History of the Carrot Part Five
Science & Enlightenment
- 1700 to 1900
Chapters in the history rooms:
Chapters in the history rooms:
By the 1700's Holland was the leading country
in carrot breeding and today's "modern" orange version is directly descended
from the Dutch-bred carrots of this time.. At the time four main orange varieties existed - Early
Half Long, Late Half Long, Scarlet Horn and Long Orange. All modern Hybrids
are derived from these four strains. It was attractive enough to figure in
several Dutch masters paintings. See the Art page
for some truly great works of art featuring carrots. Many cookbooks prior to the
1850s attempted to merge medicine with cookery. As a result, many dangerous,
even deadly, "cure-alls" are given, reflecting the primitive medical knowledge
of that era.
In this period many new ways had been gradually found of utilising the materials for food, and vegetables were growing more plentiful. The carrot was predominantly used in soups, puddings, and tarts.
The Cooks and Confectioners Dictionary; Or, The Accomplish'd Housewife's Companion (1723) by John Nott was a very early reference to recipes with carrots as the main ingredient. (below)
In Batty Langley's New Principles of Gardening (1728) he describes the three primary varieties of carrots - Yellow (or Orange), Red and Wild as follows:
1735 Botanalogica Universalis Hibernica written by John K’Eogh, Chaplain to Lord Kingston - "An account of Herbs, Shrubs and Trees and their medicinal qualities and virtues" gave these uses for carrot and its wild form:
In 1736 E. Smith's wrote "Compleat Housewife," and included this delicious and unusual recipe -
In 1740 a recipe for Carrot Pudding appeared - "Receipts (recipes) of Pastry and Cookery For the Use of his Scholars. By Ed. Kidder (1720-1740)" read more on carrot puddings here.
Also in 1740 there was also published (right) - "A most excellent cure for the stone and gravel" by Joanna Stephens - pills containing Wild Carrot seeds. (Gravel = Sandlike concretions of uric acid, calcium oxalate, and mineral salts formed in the passages of the biliary and urinary tracts.) Source US National Library of Medicine, Digital Collections).
By 1749 it appears that England was exporting carrots, via the Dutch East India Company. The ship "Amsterdam", built in 1748 in Amsterdam, was lost during her maiden voyage, outward bound for Batavia, the modern Djakarta, in January 1749 near the little town of Hastings on the south coast of England. The excavations of the wreck form part of an integrated historical and archaeological programme to create relevant historical models for understanding the ship and its contents. Among the different kinds of vegetable remains, such as the seeds of spinach, carrot, wild radish, beet, purslane, black mustard and coriander. In addition to rice, wheat and other cereals, seeds and pips of fruits like figs and blackberries were found. (Source - East Indiaman Amsterdam research 1984-1986 J Gawronski - ANTIQUITY 64 (1990): 363-75)
John Wesley,MA 1747 wrote "A Primitive Physic, an easy and natural method of curing most diseases", this included carrots in several "cures" -
A cancer in the breast - 112. A Poultice of wild Parsnips or scraped Carrots, Flowers, Leaves and Stalks, changing it Morning and evening.
For Putrid wounds 822. “Apply a carrot poultice.”
(A Cancer was described as a hard, round, uneven, painful swelling, of a blackish or leaden Colour, the Veins round which seem ready to burst. It comes commonly with a Swelling about as big as a Pea, which does not at first give much Pain, nor change the colour of the Skin.)
1747 Prussian chemist Andreas Sigismund Marggraf, 38, discovered that beets and carrots contain small amounts of sugar.
1747 The New English Dispensary indicates - Various species all used in medicine -Wild Carrot seed infused in ale is an esteemed diuretic, and excellent to prevent the stone and alleviate its more violent fits. It also expels gravel and provokes urine and the menses. Domestic carrot has dark red roots. the roots are frequently used in food though they are flatulent. They are thought to render the body soluble and contribute to the cure of the cough. A dram of seeds of white carrot reduced to a powder are exhibited in Baum water as a specific against hysteric fits. (Extract here)
1751 John Hill wrote "A History of Materia Medica, containing descriptions of all the substances used in medicine" in which in chapter 23 he commented (full extract here, pdf)
"There are two kinds of daucus seeds kept in the shops, daucus creticus and daucus vulgaris. Creticus was found to breed insects and therefore had no virtue. It principally came from Germany or the Levant (eastern Mediterranean - specifically Anatolia). Creticus was described as having a long root, the thickness of a mans finger. Vulgaris was called the common or wild carrot with a short and broad root, terminating obtusely at the end. It's colour was dark brown and tasted similar to Cretan carrot but weaker and fainter. The seeds of both plants have similar virtues described as being powerful diuretics as well as good carminatives and uterines. The Cretic kind is one of the four lesser hot seeds in the shops and enters into some officinal compositions."
(Cretan carrot seeds were used in ancient recipes for universal panacea drugs such as " Theriac or theriaca " which was a medical concoction originally formulated by the Greeks in the 1st century AD)
1751 Thomas Short, MD of Sheffield (UK) wrote an account of the nature, virtues and uses of physical pants found in Great Britain, commonly called "Medicina Britannica". He gave several references to the use of wild carrot seeds in several concoctions, including an antidote to poisons. (218, above right)
1755 - John Hill wrote "The Useful Family Herbal - an account of those English plants which are remarkable for their virtues" and included this passage about carrots (note the spelling with a single "r")
In January 1766 a Mr. Young, in his treatise upon the management of hogs, was of opinion that "boiled carrots are the best food for fattening that useful animal. He prefers them to pollard, white pease, buck wheat, or potatoes". (Reported in a collection of Georgical essay, published in 1802 - archive.org here
The therapeutic use of seeds occurred again in 1772 when Nicholas Robinson, MD Royal College of Physicians, wrote his complete "Treatise of Stones, Gravel and all other sabulous secretions wherein are discovered the Great virtues of Burdoc and Wild Carrot Seeds." This work recommends "a tea made with wild carrot seeds sweetened with Lisbon sugar, and to drink half a pint at night and morning and in 3 days the pain is greatly relieved and in 5 days gone altogether. This "remedy" is a diuretic (which carrot seeds are) cause greater discharge of gravel from the kidneys and bladder than naturally would discharge from these organs." (source Wellcome Library Medical Tracts 321).
(Lisbon sugar - An alternative name for CLAYED SUGAR. This was made from MUSCOVADO in a SUGAR POT called by the French a 'forme' in which the sugar was first cooled with the bottom hole plugged, The MOLASSES were then drained before a layer of wet clay was placed on top. From it water and clay oused through the sugar taking with it the last remnants of molasses [Rees (1819-20, 1972 ed.)], though possibly leaving traces of clay in the sugar itself.)
We also know that the carrot root crop was adopted by Native Americans, because it was listed among the Native American stores of crops destroyed by General John Sullivan's army in 1779 during their forays of Indian territory. (USA history, read more here) The expedition of General Sullivan against the Six Nations (Iroquois) in the Genesee county, upper New York State, ascertained that local Indians had fields of corn, and gardens of beans, peas, turnips, cabbages, melons, carrots, parsnips and potatoes. (Hales History of Agriculture by Dates, 1915)
The story is told that children of the Flathead tribe in Oregon liked carrots so well that they could not resist stealing them from the fields, although they resisted stealing other things.
Find out more about John Sullivan (1740-1795) by clicking the picture.
Thomas Jefferson (3rd President of the Unites States) raised several types of carrots in his Monticello garden. In 1814 he produced 18 bushels of carrots.. Thomas Jefferson wrote that "the greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add a useful plant to its culture."
The gardens at Monticello were a botanic garden, an experimental laboratory of ornamental and useful plants from around the world. At Monticello, Jefferson cultivated over 250 vegetable varieties in his 1000-foot-long garden terrace and 170 fruit varieties in the eight-acre fruit garden, designed romantic grottos, garden temples, and ornamental groves, and took visitors on rambling surveys of his favourite "pet trees." Jefferson was crazy about gardening. See Jefferson's handwritten note here about how he underestimated the amount of carrots he needed.
An interesting letter from George Divers to Thomas Jefferson in 1809 gives an idea of one man's preferences for several of the root crops. "I sow 200 feet each of parsnip and beet. 320 feet each salsafy and carrots…which is a very ample provision for my table and indeed, more than sufficient." Jefferson's Garden Book (first citation) shows:- Carrots (1774), Early Carrot (1812), Large Carrot (1812), Orange Carrot (1809), Yellow Carrot (1811).
He also said "I have lived temperately, eating little animal
food, and that not as an aliment, so much as a condiment for the vegetables
which constitute my principal diet." (TJ to Dr. Vine Utley, 21 March 1819)
When the British Navy blockaded West Indian sugar from entering Europe in the 18th century, chemists made sugar from organic carrots, sugar is still extracted from beets (incidentally, rabbits much prefer beets to carrots).
In the long history of plant science, no name is more famous than that of Linnaeus and no book is more highly regarded than his "Species Plantarum," published in 1753, the starting-point for the Latin binomial, or two-word, names of plants. These are recognized in all countries, and so enable positive identification of a plant species anywhere, regardless of innumerable vernacular names.
Theophrastus, the father of botany used binomials even in the 4th century B.C., but it was Linnaeus who systematized them and made them into a workable code of nomenclature, distinguishing for the first time between species and varieties, and making the species the unit of classification. He recognised Daucus Pastinaca in the first edition.
The Compleat Book of Husbandry, Volume three by Thomas Hale, 1758, which "contained rules for the whole business of farmer in cultivating, planting and stocking of land":
"There is a variety of colour in the roots of the carrot, the gardeners have hence made what they call three principal kinds: These they call, 1. The dark red carrot. 2. The orange carrot. And 3. the white carrot. The first and last of these terms are somewhat improper, the first kind being only a very deep orange, and the other a very pale yellow. The first is most esteemed. The white kind is more common in France and Italy than here; and is the sweetest and finest flavoured of them all. The farmer is to cultivate not that which is best, but what people think so; and therefore he is to chuse the deep red, commonly called the Sandwich carrot."
A British army manual written in 1798 sang the praises of soup for weary troops. Nothing is so agreeable and at the same time so wholesome to a soldier, after a fatiguing and perhaps wet march, as some warm soup. The use of broth or soup is particularly advantageous after great fatigue, because, on these occasions, the digestive organs are weakened and less liable to bear solid food than at other times. That manual went on to enumerate the items usually available for the army mess’s soup kettle. Among these were cabbage, carrots, parsnips, onion, and potatoes. (The Soldiers Friend 1798)
John Wesley gave to the world in 1769 an admirable little treatise on Primitive Physic, or an Easy and Natural Method for Curing most Diseases; the medicines on which he chiefly relied being our native plants. For asthma, he advised the sufferer to "live a fortnight on boiled Carrots only"; for "baldness, to wash the head with a decoction of Boxwood"; for "blood-spitting to drink the juice of Nettles".
On the 28th of November, 1771, British explorer Captain James Cook was appointed to the command of the Resolution in which he made his second voyage of discovery to the south Pacific
On 17 January 1773, Resolution was the first ship to cross the Antarctic Circle. Captain Cook's own account of the voyage includes a section on the provisions he took for the voyage:-
In 1773, Captain Cook and navigator Tobias Furneaux planted a
number of gardens in Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand, with plants such as
potatoes, carrots, parsnips, cabbages, onions, leeks, parsley, radish, mustard,
broad beans, kidney beans, peas, turnips and wheat. That same year, south of
Cape Kidnappers, Cook gave the Māori chief Tuanui roots and seeds, including
wheat, beans, peas, cabbages, turnips, onions, carrots, parsnips and yams.
When Europeans arrived, Māori replaced their traditional crops with those
brought by Europeans. Their main crop was soon potatoes, which provided a
heavier and more reliable food source than kūmara, and could be grown
throughout the country. Corn, cabbages, tobacco, carrots, turnips, squash,
swedes and new varieties of kūmara were also added to Māori gardens.
|By the start of the 19th century vegetable growing had
become a highly profitable enterprise for some coastal tribes who sold
or traded their vegetables with whalers, sealers and the first European
Although Māori adopted the new crops they did not adopt all European horticultural practices. Māori were reluctant to use hoes and spades, preferring their traditional tools. They also refrained from fertilising their crops with animal manure, instead continuing to clear new sites when the fertility of their gardens dropped.
On 13 May 1787 it was recorded that a total of 66 bushels of seed was loaded aboard HMS Sirius, Supply and Golden Grove, part of the fleet of eleven ships which left Portsmouth, England for Australia. Gidley King's gang of convict gardeners sowed carrot seed at Norfolk Island on 17 March 1788, just two weeks after their arrival. It noted that the seedlings had sprouted by 21 March (probably not correct!). More carrots, from "English Seeds" were sown on 7 July and the mature roots were gathered in October.
In November 1788 recorded in the transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (second volume, part 1) was a report on the distillation of spirits from carrots Mr Hornby and Dr Hutton, conducted in 17 May 1788. Mr Thomas Hornby, druggist from York described the process for producing an ardent spirit from carrots. The experiment concluded that 200 tons of carrots would produce 200 gallons of proof spirit.
This proved to be more expensive than creating spirit from grain (malt, wheat and rye) but the resulting “refuse” could compensate for that cost through its sale for animal feed. It also concluded that the corn could then be better used for other purposes “an object worthy of attention and encouragement”. (see full account in an extract from Royal Society papers here - pdf). This proposition was again repeated in 1803, attempting to make an ale see below.
In 1788 The Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy, written by Mrs Hannah Glasse gave advice of how to dress carrots. By far the most well known of the 18th century cookbook authors, became the cookbook to have if you lived in Britain at the time. Carrot Pudding is here.
A manuscript of recipes originated in England, between 1765 and 1830. (UPenn Ms. Codex 1038) Summary: Collection of recipes for desserts, meats, preserves, "soops," and condiments, including Indian-influenced dishes such as curry and pickles.
It included this unusual recipe for Carrot Puff
First records in Australia show it arrived in 1788 with the First Fleet and convicts planted 'Long Orange' carrots on Norfolk Island just two weeks after their arrival and gathered in their first harvest in October of that year. Along with the cabbage, it became an important food for the colonists.
Visit the Australia page here for more information. (opens in new window)
1789 - "Hortus Kewensis", a catalogue of plants cultivated in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, London, compiled by William Aiton, Gardener to His Majesty George lll records yellow and red garden carrot, natives of England.
In 1791 William Lewis produced An Experimental History of the Materia Medica giving an account of the pharmaceutical properties and medicinal powers of plants. The book promoted the use of carrots as a diuretic, for the relief of stranguary (difficulty or pain in urinating). It indicated that wild carrots gave a stronger effect. It also recommends a poultice of garden carrot root to treat skin ulcers. He concludes by saying the "A marmalade of carrots has also been proposed as an addition to the stock of ships provisions, for preventing scurvy."
In 1793 the Catalogue of Flower Roots & Seeds of J Mason At the Orange Tree, 152 Fleet Street London listed Early Horn and Long Orange (Sandwich) carrot seeds.
1793 - Apiaceae - Daucus carota.(below left)
From: Flora rustica: exhibiting accurate figures of such plants as
are either useful or injurious in husbandry by Thomas Martyn.
1796 - American Cookery The Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry, and Vegetables by Amelia Simmons - the first known American cookbook -
"Carrots are managed as it respects plowing and rich ground, similarly to Parsnips. The yellow are better than the orange or red; middling fiz'd, that is, a foot long and two inches thick at the top end, are better than over grown ones; they are cultivated best with onions, sowed very thin, and mixed with other seeds, while young or six weeks after sown, especially if with onions on true onion ground. They are good with veal cookery, rich in soups, excellent with hash, in May and June.
A coffee cup full of boiled and strained carrots, 5 eggs, 2 ounces sugar and butter each, cinnamon and rose water to your taste, baked in a deep dish without paste, 1hour."
The Soldier’s Friend, 1798, .A British army manual sang the praises of soup for weary troops.
"Nothing is so agreeable and at the same time so wholesome to a soldier, after a fatiguing and perhaps wet march, as some warm soup. The use of broth or soup is particularly advantageous after great fatigue, because, on these occasions, the digestive organs are weakened and less liable to bear solid food than at other times."
The manual went on to enumerate the items usually available for the army mess’s soup kettle. Among these were cabbage, carrots, parsnips, onion, and potatoes.
Deutschlands Flora in Abbildungen, Jacob Sturm und Johann Georg Sturm (1796) (above right)
By the 1800's horticultural growers were producing roots of a colossal size. Some were two feet in length with a girth of twelve inches and weighing four pounds each. Carrots were widely cultivated in the walled gardens of country estates. Growers were continually experimenting with strains to create the perfect "show roots". Come the 19th century, carrots were widely grown and began their descent into the ordinary alongside onions and potatoes. This certainly was not a bad thing, as obviously some foodstuffs have to take the role as workhorse recipe ingredients. And carrots certainly do it well, whether it's the leading taste in a soup, cake or refreshing drink, or bit-player in stock, salad or stew.
In 1803 Dr A Hunter wrote numerous essays in the series "Georgical Essays" detailing his experiments on the planting of carrots, their yield and uses on the farm. He also detailed an experiment to make a useful alcoholic spirit from carrots. (full text available from Archive.org here)
In 1806 William Mason contributed a 12 page report entitled "Experiments on the Culture of Carrots", to Nicholson's journal - Journal of Natural Philosophy, Chemistry and the Arts. "The purport of this communication is to explain, with a degree of accuracy, the best method to produce carrots. In Suffolk, the culture of this highly valuable root has been carried on for ages. Various attempts have been made to extend the benefit more generally throughout the kingdom, but with little success." The man them of the document is to explain in minute detail how carrots can be grown anywhere in the country and goes on to describe ideal environmental, propagation and maintenance conditions to guarantee a good crop. "The season for sowing is middle of March to 12 April; the proper hoe should four inches by and one half inch and kept sharp."
Having explained in some considerable details (though he describes it as concise!) the document then moves on to describe the use and application of carrots once cultivated. Overgrown and crooked carrots are extracted before the rest go off to market, the former are retained for home consumption "for which they will answer vas well as the others". The ones retained were recommended as an extremely valuable feed to cart horses and other cattle, but not riding horses "nimble exercise causes them to be laxative and produce griping." It is interesting that even at this early stage the market preferred straight carrots
In 1808 the following recipe appeared in "Domestic Cookery" by Maria Rundell. It
is interesting that she talks about the red part of the carrots and not the
In 1811 Frenchman, Nicholas Appert introduced the art of preserving and described means of preserving carrots in glass jars. Either simply scalded and half boiled in water with salt, or prepared as soup, ready to eat out of the bottle. Appert said "“henceforth, everybody will be able to preserve the treasures nature bestows on us in one season and enjoy them in the sterile season when she refuses them.” (The Art of Preserving all kinds of Animal and Vegetable Substances 1811).
1813 - The Duke of Bedford promoted an act of Parliament to clarify the rules applicable to the use of Covent Garden Market in London. It established his right to collect tolls and a schedule to the Act contained a scale of the tolls which might be charged in the different parts of the market known as the casual cart stands. Here is the toll for "Carts containing wholly or principally carrots".
A Family Herbal - an account of the medicinal properties of British and Foreign plants – 1814. Robert John Thornton, MD, London reported that the seeds of wild Carrots had a warm and not disagreeable taste, and are esteemed as stomachic and diuretic, whereas the domestic seeds were described as carminative and diuretic. This work also talks about the uses of carrots in a poultice to ease sores. see Museum page about poultices page here.
1825 saw the publication of the encyclopaedia of Gardening by John Claudius Loudon which described in great depth the practices for the successful cultivation of carrots. It mentions that the perfect manure for a carrot field is "half for the dunghill and half from the merde (collected from the privies!), ploughed in and the surface made smooth so that the seeds can be planted in April, covered with a harrow."
1830 - The Botanic physician :being a compendium of the practice of physic, upon botanical principles, containing all the principal branches necessary to the study of medicine ... together with a variety of useful recipes, Elisha Smith. This gave guidance on the medicinal use of Wild Carrot seeds and cultivated roots:
1831 "A Guide to the orchard and kitchen garden, an account of the most valuable vegetables grown in Great Britain" written by George Lindley of the Royal Horticultural Society, lists the varieties of carrots grown at the time.
1833 - Wild ancestors and the modern carrot - In the days before the laws of heredity were properly understood, it used to be thought that if you grew wild carrots in your garden long enough, they would eventually turn into cultivated carrots, NOT SO!
The French botanist and horticulturist M Vilmorin-Andrieux reported in a paper to the Royal Horticultural Society in London that in six years from 1833, starting with wild seed from white rooted plants, he had managed to grow thicker, biennial , red rooted carrots, but they remained course, forked and not very tasty.
Vilmorin claimed to have produced a viable, cultivated carrot from wild plants in just a few generations. The experiment was never repeated and it is thought that the "wild" plants used had previously been hybridised in nature with cultivated carrots. (Source Banga 1957)
His partial success had nothing to do with cultivation and everything to do with the wild carrots gene pool that enabled him to fix the genomes he selected. He simply selected seed from biennial, red rooted variations. So he could not lay claim to be the founder of modern carrot, as many writers suggest.
Vilmorin produced "The Vegetable Garden" in 1856 and it became one of the major resources for botanists and others interested in garden plants.
Some images of the carrots varieties which Vilmorin described (and were probably the original orange carrot varieties developed in Holland):
The Victorians had a recipe to destroy crickets – a paste of flour, powdered arsenic, and scraped carrots, placed near their habitations. This was developed because it was discovered that crickets were very fond of carrots. (Magazine of domestic economy, volume iv, 1839)
The Penny Satirist (London, England), Saturday, June 29, 1839; pg. 4; Issue 115, reported as follows (left)
J E Carter 1837 wrote The botanic physician, or, Family medical adviser: being an improved system, found on correct physiological principles : comprising a brief view of anatomy, physiology, pathology, hygieine [sic], or art of preserving health : a materia medica, exclusively botanical, containing a description of more than two hundred and thirty of the most valuable vegetable remedies : to which is added a dispensatory, embracing more than two hundred recipes for preparing and administering medicine : the diseases of the United States, with their symptoms, causes, cures, and means of prevention : likewise, a treatise on the diseases peculiar to women and children. (extract above right)
The value of the sugar content in carrots was becoming more recognised and
valued. The Rural Cyclopedia written by Rev John Wilson in 1847 in Edinburgh
“Communicates a thorough knowledge of farming, a general knowledge of gardening
and a very considerable knowledge of the natural sciences and of general country
affairs.” , talked about the creation of an alcoholic spirit from carrots as
shown below. Nevertheless the main use for carrots was as animal fodder and
particularly recommended as a medicine for horses, given to aid breathlessness,
chronic cough, poor skin, to expel wind and given to sick or idle horses in
place of corn. "There is none better are perhaps even as good".
By 1849 the seeds catalogues were expanding their range - Early Scarlet Horn Long Orange Fine Surrey Parsnip (!) - Hollow Crown Altringham White (for agricultural) - Catalogue of John Kernan
In 1850 Miss Leslie's "Lady's New Receipt Book" gave a useful guide for small
and large families containing directions for cooking, preserving and pickling.
1852 - A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes, by Charles Elmé Francatelli
No. 113. Vegetable Porridge.
1860 - "The Habits of Good Society" commented - "There are many ways of dressing potatoes and carrots, which last are a vegetable much neglected at English tables, but when quite young, and dressed with butter in the French fashion, a delicious eatable, and a preventive of jaundice, which should recommend them strongly to professional diners-out.
1861 - saw the publication of Mrs Beeton's "Book of Household Management" arguably the most famous cookery writer in British history. she writes three pages on carrots and carrot recipes, how to boil, dress, stew and slice carrots. she describes their origin, the constituent parts of carrots and advice on how to collect seeds. She said "Several species of carrots are cultivated,—the red, the yellow, and the orange. Those known as the Crecy carrots are considered the best, and are very sweet. The carrot has been classed by hygienists among flatulent vegetables, and as difficult of digestion." Here is how she describes the nutritional value. Read anl extract from Mrs Beeton's cookbook here. (pdf) (full Mrs Beeton's Book on line here)
1861 - The Cultivator, monthly journal published in the USA, for the farm and garden dedicated to agricultural and rural improvement, by Luther Tucker & Son reported - "Will it pay to raise carrots for feeding stock, is a question often asked. It don't pay, is an assertion often made. Brother farmers, it does pay, and I will tell you how. It pays in the extra amount of food raised for a given amount of land and labour. I have not failed to raise but once in 12 years, a good crop of roots, mostly carrots, and have found them to pay me better than any crop that I can raise for cattle, sheep and horses. They give very rich milk and improve butter and are a healthy food for all animals" Extract from a Carroty Exhortation - letter published in the journal. See image of the letter here.
US Civil War (1861-65) - Coffee was by far the most popular beverage in the North and South and the US Army went to great efforts to endure that soldiers always had coffee beans. However in the South coffee became almost nonexistent early in the war and substitutes had to be found, including roasting acorns, corn, dandelion roots and carrot root. None were really satisfactory. One of the most reviled rations were the small cubes of dried carrots, onions, and celery distributed to both armies. Known as desiccated vegetables, these cubes were supposed to provide a reliable and portable source of fibre and vitamins. But the soldiers regarded as little more than bird food, and soon the cubes were called by a new name: “desecrated vegetables.”
The Danvers carrot is a true American heirloom, originated from market gardens in Danvers, MA. and introduced in 1871 (USA history, read more here)
Gentlemen in Teheran in the 1870's took carrots stewed in sugar as an aphrodisiac to increase the quality and quantity of sperm!
Joseph Banks the eminent botanist noted that carrots cultivated in Sandy, Bedfordshire were transported by mule to neighbouring areas, where growing conditions were less favourable.
All modern day carrots are directly descended from Dutch-bred carrots. The familiar vegetable with its thick sweet tasting root, comes from a natural variety of "Queen Anne's Lace" named Daucus Carota variety sativus (Sativus means cultivated) similar to dill, but with bright white umbrella - shaped flower clusters. Learn all about the Wild Carrot - Queen Anne's Lace here.
Botanischer Bilder-Atlas (1884) nach De Candolle's Natürlichem Pflanzensystem, Carl Hoffmann (image below left)
In 1896 Rev Walter James Hoffman MD wrote this article about popular superstitions which appeared in the US magazine “Popular Science Monthly”.
A good selection of carrots was advertised in Everitt's Catalogue of Celebrated Seeds (US) from 1896 - the following text gave more detailed descriptions of the varieties:
Early French Forcing—The earliest variety, largely grown for forcing purposes; globe shaped root of an orange red color.
Early Scarlet Horn—Best for early planting out of doors. Tops small, coarsely divided; roots top shaped, surface dented, skin orange red.
Ox-Heart—This new carrot conies from France. It is intermediate in length between the half-long varieties and the Short Horn, but much thicker than the latter, attaining at the top 3 or 4 inches in diameter. It is of fine quality for table use, and deserves general cultivation.
Half-Long Scarlet Nantes—Tops medium; roots cylindrical, smooth, bright orange; flesh orange, be- coming yellow in center, but with no distinct core; of the finest quality. This variety is extensively used in France for culinary purposes, and only needs to be known to supersede the coarser sorts for garden culture.
New Chantenay—This new half-long slump-root- ed carrot is one of the most productive varieties known, has an extra large shoulder, is easily dug, and is in every way desirable. It is very smooth, fine in texture, and of a beautiful rich orange color. Well worthy of cultivation.
Danvers Half-Long Orange—A most excellent variety for all soils. It will yield the greatest bulk with smallest length of roots of any variety, 20 to 30 tons being no unusual crop per acre.
Red Saint Vallery—A large, beautiful Carrot, of a rich, deep orange red color. The roots grow very straight and smooth, from ten to twelve inches long. Very fine quality for table use, and very productive.
Large White Belgian— Grows one-third cut of the ground; immense yielder; large size ; easily gathered; very suitable for stock. Improved Long Orange—Long roots, good yielder. Good for table or stock. We offer the best strain of this fine variety.
Giant Victoria—This is the Goliath among the carrot family. Under rich manuring it will grow to be nearly the size of an average mangold wurzel.
This extract from the Kings American Dispensary in 1898 shows that a carrot poultice was recommended - "Preparation.-Take of garden carrots, scraped, 4 ounces, Indian meal (corn meal), 1 ounce, boiling water, a sufficient quantity to form a cataplasm of the proper consistence. Action and Medical Uses.-This will be found a valuable application to indolent and gangrenous ulcers, and painful tumours."
The discovery of vitamins in the 19th century, and more particularly of vitamin A, increased the appreciation of the carrot in the every day diet, as it could help prevent night blindness. For this same reason, during the Second World War, British pilots were given large amounts of carrots in their diet. Vitamin A is also good for nails, hair and skin. It has been recognised as having proven nutritional properties from the very early days. See the Nutrition pages for more information.
Next page - 1900 to date.