skin. It is good for treating acne and pigmentation.

Black Carrot Extract Color –

Extracts from black carrots are most often used as a natural food coloring. The extract's color is similar to that of grape skin extract -- red-blue or magenta. Food manufacturers may prefer black carrot extract to grape juice concentrate or grape skin extract because it is kosher and the color from black carrot extract retains its color better. The reddish color of black carrot extract is a natural alternative to synthetic food colorings such as FD&C Red 40, or a coloring made of insects, called carmine.

Unlike "normal" carrots, which owe their color to their Carotene content, Black Carrots contain Anthocyanin compounds (primarily Cyanidin glycosides) which, after extraction, exhibit desirable red shades similar to FD&C Red 40. More stable than other anthocyanins, Black Carrot Extrablack carrotsct Color is most stable and intense in the pH range of 3.0 to 5.0. This makes it ideal as a red coloring for water-based, low-pH systems such as beverages, sherbets, yogurts, candies and confections. Typical use levels are in the 0.01 – 0.50% range. Black Carrot Extract Color is available in both dry and liquid form.

Black Carrot Concentrate is a Natural Food Additive which enables pink to red - red to purple color shades according to pH of the added product.

As a natural colorant, Black Carrot Concentrate colour comes from its rich Anthocyanin content. This means that Black Carrot Concentrate is an additive that has a wide range of consumption applications including the following industry areas:

• Beverages Industry • Carbonated Drinks • Non-Carbonated Drinks • Alcoholic Drinks • Non-Alcoholic Drinks • Energy Drinks • Confectionery Industry • Candies • Chewing Gums • Dairy Industry • Milks • Yoghurts • Ice-creams • Food Industry • General Food • Meat products • Bakery • Fruit Fillings • Fruit Preparations • Pastry • Pharmaceutical Industry • General Drugs • General Cosmetics

Black Carrot Juice recipe

Ingredients: 8 Large Fresh Cleaned Black Carrots, 1 Fresh Cut Lemon Wedge

Information: Serving Size 1, 126 Calories Per Serving, 0 Grams Of Fat

Preparation Instructions:

This recipe is a bit off the beaten path, but definitely worth a try if you can get your hands on some healthy and flavonoid rich ripe black carrots. If you can't find them at your regular produce vendor then try a Middle Eastern or Turkish specialty shop. To begin this recipe you will first need to take out your juicer and plug it in. Give the juicer a quick once over to make sure it's clean and sterile. Next up thoroughly wash and rinse your black carrots under cold running tap water.

Depending on the size and processing strength of your juicer, you many need to quarter your carrots to prevent over stressing your machine. Moving forward, place a tall glass under the juice spout and begin feeding the carrots into the machine one by one. Depending on the moisture content of the carrots, you may need to adjust your carrot proportions accordingly. As an optional garnish add one freshly cut lemon wedge to your glass.

One glass per day is the recommended limit, consumed either during or after a meal. We hope you enjoyed this juice.


Seed Supplies

I have never found a source of black carrot seeds in the US, but you could try some of the seed exchange organisations.

This site at Territorial Seeds has some very dark purple.

You could also try Black Knight, which are available in the US (Amazon of all places!). Not a true black but more reliable and some of the darker ones which appear are almost black. I consider these to be true blacks in any case, because they have the white/purple core. Most ordinary purples (purple haze etc) are orange centred.

I have previously purchased Spanish Black carrot from Thomas Etty in the UK, and I know they post to US.

Seed listing - http://www.thomasetty.co.uk/seeds/veg-flower-2012.pdf

You could also try some of the seed suppliers listed at USDA here.

Please be aware the Spanish Black (and other darks) are VERY erratic and often do not germinate or if they do they bolt to flower in the first year, producing a spindly wild carrot-type root. Of course they originate from Turkey/Syria and therefore grow best in the environmental conditions found there. UK conditions are very similar to NYC and nothing like Turkey!


Ref material - Carotenoid biosynthesis genes provide evidence of geographical subdivision and extensive linkage disequilibrium in the carrot Jeremy Clotault • Emmanuel Geoffriau • Eric Lionneton • Mathilde Briard • Didier Peltier Received: 21 October 2009 / Accepted: 3 April 2010 / Published online: 22 April 2010  Springer-Verlag 2010 - Theor Appl Genet (2010) 121:659–672 DOI 10.1007/s00122-010-1338-1

Other Reference material here.

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