Evolution and Improvement of Carrots from 1500 to 1700

Carrots in the Renaissance

History Wild Carrot Today Nutrition Cultivation Recipes Trivia Links Home Contact

History of the Carrot

Evolution and Improvement in the Renaissance -  AD 1500 to 1700

Chapters in the history rooms:

 History Part 1 - A Brief Timeline


 History Part 2 - Neolithic to AD 200 - Origins and development


 History Part 3 - AD 200 to 1500 - From Medicine to Food


 History Part 4 - 1500 to 1700 - Evolution and Improvement in the Renaissance


 History Part 5 - 1700 to 1900 - Science & Enlightenment - the modern carrot evolves


 History Part 6 - 1900 to date - The Modern Carrot and Genetic Discovery


 History of Carrot Colour - The road to domestication and the origin of Orange Carrots


 History in WW2 - Takes an in depth look of the role of carrots in World War Two, reviving its popularity


 Illustrations of Carrot in Ancient Manuscripts and Early Printed Books

more healthy carrotsBy the 16th century  the carrot, both in its Wild and Domesticated forms is referenced extensively in ancient Herbals and a selection of these is shown in detail on a separate page here.  The carrot in various colours also starts to appear in art works at this time. Art works alone are not considered to be good enough evidence of true colours as the paint colours used are not always true to type, and artists use colour effects in arranging their subjects. So in paintings, the differences between yellow and orange roots could be due to artistic features rather than to differences between cultivars. One can probably say with certainty that orange varieties were grown in the Netherlands at this time but this does not prove their origin in that locality. (Brandenberg) (examples of art works here)

In the late 1500s, agricultural scientists in the Netherlands bred selected deep yellow carrots together to make stable, large, straight, sweet, orange carrots like the ones we eat today, possibly because they thought the fad for sweet oranges would make people like other orange foods. But people still mostly fed carrots to horses and donkeys and pigs, and didn’t eat them themselves.

Dutch immigrants arriving in England from the middle of the sixteenth established communities, mostly in towns in southern and eastern England. Many were textile workers but vegetable gardeners and farmers also came, introducing the crops and intensive techniques of their native lands.

Immigrant gardeners made a significant contribution to food production at Norwich, Sandwich, and Colchester before the end of the sixteenth century. At Norwich in 1575 the Strangers' production of vegetables was 'grete succor and sustenaunce for the pore'. The vicar of St Clements, Sandwich, took tithe of Dutchmen's gardens from 1570. Some Strangers moved from Sandwich to Colchester; by I584 over 1000 Dutch people lived there and gardeners amongst them produced root vegetables for sale. (source - L F Roker, 'The Flemish and Dutch Community in Colchester in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries', M A London Univ, 1963. p 84, State Papers Domestic, Elizabeth, vol 2o, no 49; William Boys, Collections for an History of Sandwich, Canterbury, ~792, p 340)

There is quite a lot more information about the influence of Dutch agriculturists and their role in Sandwich in Garden seeds in England before the late eighteenth century: I. Seed growing By Malcolm Thick, Agricultural History Review, 1989) - full copy here - pdf)

It is important to note that the first documentary record of the use of "orange" as a colour name in English was in 1512, in a will now filed with the Public Record Office. Before this word was introduced to the English-speaking world, the colour was referred to as ġeolurēad (yellow-red). (Source: Oxford English Dictionary,2011.) Therefore documentary references to orange carrot are virtually non-existent around this time. One could argue that when writers were referring to light red or deep yellow they could easily have meant orange, as there was no word for it!

The 16th Century witnessed the use of carrots as flavourings for meat dishes, rather than a main vegetable. The herbalist Gerard noted that the yellow carrot has a mild flavour. (see more about the references to carrots - (Carrots in Herbals/Herbalists here  - Ancient Manuscripts page here) .  Root crops were not really grown in open fields until after the end of the 16th C although carrot, parsnip and skirrets had been familiar long before, evidence by several mentions in gardening and recipe cook books to “herbes for potage” and “herbes for salad”. Growing on any sort of scale was limited to the gardens of castles and monasteries. Much of the time they were mainly grown for the animals they kept rather than feed the people.

Gentlemen in their country house cajoled or bullied their tenants to supply them with novel luxuries such as they had enjoyed on their visits to London, with the result that many peasants grew carrots for sale at a very early date. It is recorded that many new vegetables were tithed – a sure sign that they were for sale and not just for household use. The date of 1614 is recorded as the time in Kirkby Malzeard, Yorkshire when artichokes, parsnips carrots and turnips were tithed.

Nearly all the botanists and writers on gardening, all over Europe, were familiar with the carrot and were describing many kinds, including red and purple kinds in France and yellow and red kinds in England. Daucus came to be the official name in the sixteenth century, and was adopted by Linnaeus in the eighteenth century. It is thought that for the first few hundred years of its managed cultivation, carrot roots were predominantly purple.

So little were vegetables cultivated, or gardening understood as yet, that in the year 1509, Henry the 8th's Queen Catharine could not procure a "sallad", till Henry sent to the Netherlands (Holland/Flanders), and engaged a gardener to come over to raise the proper articles here. There is noted an entry in the household book of Cliffords, originally kept in Skipton Castle, a sum of eleven shillings “for six cabbages and some caret roots bought at Hull”. These were then imported from Flanders, whence Queen Catherine had her salads. It was not until the end of Henry's reign that vegetables such as carrots and turnips were available and used by the masses. (Reference - History of Great Britain, D Hume, 1832)

At a date probably soon after 1525 an alphabetical list of herbs 'necessary for a garden' was compiled for Thomas Fromond, a Surrey landowner who died in 1543. The list is followed by groups of plants classified for specific purposes and by further collections of species destined for a sophisticated pleasure garden. The form of the list follows a new fashion, and the choice of plants indicates fresh developments in gardening, in line with the changed outlook of the Renaissance.

"Also Rotys For A Gardyn  - Persenepez, Turnepez, Radyche, Karettes, Galyngale, Tryngez, Saffron."

In an agricultural treatise printed in 1569 Agostino Gallo listed what were the then common garden vegetables. These were grown for their usefulness and health-giving properties, which Gallo also details. They were cabbages, leeks, garlic, onions, fennel, carrots, squashes, turnips, radishes, peas, shallots, erba sana (all-good, a kind of wild spinach), artichokes and asparagus.

The Middle Ages was dominated by Galenism.

A good example was the Galenic handbook “The Castel of Helthe” (1541) by Sir Thomas Elyot (1490-1546) who praised “moderate lyvinge” and warns readers to avoid extremes in eating, drinking and sleeping as well as “immoderate” “affectes and passions” harmful to both physical and spiritual well being.

This extract (right) gives his reference to carrots, recommending them to expel wind and urine.

 Ludvig V ‘Book of Medicine’ , around 1530 - magic use of carrots

One of the 13 volumes of Louis V, Count Palatine of the Rhine reigned: 1508-1544 (German: Ludwig V. von der Pfalz)  ‘Book of Medicine’, around 1530 and compiled and wrote in his own hand, explained the medicinal and magical use of "mohren" - carrots, including recipes. (c. 3200 leaves of parchment) (Cod. Pal. germ. 244, 261-272 - Heidelberg Library) (image right yet to be translated; click image for larger version)

"Rezepte gegen Krankheiten der Augen = Recipes for the diseases of the eyes"

Dr Andrew Boorde, ”physycke doctor” was an English traveller, physician and writer. He started his career as an under age Carthusian monk who was subsequently “accused of being conversant with women” and dispensed from religion by the Pope’s Bull. He travelled the world in the early 1500’s to study medicine, going on to write his: A compendyous regyment; or, A dyetary of helth made in Mountpyllier Dyetary in around1542.  He refers to carrots thus: "Carets soden and eaten doth auge and increase nature and doth cause a man to make water" - extract below.


Andrew Boord 1542 - carrots cause a man to make water

Leonhart Fuchs, 1542 (below) - marked "Pastinaca Sativus Prima", but clearly has the attributes of the carrot plant. De historia stirpium commentarii insignes (Image courtesy of Smithsonian Institute)

The image (below left) shows an early German drawing taken from “Herbarum Imagines Vivae”  printed from a copy of the original 1535 Frankfurt Edition belonging to the Leopold Sophien Bibliothek Uberlingen.  Right is taken from "Botanicon: continens herbarum aliorumque simplicium" By Theodor Dorsten 1540. As you can see the same woodcut image is used in both publications. Centre is from Pedacio Dioscorides Anazarbeo, Acerca de la materia medicinal, Andrés de Laguna - 1555.

Taken from “Herbarum Imagines Vivae”  printed from a copy of the original 1535 Frankfurt Edition belonging to the Leopold Sophien Bibliothek Uberlingen.

Pedacio Dioscorides Anazarbeo, Acerca de la materia medicinal  Andrés de Laguna - 1555

Botanicon: continens herbarum aliorumque simplicium" By Theodor Dorsten 1540


Walther Hermann Ryff - Lustgarten der Gesundtheit. (Garden of Health) - Frankfurt, 1546 (Note that the woodcut image is exactly the same as the 1535 manuscript above)

Gelb means yellow" and "Rublinl" translates as "carrot"

This document has a notation that acreage is grown of the 'gelb' carrot near Cologne, but a 'roter' (red) is grown near Strassburg. Since the descriptions both use the word robe, which can be translated as beet, I don't know if the discussion about the two types means a yellow and a more reddish carrot or a yellow carrot and a red beet or not.

It does seem that the illustration and attribution as daucia signifies a carrot, and there is the notation that the gelb (yellow) one is found in the wild.

Click on picture for full extract (pdf).

Cogan, Thomas. 1584. The Haven of Health. London: Thomas Orwin. Thomas Cogan observes that “al herbs and fruits generally are noyfull to man and doe engender ill humors, and be oft-times the cause of putrified Fevers, if they be much and continually eaten.” He notes that apples, the fruit “most used amongst us in England,” should not be consumed raw; and yet “unruly people through wanton appetite will not refrain [from] them, and chiefly in youth when (as it were) by a naturall affection they greedily covet them.” Cogan also warns against the consumption of parsnips and carrots, which “provoke Carnall lust.” One furhter reference in this work - " root vegetables also kept the belly feeling full; carrots and parsnips were “common meate amongst the common people, all time of autumne, and chiefly upon fish daies.”

This illustration from an Italian Herbal in 1500 shows one plant, top, "Pastinacha," probably (family Umbelliferae) (usually but not always! Parsnip) but perhaps Athamanta cretensis three compound branchings from a vertical stem, green with white roots and white berries. Figures associated with plant, "Pastinacha," apparently in reference to its use to promote lactation, evidenced by a nude woman facing holding a baby (also nude), which presses its face against her breast and touches it with its hand. .

Source : University of Vermont. Library. MS 2. [Italian herbal]. [ca. 1500] MS 2 fol. 24

pastinaca or carrot italian herbal 1500

Did the Dutch "Invent" Orange Carrots to honour the House of Orange?

Red and yellow carrots started to appear in Europe in the 13th century and it is now known, from modern genetic research, that orange carrots were developed from those yellow varieties. In the late 1500s, agricultural scientists in the Netherlands bred selected deep yellow carrots together to make stable, large, straight, sweet, orange carrots like the ones we eat today, possibly because they thought the fad for sweet oranges would make people like other orange foods. But people still mostly fed carrots to horses and donkeys and pigs, and didn’t eat them themselves.

From the middle of the 16th century various carrot colours started to appear in art works, principally from the Dutch and Flemish regions, with paintings depicting market and kitchen scenes and including orange and other carrot colours.

So it is regularly assumed by scholars that it was the Dutch who developed the orange carrot, as we now know from yellow varieties. As we now know from modern genetics it would take several decades to stabilise a new plant variety.

There is no documentary evidence that the Dutch "invented" orange carrots to honour the Royal Family, the House of orange. A tale, probably apocryphal, has it that the orange carrot was bred in the Netherlands in the sixteenth century to honour William of Orange. Though the development and stabilisation of the orange carrot root does appear to date from around that period in the Netherlands, it is unlikely that honouring William of Orange had anything to do with it!

As far as The Carrot Museum is concerned the Dutch developed and stabilised the orange carrot, in the 16th century. Subsequently the Dutch people adopted the colour orange and adopted orange carrots as their national vegetable. There is no written evidence that this was also to honour their Royal Family .The point is that the orange carrot came first, Dutch Nationalism second.

To this day, many in the Netherlands genuinely like to believe that orange carrots were originally grown specifically as a tribute to the House of Orange. No matter how many times it is repeated and passed on through the generations it still remains pure folklore!!

There is still some evidence that orange rooted carrots were around long before. For instance a depiction in an ad 512 manuscript. - see here

From the middle of the 16th century carrots started to appear in art works, principally from the Dutch and Flemish regions, with paintings depicting market and kitchen scenes and including various carrots colours.  Many examples appear on the art pages in the World Carrot Museum, starting here. Two examples below from the mid 1500's.

An Allegory of Summer (Lucas Van Valckenborch). 1535-97. Private collection Vegetable Market (Lucas Van Valckenborch). 1535-97.  Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

One of the earliest images from this period appears in the Last Supper, Stavronikita Monastery, Refectory, Fresco by Theophanes the Cretan, Cretan School, 1546.The Monastery is an Eastern Orthodox monastery at the monastic state of Mount Athos in Greece, dedicated to Saint Nicholas. It is built on top of a rock near the sea near the middle of the eastern shore of the Athonite peninsula, located between the monasteries of Iviron and Pantokratoros. The site where the monastery is built was first used by Athonite monks as early as the 10th century. Stavronikita was the last to be officially consecrated as an Athonite monastery in 1536 and ranks fifteenth in the hierarchy of the Athonite monasteries and currently has 30 to 40 monks.  Click on the main picture to see a larger version.


 Last Supper, Stavronikita Monastery, Refectory 1546

Left - Last Supper, Stavronikita Monastery, Refectory, Fresco by Theophanes the Cretan, Cretan School, 1546.  Below close up detail.


By the Elizabethan period large quantities of vegetables were raised in the increasing numbers of market gardens especially around large towns such as London, Norwich and Worcester. Some concentrated on cheap, high-yielding crops for the poor: parsnips, carrots, turnips and cabbages, once the fashionable food of the rich now became a mainstream staple.  According to Hales History of Agriculture by dates (1915)  "Salads, carrots and other edible roots were first produced in England in 1530."

However (!) the 1829 book Rural Recollections on the Improvement in Agricultural and Rural Affairs by Geo Robertshaw states (erroneously)

"Carrots were not cultivated in England before the reign of Henry VIII. In the Six Weeks Tour of Arthur Young in1770, he takes notice of carrots in several instances, as being cultivated in the fields."

During this period both carrots and skirrets were eaten as individual vegetables rather than simply mixed into soup. Carrots were ‘roasted in the embers til they be tender’ then pared and eaten with vinegar and oil.

William Rhind wrote in the "History of the Vegetable Kingdom", 1857 - "Carrot was first generally cultivated in England in the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1 (1533-1603), being introduced by the Flemings, who took refuge from the persecutions of Philip II of Spain, and who, finding the soil about Sandwich peculiarly favourable for it, grew it there largely. The English whose agricultural knowledge which was circumscribed, were in this case well pleased to add another edible vegetable to the scanty list which were then under cultivation. The carrot grew quickly into esteem and, being made an object of careful culture, was very shortly naturalised throughout the land. Parkinson, the celebrated botanist to James the First, mentions that in his time the ladies adorned their head dresses with carrot leaves, the light feathery verdure of which caused then to be no contemptible substitute for the plumage f birds. Although the taste of the fair sex in the present day had discarded this simple and perishable ornament, the leaves of the carrot are even now sometimes used as house decorations."

Leonhard Rauwolf (also spelled Leonhart Rauwolff) (21 June 1535 – 15 September 1596) was a German physician, botanist, and traveller. His main notability arises from a trip he made through the Levant and Mesopotamia in 1573-75. The motive of the trip was to search for herbal medicine supplies. Shortly after he returned, he published a set of new botanical descriptions with an herbarium. Later he published a general travel narrative about his visit. Both the yellow and the red carrot was seen by Rauwolf growing in Aleppo, the largest City in Syria and again in Tripoli in Lebanon.

  A few 16th Century references and recipes - (note: As was the common practice at this period, many printed works re-used many previously published books, and called them their own work!)

In an agricultural treatise printed in 1569, just twenty years after Rangoni’s regimen, Agostino Gallo listed what were the then common garden vegetables.[15] These were grown for their usefulness and health-giving properties, which Gallo also details. They were cabbages, leeks, garlic, onions, fennel, carrots, squashes, turnips, radishes, peas, shallots, erba sana (all-good, a kind of wild spinach), artichokes and asparagus. (Gallo, A. (2003 [1569]), Le vinti giornate dell’agricoltura e dei piaceri della villa . L. Crosato (ed). Treviso: Canova, pp. 129–39 )

1548 - William Turner's, The Names of Herbes writes;

"Pastinaca is called…in englishe a Carot…Carettes growe in al countreis in plentie."Daucus.(wild carrots)

There are many kyndes of Daucus after Dioscorides, three at the least, wherof I knowe none suerly but one, whiche is called in latin pastinaca syluestris, in english wild carot in greeke Staphilinos agrios, for the other kindes ye may vse carawey seede, or carot seede. Some learned me not without a cause hold that both the Saxifrages, that is the englishe, and the Italion may be occupied for Dauco. Daucus is sharpe and heateth.

Pastinaca.(domestic carrots)

Pastinaca is called in greeke Staphilinos in englishe a Carot, in duche pasteney, in frenche Cariottes. Carettes growe in al countreis in plentie.

The 1551 edition of the "Libro de Agricultura" by Gabriel Alonso de Herrera has this to say about carrots.

Of carrots and parsnips. Platina puts these two kinds of roots in the same chapter even though they are different in their colours. Parsnips are white like turnips, except that they are thinner and longer. Carrots have the appearance of turnips, neither more nor less, except that some are the colour of oranges; others are so red that they turn dark.

Original  - Delas zanahorias y chirivias. Estas dos maneras de rayzes pone el Platina en un mismo capi. aun que ellas son differentes en sus colores: que las chirivias son blancas como los nabos salvo que son mas delgadas y largas. Las zanahorias son de la hechura de los nabos ni mas ni menos: salvo ser unas de color de naranjas: otras muy coloradas tanto que tornan en prietas. (Original text here) Full work here.

1563 - The Earliest English Gardening Book - A Briefe And Pleasaunt Treatise, Entitled, Naturall and Artificiall Conclusions by Thomas Hyll the text of 1581, edited by John Helvin, mentions Yealow Carret brought to England by the Hugenot refugees from Flanders.

1565 - It is thought that the cultivated European carrot was found growing on Margarita Island, off the coast of Venezuela, in 1565, as shown by Sir John Hawkins reference to it in the account of his voyage. The narrative of this voyage is by John Sparke, one of the members of the expedition.

His second slave trade voyage which led to the permanent establishment of the English slave trade between Africa and the West Indies and departed from Plymouth, UK in October 1564  going to the coast of Guinea and the Indies  of Nova Spania (West Indies).   On the 16th March, 1565 they came across "an island called Maragarita".

Here is a summary of the account:

“Neere about this place, inhabited by certaine Indians …. they brought down to us which we bought for beades, pewter whistles, glasses, knives and other trifles, Potatoes; these were the most delicate rootes that may be eaten, and doe far exceede their passeneps or carets."

(source - John Spark, The Voyage Made by M. John Hawkins Esquire, 1565, Burrage, Henry S. (editor). Early English and French Voyages, Chiefly from Hakluyt Society, 1534-1608; New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1906, Pages 113-132. - The Hawkins Voyages by Clements R Markham 1878, issued by the Hakluyt Society of London - John Sparke of Plymouth, who sailed with Hawkins, wrote an account of the second slavery voyage. Sparke made reference, probably for the first time in English, to carets (carrots!) seen in the West Indies)

This account is disputed as some translations or interpretations show the word “our” rather than “their”;  “our” would indicate he was comparing them to the carrots grown back in England; “their” would suggest that carrots were already growing in Margarita Island.

In 1575 both the yellow and the red carrot was seen by Rauwolf growing in Aleppo, the largest City in Syria and again in Tripoli in Lebanon.

ThomasThomas RTusser 1875 carrets Tusser in 1577 wrote (right) "Five Hundred Good Pointes of Husbandrie" (right) -  in the "herbes and Rootes to boile or to butter" he notes at number 3 Carrets. His epitaph stated "His writings show that he possessed a truly Christian spirit, and his excellent maxims and observations on rural affairs evince that he was far in advance of the age in which he lived." (extract right, originally published 1557)

1584 - In Haven of Health Thomas Cogan described parsnips and carrots as ‘common meate among common people, all the time of autumne, and chiefly upon fish daies.’

The Widowes Treasure (1585),  written by a gentlewoman (no name given) for her private use. It gave first place to medicines, to induce sleep, ward off plague, ease aching feet and so on, but other simple cooking directions were included that carry us straight into the kitchen of any ordinary housewife. Meat stews were cooked in a pot, using mutton or chicken, hare or rabbit. Fair water was used for the broth, with salt and pepper, adding root vegetables in winter (carrots were specifically named) and herbs in summer (those mentioned being hyssop, thyme and parsley).

1587 - William Harrison (1534-1593): Description Of Elizabethan England, (from Holinshed's Chronicles) wrote:

Such herbs, fruits, and roots also as grow yearly out of the ground, of seed, have been very plentiful in this land, in the time of the first Edward, and after his days; but in process of time they grew also to be neglected, so that from Henry the Fourth till the latter end of Henry the Seventh and beginning of Henry the Eighth, there was little or no use of them in England, but they remained either unknown or supposed as food more meet for hogs and savage beasts to feed upon than mankind. Whereas in my time their use is not only resumed among the poor commons, I men of melons, pompons, gourds, cucumbers, radishes, skirrets,  parsnips, carrots, cabbages, navews,  turnips, and all kinds of salad herbs - but also fed upon as dainty dishes at the tables of delicate merchants, gentlemen, and the nobility, who make their provision yearly for new seeds out of strange countries, from whence they have them abundantly.

The inhabitants of many places of our country are devoured and eaten up, and their houses either altogether pulled down or suffered to decay little by little, although some time a poor man peradventure doth dwell in one of them, who, not being able to repair it, suffereth it to fall down - and thereto thinketh himself very friendly dealt withal, if he may have an acre of ground assigned unto him, wherein to keep a cow, or wherein to set cabbages, radishes, parsnips, carrots, melons, pompons,  or such like stuff, by which he and his poor household liveth as by their principal food, sith they can do no better. Source- Chapter III: Of Gardens And Orchards [1587, Book II., Chapter 20.

1587 - The Compendium of Materia Medica, also known by the romanizations Bencao Gangmu or Pen-tsao Kang-mu, is a Chinese materia medica work written by Li Shizhen during the Ming Dynasty. It is a work epitomizing the materia medica known at the time. The Compendium of Materia Medica is regarded as the most complete and comprehensive medical book ever written in the history of traditional Chinese medicine. It lists all the plants, animals, minerals, and other items that were believed to have medicinal properties. (Source - Luo Xiwen, tr. Bencao Gangmu: Compendium of Materia Medica. 6 vols. Foreign Languages Press. 2003) This is the extract referring to Carrot:

1588 - Widows Treasure 1588, Edward White - gave advice on cooking mutton (in Winter!) (image right)

1589 - Sweet potatoes (Ipomea batata), described by the Elizabethan traveller Richard Hakluyt in  1589 as ‘the most delicate rootes that may be eaten, and doe farre exceed our passeneps or carrots.’

1591 - A Book of Cookrye - Very Necessary for all such as delight therin. Gathered by A. W

To make a pudding in a Carret root. Take your Carret root and scrape it fair, then take a fine knife and cut out all the meat that is within the roote, and make it hollow, then make your pudding stuffe of the liver of a gooce or of a Pig, with grated bread, Corance, Cloves and mace, Dates, Pepper, Salt and Sugar, chop your Liver very small, and perboile it ere you chop it, so doon, put it in your hollow root. As for the broth, take mutton broth with corance, carets sliste, salt, whole Mace, sweet Butter, Vergious and grated bread, and so serve it forth upon sippets. (Vergious - verjuice -  very acidic juice made by pressing unripe grapes. Sometimes lemon or sorrel juice, herbs or spices are added to change the flavour. In the Middle Ages, it was widely used all over Western Europe as an ingredient in sauces, as a condiment, or to deglaze preparations, possibly akin to vinegar)

To seeth Hennes and capons in Winter, in whitebroth.
Take a neck of mutton & a marow bone, and let them boile with the Hennes togither, then take Carret roots, and put them into the pot, and then straine a little bread to thick the pot withall and not too thicke, season it with Pepper & vergious, and then cover them close and let them boyle togither, then cut Sops and put the broth and the marrow above, and so serve them.

source - http://jducoeur.org/Cookbook/Cookrye.html

1594 - The Good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin. London

To boyl mutton with Carrets. Take a breast or necke of Mutton, cut it of the bignes of your thombe, and put it into an earthen pot with faire water, and make it seeth: Then take Carret rootes, and scrape them cleane, and cut them of the bignesse of your Mutton, and let them seeth, then put in halfe a handfull of stripped Tyme, asmuch of Sauorie and Jsope, and a litle salte and Pepper: Let them seeth till your Mutton and roots be verie tender, then serve them upon sops.

1595 - There is noted an entry in the household book of Cliffords, kept in Skipton Castle a sum of eleven shillings “for six cabbages and some caret roots bought at Hull”. These were then imported from Flanders, whence even Queen Catherine Parr in the reign of Henry Vlll had had her salads.
Source: 'Book 1, Ch. 7: Henry VII and Henry VIII', A New History of London: Including Westminster and Southwark (1773), pp. 106-122. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=46724  Date accessed: 08 February 2011.

1596 - The Good Huswifes Jewell - London .

Recipe for "SALLET FOR FISH DAIES" - Onions in flakes laid round about the dishe; with minced carrots laid in the middle of the dish, with boyled hips (rosehips) in five parts like a oken leafe made and garnished with tansey long cut with oyle and vinegar. (From Garden of Herbs 1921 - Eleanour Rohde)

Carret roots being minced, and then made in the dish, after the proportion of a Flowerdeluce, then picke shrimps and lay upon it with oyle and vinegar. (this is thought to mean arranging the minced carrot in the shape of a flower - a lily).

To boyle meates for supper. Take veale and put it into a posnet with carret roots cur in long peeces, then boile it and put thereto a handfull of prunes and crummes of Bread, then season it with pepper, salt and vineger.

To boile Plovers. (a wading bird) You must straine your sweet broth into a pipkin, and set them on the fire, and when they boile, you must skum them, and then put in a peece of Butter, and a good deale of spennedge, and a litle parsely, and a peece of carret roote cut verie small, and a fewe currants, and so let them boyle, and all manner of spices, and a little whyte wine, and a litle vergice, and so serue them upon soppes.

To boyle Quailes. Firste, put them into a Pot with sweete broth, and set them on the fire, then take a Carret roote, and cut him in peeces, and put into the potte, then take perselye with sweete hearbes, and chop them a little, and put them into the potte, then take Synamon, Ginger, Nutmegges, and Pepper, and put in a little Vergice, and so season it with salt, serue them upon soppes, and garnish them with fruit. (source - http://www.medievalcookery.com/notes/ghj1596.txt)

1597 - The Good Huswifes Handmaid

To Boyle mutton with Carrets (image below)

 Take a breast or neck of mutton cut it of the bigness of your thumbe and put into an earthen pot with faire water, and make it seeth : Then take Carret roots, and scrape them cleane, and cutte them of the bygness of your mutton, and let them seeth, then put in a halfe handful of stripped Thyme, as much of Savorie and Jsope (Hyssop?), and a little salte and Pepper : Let them seeth till you Mutton and roots be verie tender, then serve them upon Sops.

1597 - second part

To boyle mary bones for dinner. First put your mary bones into a faire pot of Water, and let them boyle till they bee halfe enough, then take out al your broath, saving so much as will cover your mary bones, then put therto eight or nine carret rootes, and see they be wel scraped and washed, and cut inch long or little lesse and a handfull of Parselie and Isop chopped small, and season it with Salte, Pepper and Saffron. You may boyle Chynes and racks of Veale in al points as this is.

To boile Mutton for Supper. Take Carret rootes, and cut them an inch long, take a handfull of parselie and time halfe chopped, and put into the pot the Mutton, and so let them boyle, being seasoned with Salte and pepper, and so serue it foorth.


Good Huswife 1597

In 1598, Juan de Oñate, descendant of a wealthy mining family in Zacatecas, Mexico, won the contract to settle New Mexico. Oñate's expedition was a fully fledged colonising enterprise, and the introduction of new animals and plants was an important part of the plan. Various accounts credit Oñate with the introduction to Mexico of carrots (amongst other vegetables and a variety of herbs and spices).

1598 - Epulario (Italian Banquet) says carrots roasted in embers provide a “sanguine” color.

North America, particularly the parts that would become the Thirteen Colonies, got its carrots somewhat later, with the arrival of the first English settlers in Virginia in1609.

1599 - In his book Profitable Instructions for the Manuring, Sowing and Planting of Kitchen Gardens, Richard Gardner wrote: "Sow carrots in your gardens and humbly praise God for them, as for a singular and great blessing."  Seed selling was just starting to take place at this time.  Richard Gardiner who included a price list in his I599 pamphlet on vegetable and seed growing, offering vegetable seeds retail and also wholesale - 'if any person desire to buy any store of principall carret seedes . . . to sell for reason to others, to benefit the commonwealth, I am willing to serve his turne better cheape then before is declared.'

This was the first printed book dedicated to growing vegetables and urged that more carrots should be grown, because “forraine nations” like Holland were reaping the benefit from their lucrative export trade. This was the only book before 1773 to give detailed instructions on raising seed on a commercial scale.  Mr Gardiner was a draper from Shrewsbury and saved the lives of many poor people during a famine by supplying them with carrots. He considered that the “large yellow Carret and the great shorte yellow Carret were the best and fairest rootes” then grown in his native County of Salop (ShropshireUK).

Richard Gardiner's 'Profitable Instructions' of 1599 gives a detailed description of vegetable seed Growing which is particularly valuable because of its early date, is. The book was written by a philanthropic market gardener and textile merchant of Shrewsbury in an effort to encourage kitchen gardening and seed growing. In the passage quoted below Gardiner guides the reader through carrot seed production. Having selected the best carrots from the main crop in September and transplanted them, well spaced, to new beds:

"Then have you nothing to doe with them untill about the last of Aprill, at which time they will bee growne about a yard in height: then you have need to take care of them, for the winde will easily breake them by the ground: then must you prepare some kinde of packe-threed, or lynen threed to set about them as a girdle, about two foote high from the earth as neede shall require by the growing of the branches: gird some higher then other some.

Then shortly after you must have stakes in a readines, and as the Carrets must stand one against the other in the bed: so likewise the stakes must stand one against the other, to everye foure Carrets two stakes. The stakes must bee a yard and a half above thc ground, and a sure holde within the earth for danger ofwinde: then must you prepare packe-threed or other threed to goe from stake to stakc all the length of thc bed, one course of lyrics must be about two foote high, and another course of lynes must bee neere the top of the stakes, so that there must be two courses of lynes on the utter side of the stakes on both sides the bed.

Then must you have crosse lynes . . . . as the Carrets branches doc grow they must be somewhat tended to keepe them in good order within the lynes: this being done about the last of August, the Carret seedes will begin to bee ripe, and as they doe change to some browne colour, so to bee cut from time to time, untill the last bee sufficiently ripe about the first of October: Then place the Carret seedes as you doe cut them on a Chamber floore to drie, & when they be drie, beate the secdes out with small staves, or best with tbe edge of a lath, and cleanse them from the composte or refuse (as you finde best by experience) with ridle and sive."

Further on in this work he talks about the storage of Carrets (carrots):

"In the two months of October and November, when you have leisure in drie weather, then provide a vessel or wine caske, or some other: then lay on course of sand on the bottome of the vessel two inches thicke, then a course of carret rootes, so that the rootes do not touch one another: then another course of sand to cover those rootes, and then another course of sand, and in this manner untill the vessell bee full to the top, and if you have a ground seller, you may packe them in some corner in this manner, you must cut away all the branches of the carrets close by the roote, and somewhat of the small endes of the Carrets, and they must be so packed in sand unwashed and about the last of December: sometime when there is no frost, you must then unpacke them againe, and then the carret rootes will begin to spring in the top of the roote, then if you desire to keepe them untill a longer time, then you must pare off the upper ende of the roote, that they cannot spring any more in the top, and then packe them again in sande as aforesaid, so you may keepe them well till Lent or Easter.”  (Source - Garden seeds in England before the late eighteenth century: I. Seed growing By Malcolm Thick, Agricultural History Review, 1989)

Even at this early date it was recognised how valuable seed selection was, choosing for size shape and colour. - Very much the same as today, with flavour not high on the list!

Whilst the term “Victory Garden” has become synonymous with World War Two, its origin can be traced back to the 1600’s in England where Richard Gardner in his book entitled Victory Gardens wrote: 

"If any citie or towne should be besieged with the enemy  what better provision for the greatest number of people  can be than every garden be sufficiently planted with carrots”

1633 - Chester Mystery Plays - this rather odd performance was apparently included in a "masque" performed in 1633

(reference Chambers' "Book of Days" 1869 mentions carrots while describing the Chester Mystery Plays  - listed under May 15th)

"The fift a Physition, on his head a Hat with a bunch of Carrots, a Capon perched upon his fist." is from "The Trivmph of Peace. A Masque, presented by the Foure Honourable Houses, or Innes of Court. Before the King and Queenes Majesties, in the Banquetting-house at White Hall, February the third, 1633. Invented and written, By James Shirley, of Grayes Inne" who was one of the leading playwrights in the decade before the closing of the theatres by Parliament in 1642. (Text is here: http://jacklynch.net/Texts/triumph.html) in which we find:

This grave man, some yeares past was a Phisition,

A Galenist, and parcell Paracelsus,

Thriu'd by diseases, but quite lost his practice,

To study a new way to fatten Poultry

With scrapings of a Carrot, a great benefit

To th'Commonwealth.

Printed by Iohn Norton, for William Cooke [etc.] 1633 [i.e. 1634]

James Shirley, (born September 1596, London, Eng.—buried Oct. 29, 1666, London), English poet and dramatist, one of the leading playwrights in the decade before the closing of the theatres by Parliament in 1642. with scenery by Inigo Jones and music by William Lawes. (william Lawes was killed in Chester during the Civil War)

These pageants or triumphs have, like their predecessors, the mysteries, their relation to the English drama; not only were they composed for the purpose of flattering and complimenting their princes, but a moral end was constantly kept in view: virtue was applauded, while vice was set forth in its most revolting and unpleasing colours; and the altercations between these two leading personages often afforded the populace the highest amusement.

The opportunity was also seized upon of presenting to royal ears some of the political abuses of the day; as in one offered by the Inns of Court to Charles the First, where ridicule was thrown upon the vexatious law of patents: a fellow appearing with a bunch of carrots on his head, and a capon on his fist, and asking for a patent of monopoly as the first inventor of the art of feeding capons with carrots, and that none but himself should have privilege of the said invention for fourteen years; whilst another came mounted on a little horse with an immense bit in his mouth, and the request that none should be allowed to ride unless they purchased his bits.

(Reference http://chester.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Chamber%27s_Book_of_days#Content)

The New World - Carrots arrived before the Mayflower. European voyagers carried the carrot to America soon after discovery of the New World.  After Columbus' first visit to the Caribbean in 1492, the islands became the melting pot of the world with explorers from Europe, Asia, Africa and America who each brought plants, animals, and customs from their homelands. 

The cultivated European carrot was found growing on Margarita Island, off the coast of Venezuela, in 1565, as shown by Sir John Hawkins reference to it and presumably planted by Spanish Conquistadors. 

North America, particularly the parts that would become the Thirteen Colonies, got its carrots somewhat later, with the arrival of the first English settlers in Virginia in1607, from the Virginia Company.

John Sparke came from a genteel family in Plymouth, England, but we know little of his life beyond the information included in his account of John Hawkins’ second voyage to the Spanish colonies. Sir John Hawkins (1532-1595) started his career in the slave trade in the early 1560s, when he became the first Englishman to kidnap Africans and carry them to the West Indies. Right is an extract from this account. "This place" was referred to earlier in the text as Margarita Island.

Sparke reported on both social events and the environment he encountered. His account of the expedition provided English readers with their first knowledge of Florida’s inhabitants, flora, and fauna. Sparke filled his narrative with exciting and sometimes fabulous accounts, including descriptions of rattlesnakes, unicorn horns, man-eating crocodiles, and Spaniards flayed by Indians.

Source - The Voyage Made by M. John Hawkins Esquire, 1565 Burrage, Henry S. (editor). Early English and French Voyages, Chiefly from Hakluyt, 1534-1608. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1906). Pages 113-132.

1635 - William Wood published a very fine account of New England called  "New England's Prospect"  In Wood's work we have a true, lively and experimental description of that part of America commonly called New England. William Wood author, came to the New World in 1629, and gives the result of his observations and experience during a residence of four years.

"Chap. V. Of the Hearbes & Fruites, Woods, Waters and Mineralls. The ground affoards very good kitchin Gardens, for’ Turneps, Parfnips, Carrots, Radifhes, and Pumpions, Muskmillions, Isquouterqualhes, Coucumbers, Onyons, and whatfoever growes well in England growes as well there, many things being better and larger" (the full work is here)

The early Dutch settlers planted fruit trees, including apples, pears, and peaches; vegetables such as lettuces, cabbages, parsnips, carrots, or beets; and herbs like parsley, rosemary, chives, and tarragon. Adriaen van der Donck’s A Description of the New Netherlands, published in 1655, reported that all sorts of European fruits and vegetables “thrive well.”

1679 - New England’s Rarities John Josselyn Gentleman - the book is of peculiar interest, for it contains the first published lists of English plants that would thrive in America and included carrots - more detail below.

A separate Carrot Museum page details the progress of Carrots in America and the New World, here.

The Orange Carrot Arrives ! (A more detailed, academic discussion on the origins of the orange carrot is given in a separate museum page here.

A tale, probably apocryphal, has it that the orange carrot was bred in the Netherlands in the sixteenth century to honour William of Orange. Though the stabilised orange carrot does date from around this period in the Netherlands, it is unlikely that honouring William of Orange had anything to do with it!  It is said, (without much historical reference) that the orange carrot was developed in Holland as a tribute to William I of Orange during the Dutch fight for independence from Spain in the 16th century. The orange carrot, not only had a better taste, did not leech its colour into cookware,  but also had beta carotene making it healthier, and so all other carrots stopped being planted.  Some astute historian managed to install the myth that the work on an unusual yelllow variety was developed especially to thank William of Orange for achieving independence from Spain.Wild Carrot alongside domesticated Not true!

It is considered that Dutch growers developed the vegetable by selective breeding, probably from a natural yellow variety, to make it less bitter, and then it was adopted it as the Royal vegetable in honour of the House of Orange.  The King at the time was William of Orange (1533-84), also known as William the Silent who led the revolt to gain independence from Spain.

Carrots were originally purple, with a thin root. It is commonly reported (without documentary evidence) that the cultivated domestic orange variety did not appear in writings or illustrations until the 1500's when it is thought Dutch agricultural scientists and growers used a mutant yellow carrot seed, perhaps from North Africa to develop a carrot in the colour of the House of Orange, the Dutch Royal Family.
It has been suggested by some historians that In an attempt to "nationalize" the country's favourite vegetable they began experiments on improving the pale yellow versions by cross breeding them with other varieties and wild forms.  These varieties contain beta carotene to produce orange-coloured roots.  There is no documentary evidence for this.

It is more likely that Dutch horticulturists actually found a deep yellow rooted variety and then worked on its development through selective breeding to make the plant consistent.  Through successive hybridisation the orange colour intensified. This was developed to become the dominant species across the world - a wonderful, sweet orange, also appearing with different root shapes and respective sizes.

The myth that the Dutch "invented"  the orange carrot is a romantic tale, difficult to substantiate in the light of the appearance of an illustration of a mutant/hybrid orange variety (shown below) existing in ad 512, long before the current orange variety developed by the Dutch, and the lack of any other documentary evidence . There is also an 11th century manuscript shows an illustration of an orange rooted carrot. (A more detailed, academic discussion on the origins of the orange carrot is given in a separate museum page here.)  Also several more very early illustrations from illuminated manuscripts show orange rooted carrots - separate museum page here.

In 1682 Nehemiah Grew presented in a series of lectures to the Royal Society (UK) on the anatomy of plants with an idea of a philosophical history of plants,  wherein he referred to carrots with red and yellow roots with a sweetish taste and that when left in the open air, carrots become a reddish yellow (orange?).

The first recorded use of orange as a colour name in English was in 1512, in a will now filed with the Public Record Office. Before this word was introduced to the English-speaking world, the colour was referred to as ġeolurēad (yellow-red). (Source: Oxford English Dictionary,2011.) So it is quite possible that orange carrot did exist in the late 1400's but that there was no word in existence to describe them accurately.

One of the first written evidences of an orange carrot, particularly written in English (and therefore cannot be misinterpreted during translation) is Hortus Medicus Edinburgensis – A Catalogue of plants in the Physical Garden at Edinburgh by James Sutherland intendent of said garden in 1683. 

Another reference appears in 1683 - John Reid's "Scots Gard'ner" full text here. "orenge carrot".  Reid also refers to "Of currans, the great red-Dutch, the white-Dutch, the great black."  Currans is the old Gaelic name for carrots. "Beetraves, parsneeps, carrots, are very good served up whole, or sliced about meat, also turneeps, with fat broth poured thereon."

This work makes reference to Orange, Red, Yellow and White carrots, together with the common Wild Carrot. It and also distinguishes them from Parsnip as a separate plant. (See extract here). This is a very useful record as it shows what actually existed in the botanic garden in Edinburgh.

1677 - A Catalogue of Seeds, Plants &c Sold by Will’m: Lucas att the Naked Boy near Strand Bridge London (C. 1677) - Carrots, red, orang and yellow. (note: orang is how it was spelled) (full list here)

1679 - New England’s Rarities John Josselyn Gentleman - the book is of peculiar interest, for it contains the first published lists of English plants that would thrive in America. An extract from that list - Carrots in the new world

“Cabbidge growes there exceeding well

Lettice Parsley, Marygold, French Mallowes, Chervil, Burnet,

Winter Savory, Summer Savory, Time, Sage, Carrots.

Parsnips of a prodigous size, Red Beetes, Radishes Purslain" ( more detail here - https://archive.org/details/newenglandsrarit01joss)

1688 Systema horti-culturae or The Art of Gardening By John Woolridge, Gent - "There are two sorts of them, the Yellow, and the Orange, or more red: the last of which is by much the better."

It also lists seeds available for sale, and again Orange Carrots receive a mention, here. (p271)

John Worlidge or John Woolridge (1640–1700) was a noted British agriculturalist, who lived in Petersfield, Hampshire, England. He was considered a great expert on rural affairs, and one of the first British agriculturalists to discuss the importance of farming as an industry. Worlidge's Systema Agriculturæ, or the Mystery of Husbandry discovered ... by J. W., Gent., was first published in 1668.

There is one compelling argument for a much earlier, near eastern origin in the Byzantine illustration in the Dioscorides codex, drawn in 512 ad which shows a carrot plant with a thick, orange coloured root, indicating that carotene cultivars already existed at that time. (photo left below, click to view a larger version). In fact it is considered very likely that this Vienna Codex was copied from a much earlier manuscript, perhaps an illustrated manuscript owned by Theodosius II.(408-450 A.D.)


Byzantine Illustration ad 512 - Orange rooted carrot MS Bodley 130 - 11th century script - Pseudo Apuleian text
Byzantine illustration 512 a.d. 11th century script
There is subsequently an 11th century manuscript (known as Pseudo.-Apuleius, Dioscorides) which also shows an orange rooted variety. (above right) (modern translation here)

Whatever the origins, the Long Orange Dutch cultivar, is commonly held to be the progenitor of the orange Horn carrot varieties (Early Scarlet Horn, Early Half Long, Late Half Long). All modern, western carotene varieties ultimately descend from these varieties. The Horn Carrot derives from the Netherlands town of Hoorn in the neighbourhood of which it was probably developed. Horenshce Wortelen (carrots of Hoorn) were common on the Amsterdam market in 1610.  The earliest English seedsmen list Early Horn and Long Orange varieties.

A further very early manuscript clearly shows an orange root, from Germany. Adam Lonitzer a German botanist, noted for his 1577 revised version of Eucharius Rösslin’s herbal, wrote Kreuterbuch including -  "Pastenachen Mören Pastinaca sativa, & sylvestris". Photo, compliments of the Smithsonian Digital Collection of Early manuscripts. click on picture for full page.

Adam Lonitzer - Early Orange Carrot Illustration

Adam Lonitzer - Frankfurt 1582

First cultivation in England - Carrot was first generally cultivated in England in the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1 (1533-1603), being introduced by the FlemGerard's Yellow Carrot 1633ings, who took refuge from the persecutions of Philip II of Spain, and who, finding the soil about Sandwich peculiarly favourable for it, grew it there largely. The vegetable was a firm favourite of Queen Elizabeth 1 of England. It seems royalty really got the ball rolling when a deputy to the English court presented Queen Elizabeth I with a tub of butter and a wreath of tender carrots emblazoned with diamonds. Lore has it that she removed the diamonds and sent the carrots and butter to the kitchen. They returned as the classic side dish: buttered carrots.

Carrots were slowly accepted for culinary usage during Elizabethan times. The yellow varieties were more popular as the purple strains turned brown and mushy when cooked.

This recipe for Carrot Sauce appears in 1570 in the  cookbook "Opera dell'arte del cucinare" by  Bartolomeo Scappi a famous Renaissance chef. The first known fact in his life is April 1536, when he organized a banquet while he was in the service of Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio. He served several other cardinals after this, then began to serve pope Pius IV, entering the service of the Vatican kitchen. He continued to work as a chef for the pope Pius V  He acquired fame in 1570 when his cookbook was published. In the book he lists approximately 1000 recipes of the Renaissance cuisine and describes cooking techniques and tools, giving the first known picture of a fork.

Carrot Sauce

 Italy 1570 (Scappi, 92v) Bartolomeo Scappi. Opera. Venice, 1570.

Chose the most coloured part of the carrot, which is cleaned, and let it cook more than half way in water. Next take it out, put it in an earthenware pot and for every pound of carrots place seven ounces of sugar and four of quince, half an ounce of cinnamon, a quarter of pepper, a quarter of cloves and nutmeg, and boil everything together with 10 ounces of clear verjuice, and 4 ounces of rose vinegar, and when it’s cooked pass it through a sieve. This sauce should have a bit of body, and after it’s sieved, let it cool and serve.

(Verjuice (or Vergis) = juice of unripe grapes - "verjuice",  (or sometimes crabapples). It was used in recipes to provide tartness, much as lemon juice is used modernly.)Source - Cooking in Europe – 1250-1650 Ken Albala

In 1598, Juan de Oñate, descendant of a wealthy mining family in Zacatecas, Mexico, won the contract to settle New Mexico. Oñate's expedition was a fully fledged colonising enterprise, and the introduction of new animals and plants was an important part of the plan.  Various accounts credit Oñate with the introduction to Mexico of carrots (amongst other vegetables and a variety of herbs and spices). By the 1600's carrots along with cabbages, onions, and garlic were growing on many of the Caribbean  islands.  It was even found growing on an island off the coast of Venezuela when it was discovered in 1565.

In 1602 Holland they banned plums, spinach and cucumbers and it wasn’t allowed to preserve (keep) the leaves of carrots and radishes, “because it was understood that the infection is most attached thereto.” Quote comes from renowned historian Jan Wagenaar (Amsterdam 1709-1773)

17th Century - Both yellow and purple varieties were grown in Europe until the 17th century. As vegetables were at that time rather scarce in England, the Carrot's delicious root was warmly welcomed and became a general favourite, its cultivation spreading over the country.  

In the 1600's, in England, carrots were common enough to be grown as a farm crop as well as in small garden plots and mentioned in several written works. The chronology of garden seed growing from the seventeenth century  showed specialization and innovation in garden seeds first appearing first at Sandwich. Low Countries' gardeners who settled there from the middle of the sixteenth century developed local strains of beans, peas, radish, and carrot, some of which were sent to London as seeds along with other garden seeds. Just when the area began to send seeds to London is difficult to determine but production was under way early in the seventeenth century. The Sandwich Carrot was recognized for its excellence in 1610, and in the 1630's large quantities of peas and beans were grown there by the Dutch, possibly for seed.

This century saw improved strains resulting in three main varieties, the yellow, red and deep gold. During this time carrots slowly gained acceptance as a vegetable to accompany boiled beef. Carrots were assumed to have aphrodisiac qualities.

Picture showing carrot leaves in a hatIn the reign of James I, (1603)  it became the fashion for ladies to use flowers, fruit, feathers and the like to decorate their clothes. This was amusingly extended to the use of Wild Carrot flowers and its feathery leaves and stalks to decorate their hair, hats, sleeves, dresses and coats. The lacy green foliage  was especially fashionable during the autumn months when the leaves took on a reddish colouration.   "the light feathery verdure of which caused them to be no contemptible substitute for the plumage of birds."

Parkinson, the celebrated botanist to King James mentions "that in his day, ladies wore carrot leaves in place of feathers. In winter, an elegant chimney ornament is sometimes formed, by cutting off a section from the head or thick end of a carrot, containing the bud, and placing it in a shallow vessel with water. Young and delicate leaves unfold themselves, forming a radiated tuft, of a very handsome appearance, and heightened by contrast with the season of the year."

The term Victory Garden was nothing new - In 1603 Richard Gardner wrote Victory Garden - "If any citie or  towne should be besieged with the enemy   what better provision for the greatest number of people  can be than every garden be sufficiently planted with carrots”

1607 saw the publication of Sir John Norden’s Surveyor’s Dialogue. Norden’s work contains many judicious observations on the “different natures of grounds, how they may be employed, how they may be bettered, reformed and amended.”

The famous meadows near Salisbury are mentioned, where, when cattle have fed their fill, hogs, it is said, “are made fat with the remnant–namely, with the knots and sappe of the grasse.” “Clover grasse, or the grasse honey suckle” (white clover), is directed to be sown with other hay seeds. “Carrot rootes” were then raised in several parts of England, and sometimes by farmers.

1609 - It was grown by the struggling colonists of the first permanent English settlement in the New World, at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1609. They planted cucumbers at the same time. English carrots were first to be introduced into the colonies accompanying colonists to Jamestown in 1609. and early Pilgrims to Massachusetts no later than 1629 where they “grew bigger and sweeter” than anything found in England. Dutch Mennonites brought orange and scarlet carrots with them into Pennsylvania, from whence they slowly spread through the rest of the colonies.  Strictly the settlement was actually 1607.

Giacomo Castelvetro writes in The Fruits, Herbs & Vegetables of Italy (1614): “We prepare salads from pink and yellow carrots, roasted or boiled in the same way, and turnips as well."

In 1615 John Murrell wrote  "A new booke of Cookerie; London " which included several recipes requiring carrot root - To boyle the common way; To boyle a Rabbet with Claret Wine; and Giblets with Hearbes, and Rootes (shown below with other recipes).  Many sallets (salads) in the17th century are boiled….some into dishes that seem familiar now, but we just don’t call them salads, we just call them ‘vegetables’ or ‘side dishes’ or just ‘sides’.

To boyle a Rabbet with Claret Wine. Use it as before is shewed, slice Onyons and a Carrot-root, a few Currins, and a Fagot of Hearbes, minst Parsley, Barberryes pickt, large Mace, Nutmeg, and Ginger: throw them all into the Pipkin. Boyle it with halfe a pound of Butter.

Giblets with Hearbes, and Rootes. Pricke and parboyle them, and put them in a quart of claret wine into a Pipkin, halfe an ounce of sugar, a good quantitie of Barberryes, Spinage, and a Fagot of sweet Hearbes, boyld Turnups, and Carrots sliced, and put them into the Pipkin, and boyle them well together: then take strong broth, Vergis, and the yolkes of two or three new layd Egges: straine them, and put them into the Pipkin. 
(Vergis = juice of unripe grapes - "verjuice",  (or sometimes crabapples). It was used in recipes to provide tartness, much as lemon juice is used modernly.)

Boyled Sallets. Scrape boyld Carrets, being ready to eate, and they will be like the pulp of a roasted Apple, season them with a little Sinamon, Ginger, and Sugar, put in a handfull of Currans, a little Vinegar, a peece of sweet Butter, put them into a Dish, but first put in another peece of Butter, that they burne not to the bottome: then stew your rootes in the Dish a quarter of an houre: if they beginne to drie, put in more Butter: if they be too sweete, put in a little more Vinegar. The same way you may make a Sallet of Beetes, Spinnage, or Lettuce boyled: beate any of these tender, like the pulp of a roasted Apple, and use them as before shewed.”

(Source - Murrell, John. The Second Booke of Cookerie. 1638: London: fifth impression. Stuart Press (tran) 1993. pp.24-5.)

Murrel 1638 boile carrot salad recipe


"The English Huswife" also appeared in 1615 - Containing the inward and outward Vertues which ought to be in a Compleat Woman"  by Gervase Markham. Two references appear -

Of sallets simple and plain - First then to speak of Sallets, there be some simple, some compounded, some only to furnish out the Table, and some both for use and adornation: your simple Sallets are Chibols pilled, washt clean, and half of the green tops cut clean away, and so served on a fruit dish, or Chives, Scallions, Rhaddish roots, boyled Carrets, Skirrets and Turnips, with such like served up simply:

Sallets for shew only - Now for Sallets for shew only, and the adorning and setting out of a Table with number of dishes, they be those which are made of Carret roots of sundry colours well boyled, and cut into many shapes and proportions, as some into Knots, some in the manner of Scutchions, and Arms, some like Birds, and some like Wild beasts, according to the Art and cunning of the Workman, and these for the most part are seasoned with Vinegar, Oyl, and a little Pepper. A World of other Sallets there are, which time and experience may bring to our House-wifes eye, but the composition of them, and the serving of them, differeth nothing from these already rehearsed. (source)

The "Ouverture de Cuisine" by Lancelot de Casteau, Liège, 1604, refers to a list of things that you need to have for the kitchen - Roots of fennel. Roots of parsnip. Yellow roots. Red roots. Some turnips. Salsify roots. ...

It is highly likely that that red roots referred to are carrots, as other red rooted items (radish and beet) are mentioned separately.  The red roots are also mentioned in a recipe for Venison Hotchpotch. Loose English translation - http://www.medievalcookery.com/notes/ouverture.html

gravestone headstone cemetery 1610

Two gravestones (above) dated 1610/1609 include carrot images on gravestones, located in Broek op Langendijk (the name of the village in Holland). Carrots, a string of onions, and a beet show that agriculture has been practised here for centuries.

It is mentioned appreciatively by Shakespeare in The Merry Wives of Windsor.

A very charming, fern-like decoration can be obtained if the thick end of a large carrot is cut off and placed in a saucer of water in a warm place; the young and delicate leaves soon begin to sprout and form a pretty tuft of verdant green.  In later times carrots became popular with Puritans who encouraged the growing of all root vegetables.

At that time, doctors prescribed carrots for everything from sexual maladies to snakebite which some would argue are biblically connected.

European "herbalists" flourished in the 16th century. Renaissance and herbalism also included the curious Doctrine of Signatures that prescribed heart shaped leaves for heart ailments, suggestively shaped roots (like carrot) for reproductive disorders and so on. This system rose independently in many cultures and occasionally proved effective. See more Herbal references on the Herbalists page here.

Also 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. Source - Cooking in Europe – 1250-1650 Ken Albala

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

In 1629, four years after the death of Queen Anne, John Parkinson published his monumental "Great Herbal," an encyclopaedia of all the plants then known. Parkinson says that the carrot's fine-textured leaves:

"... in Autumne will turn to be of a fine red or purple (the beautie whereof allureth many Gentlewomen oftentimes to gather the leaves, and stick them in their hats ... in stead of feathers.)"

In 1633 John Gerard's "Herball or General Historie of Plantes" refers to "Pastinaca sativa tenuifolia, Pastinaca sativa atro-rubens. - Carrots. The root of the yellow Carrot is most commonly boiled with fat flesh and eaten... The red Carrot is of like facultie with the yellow."   

The Wild Carrot, Daucus Carota, became known as Queen Anne's Lace, oddly enough at the time of Queen Anne (1655-1714) and the wild carrot so called remains today, although the name is of American origin. See more on the wild carrot page.

Samuel Hartlib in 1651 wrote in his "Legacy of Husbandry" - "Some old men in Surrey, where it flourisheth very much at present ; report That they knew the first Gardiners that came into those parts to plant Cabages, Colleflowers, and to sow Turneps, Carrets, and Parsnips, to sow Raith (or early ripe) Pease. Rape, all which at that time were great rarities, we having few or none in England, but what came from Holland and Flanders.

Ladie Borlase’s Receiptes Booke, an English manorial and culinary manuscript, has been in existence for over 300 years. This manuscript, bearing dates from 1665 to 1822, provides a unique compendium of culinary history that opens a window to the aristocratic, social, agricultural, horticultural, economic, and medicinal aspects of English country life. The Borlase manuscript is a kind of miscellany. Included are recipes not only for all kinds of foods but also for distilled waters, remedies, dyes, soaps, and perfumes. A housewife of that period was responsible for keeping her family healthy and her house clean and sweet smelling, and so the manuscript features directions for preparing medicinal oyles, waters, glysters ,powders,ballsoms, a true Majistery ,and a julep, with healing powers for a number of ailments from apoplexy and gout to cancer and the plague. The cookery recipes concentrate almost entirely on sweets and meats with only a few mentions of vegetables.

One of the most powerful reasons that vegetable consumption grew at this time was the effect of published cookery and household management books that told people of some wealth "what they should be wearing, sitting on, hanging on the wall, planting in the garden ... what they should eat and how it must be prepared and planted." These books not only taught people about proper food presentations, they also rescued a number of poor people's vegetables and made them viable for any upper-class home. Examples of these types of lower-class vegetables are the root vegetables: carrots, turnips, parsnips, and beets.

Taking a poor person's vegetable and preparing it in a French fashion would certainly enhance its reputation. Still, carrots and other root vegetables (and not the expensive out-of-season vegetables so desired by the gentry) would be important staples in keeping the poor fed. Even into the middle years of the eighteenth century, a distinguished gardener noted that carrots "provided great comfort to the poor."

Ladie Borlase's Receiptes Booke 1621-1685 - To Make Carrot Fritters

Take 2 or 3 Carrots boyled tender then Rubb them through A hair Sive put to Every Carrot 2 or 3 Yolks of Eggs and the whites of 21 and a little Nuttmegg and to 3 Carrots put a little handfull of flower and wett them with Cream or Sack and as much Sugar as will sweeten them beat them half an hour and fry them as you do other fritters when you send up Scrape a Little Sugar and Oringe.

Physicall and chyrurgicall receipts. Cookery and preserves. 1654 - To Stew Carrots

(Eliz. Jacob 1654 on the fifth leaf. Though the beginnings of both sections are written by Elizabeth Jacob, there are many additions by other and later hands, especially by the writer of a neat upright script, which can perhaps be dated c. 1685. - source Wellcome Library)

to stew carrots 1654

1654. Bradford, William. Garden Verses - Massachusetts Historical Society.

” All sorts of roots and herbs in gardens grow,

Parsnips, carrots, turnips, or what you’ll sow,

Onions, melons, cucumbers, radishes,

Skirrets, beets, coleworts, and fair cabbages.”

William Bradford (March 19, 1590 – May 9, 1657) was an English Separatist leader of settlers at Plymouth Colony.

Three 17th Century recipes - (From Garden of Herbs 1921 – Eleanour Rohde)

1654 Joseph Cooper, Cook to Charles I - "SOUP DE SANTE FOR FISH DAYS"  -  Take Celery, Endive, Sorrel, a little Chevril and cabbage-lettuce well picked and washed, mince them down with a knife squeeze the water from them, put them into a saucepan, toss them up in Butter with a little Onion, take off all the fat, then put to them a little water from boiled Peas, and let them boil till they are tender; then put in half-a-spoonful of flower and keep moving it till it is brown. Then put in some good Fishbroth and a glass of wine, season it with Salt, pepper, an onion stuck with cloves, shred Parsley and a faggot of savoury Herbs, lay in the middle of your Soop-dish a French roll fried having taken the crumb out at the bottom, cover the Bottom of your dish with the crust of French Rolls, set it over a chafing-dish of coals, lay the herbs upon them and then pour the soop upon your crusts and herbs, let it stand a while to simmer, and soak the Bread. Garnish it with Turnips and Carrots andbunch of carrots serve it up hot. (From The Cook's Receipt Book of 1654.)

1655 The Cook to Queen Henrietta Maria, produced this recipe - "SPINAGE POTTAGE" -  Take nothing but the Heart, or Soundest Part of the Spinage ; mince it fine, and stew it in a Pipkin with Pease-soop, an onion stuck with Cloves, a , and other Seasoning Ingredients. Set your Crusts a soaking, scrape in some Parmesan, and dress your Pottage : Garnish it with Sticks of Cinnamon roundabout, and lay one in the middle, orfry'd Bread or an Onion. (The Queen's Closet Opened, by W. M,,  1655.)

1682 - "PUDDING OF CARROT" -  Pare off some of the crust of Manchet bread and grate off half as much of the rest as there is of the root, which must also be grated. Then take half a pint of half Cream or New Milk half a Pound of fresh Butter Six new laid Eggs (taking out three of the Whites) mash and mingle them well with the Cream and Butter. Then put in the grated Bread and with near half a Pound of Sugar and a little Salt ; some grated Nutmeg and beaten Spice and pour all into a convenient dish or pan buttered to keep the ingredients from sticking or burning; set it in a quick oven for about an Hour. And so have you a Composition for any Root Pudding. The Sauce is a little rose-water with Butter beaten together and sweetened with the Sugar Caster. (Giles Rose, one of the Master Cooks to Charles II, 1682.)

Nicholas Culpeper (1653) said of carrots that "Wild carrots belong to Mercury, and expel wind and remove stitches in the side, promote the flow of urine and women's courses, and break and expel the stone; the seed has the same effect and is good for dropsy, and those whose bowels are swollen with wind: It cures colic, stone, and rising of the mother; being taken in wine or boiled in wine and taken, it helpeth conception. The leaves being applied with honey to running sores or ulcers cleanse them; I suppose the seeds of them perform this better than the roots: and though Galen recommended garden carrots highly to expel wind, yet they breed it first, and we may thank nature for expelling it, not they; for the seeds of them expel wind and so mend what the root marreth."

1657 - Medical Dispensatory of the whole Body Physick, discovering the Naturesmedical dispensatory 1657 carrots, daucus carret, Properties and Vertues of vegetables minerals & Animals -  By The illustrious Renodeus, Chief Physician to the Monarch of France.

Transcript of image (right):

This name Daucus comprehends thee sorts of plants under it. The first of that name is called Daucus absolutely and is meant of the Cretian Daucus, which according to Dioscorides hath leaves like fennel a stalk of nine inches  length, a head like coriander, a white flower, long seed like cumin, which is hirsute with white down. It is suaveolent (pleasant) in eating and is most frequently used in syrup of Mugwort and may be prosperously mixed with other medicaments. 

This Daucus not only grows in Crete but also in many other regions of Germany, Italy and Venetia; but in Cretian carries the name, though that which is brought from the Alps and Genoa be every whit as good. 

The second sort of Daucus is like Smallage but its acrimony is greater, its scent stronger and sapour (taste/flavour) hotter.

The third hath leaves like Coriander white flowers seed like Anise, but longer and sharper. There are other plants like this which are taken for it. Thus Theophrastus calls Carret, Daucus. Thus Wild Pastinaca and Caucalis borrow the denomination of Daucus.

Its seed, which is frequently used in medicine, calefies, siccates (dries), opens, incides, moves flowers and urine, and discusses flatuosity.

We have before treated of Smallage, whose seed is reckoned amongst the lesser Calesactives. 

Samuel Pepys Diary 1659 -

Feb 22nd 1659. In the morning intended to have gone to Mr. Crew's to borrow some money, but it raining I forbore, and went to my Lord's lodging and look that all things were well there. Then home and sang a song to my viall, so to my office and to Will's, where Mr. Pierce found me out, and told me that he would go with me to Cambridge, where Colonel Ayre's regiment, to which he was surgeon, lieth. Walking in the Hall, I saw Major-General Brown, who had along time been banished by the Rump, but now with his beard overgrown, he comes abroad and sat in the House. To my father's to dinner, where nothing but a small dish of powdered beef—[Boiled salt beef. To powder was to sprinkle with salt, and the powdering tub a vessel in which meat was salted.]—and dish of carrots; they being all busy to get things ready for my brother John to go to-morrow.

1660 - In "History of the Propagation and Improvement of vegetables" by Robert Sharrock,  from Oxford University Carrots appear in the Catalogue of plants which can be increased by seeds - (note for' f' read 's')

Many times they fow divers feeds in a bed together as Radifhes and Carrots , that by fuch time as the Carrots come up, the Radifh; may be gone. in March or April (or according to some with us , from the beginning of February ; or if the Frosts breake, any time in January) Carrot, Radish, Tobacco, Fennel , Cresses, Skirrets are ordinarily Sowen.

Upon beds newly fet with Licorice they fow Onions or Radifh , or Lettice if their Licorice plants or ground be but weak 3 fo as not quickly to caufe a fhadow with their leaves. London Gardiners fow Radifh, Lettice, Parfley , Carrots, on the fame bed , gathering each in their feafons , and leaving the Parfneps till the Winter.

Carrots are plucked up when they are an inch Diameter at the head, for then they are of use, or (sooner, if the thickness of their standing require it ; and this is general for all Roots, Parsneps, Radish, Skirrets, that grow by Seed: Some sow (as I mentioned above) Parsneps, Carrots, Radish, and Salad Herbs in the same bed first Sifting out the Sallad Herbs and Radish then the Carrots as they grow, leeaving the Parsneps till Winter.

1661 - The new found arte of setting of corne, Sir Hugh Platt  "dibbing as superior to broadcast sowing. He traces the origin of the practice to the accident of a silly wench, who deposited some seeds of wheat in holes intended for carrots."

1665 saw the publication of The Compleat Herball by Robert Lovell of Oxford containing "the summe of ancient and moderne authors, based on observations from the Physick garden in Oxford."  This again appears to be a reworking of earlier works with a few enhancements. An extract from the work is given here (pdf).

During the English Civil War a soldier of Cromwell's named Valentine Greatrakes  entered the service of the Parliament; but, on the Restoration, being thrown on his own resources, he found himself inspired from Heaven to effect cures by prayer and touching; but soon advanced to all other infirmities.

By 1666 he had achieved an enormous reputation for his great "cures" of disease by the laying of hands, and the cure of scrofula with the application of a carrot poultice. However his was dismissed as a "quack" doctor, partly because the cure of that ailment was reserved for the touch of Royalty! He claimed to cures many conditions by the laying of hands and was classed as a charlatan, even though the carrot poultice probably worked!

1669 witnessed the publication of the "Closet Opened of Sir Kenelme Digby", "with excellent directions for cookery" including several recipes with carrots - metheglin (mead), pottage, hotchpot and a broth for sick and convalescent persons. This delicious book comes with a witty introduction, a glossary, several useful appendices, including biographical sketches of the aristocratic contributors, and some modernised versions of Sir Kenelme's more accessible recipes.

There can be no better way to get inside the skin of a seventeenth century gentleman, to feel at first hand the "rawness and indigence of the stomach", the pains of "Gravel", stone, and "colick" and the virtue of fierce herbs coursing through the veins. Sir Kenelme was very much interested in the medicinal side of cooking. The sudden death of his wife Venetia was put down to the drinking of "Viper wine" and one can only suppose that this was one of his less successful recipes!!

Nederlantsen Hovenier – the Dutch Gardener was published in 1669 - “Gardener to the Illustrious Highness the Lord Prince of Orange.”
J van de Groen's book was a manual full of advice concerning the good conduct of horticultural work during all seasons. It made reference to the wild carrot, yellow carrot and sweet carrot. The full book is available on line here. The full extract concerning carrots is here (pdf).

gardener to prince of orange  1669 geele peen The rough translation is:

Geele Peën (Yellow roots/carrots or vice versa)

These are sown in the beginning of March, to acquire (harvest) them early/ and one (people) thin them/ that they stand from each other the width of a hand/ but winter carrots (roots) were sown in May, to store them in winter/ (of) those the foliage is cut of/ before it sprouts/ they will want to be sown in sulphur(rich)earth.

From the 1670's  seedsmen commonly gave away free with each order of these seeds, a 'paper of directions' giving brief instructions on cultivation. It is reasonable to suppose that some gentlemen first came into contact with these field crops by going to a seedsman for garden seeds or receiving by post a new edition of a catalogue. The printed directions bolstered the confidence of uncertain innovators and, like trade cards and other printed ephemera produced by seedsmen, advertised the business.

Some garden vegetables were tried in fields for animal fodder. The turnip was the most successful of these transplants, shifting in men's minds in the first half of the eighteenth century from a garden to a field crop. Carrots and cabbages followed the turnip more cautiously into the fields aided, no doubt, by the availability of seeds and advice from seedsmen.  See the full details of Mr Digby and his recipes here.

1675 saw the publication of "The Queene Like Closet" - OR Rich Cabinet: Stored with all manner of Rare Receipts (recipeThe Queene Like Closet Frontispiece 1675s) For Preserving, Candying and Cookery. Very Pleasant and Beneficial to all Ingenious Persons of the Female Sex." Hannah Wooley.

143. To make good cold Sallads of several things.

Take either Coleflowers, or Carrots, or Parsneps, or Turneps after they are well boiled, and serve them in with Oil, Vinegar and Pepper, also the Roots of red Beets boiled tender are very good in the same manner.

153.To Candy Carrot Roots.

Take of the best and Boil them tender then pare them, and cut them in such pieces as you like; then take fine Sugar boiled to a Candy height with a little Water, then put in your Roots, and boil them till you see they will Candy; but you must first boil them with their weight in Sugar and some Water, or else they will not be sweet enough; when they are enough, lay them into a Box, and keep them dry: thus you may do green Peascods when they are very young, if you put them into boiling water, and let them boil close covered till they are green, and then boiled in a Syrup, and then the Candy, they will look very finely, and are good to set forth Banquets, but have no pleasant taste.

191. To boil a Rabbit with Claret Wine.

Boil a Rabbet as before, then slice Onions and a Carrot root, a few Currans and a Fagot of sweet herbs, and a little Salt, minced Parsley, Barberries picked, large Mace, Nutmeg and Ginger, put all these into a Pipkin with the Rabbet, half a Pound of Butter, and a Pint of Claret Wine, and let them boil together till it be enough, then serve it upon Sippets.

Source - http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/14377/pg14377-images.html

1676 - Thomas Sydenham (10 September 1624 – 29 December 1689) was an English physician. He was the author of Observationes Medicae which became a standard textbook of medicine for two centuries so that he became known as 'The English Hippocrates'. Among his many achievements was the discovery of a disease, Sydenham's Chorea, also known as St Vitus Dance.

His Observationes medicae was published in December 1676 and its 470 pages of text are largely descriptions of the epidemics Sydenham witnessed in London between 1661 (when he would already have been about thirty-seven years of age) and 1675.

His work "Processus Integri" - Complete methods of curing of most diseases included a dissertation on bloody urine from a stone in the kidneys and the inclusion of carrots in the list of weaker dissolvants of the stone - image below.

Sydenham makes many references to Theriac and Venetian Treacle both of which were a compound of over 40 items including "the seeds of the Cretan Carrot".  Theriaca Andromachi. Formula of the Pharmacopoeia Londinensis, A.I). 1682.  over 40 ingredients including “seeds of the carrot crete”  The History of Theriac here - https://www.historyonthenet.com/theriac-historys-amazing-wonder-drug


thomas sydenham 1676

Source: The works of Thomas Sydenham, M.D. by Sydenham, Thomas, 1624-1689; Greenhill, William Alexander, 1814-1894; Latham, R. G. (Robert Gordon), 1812-1888


Download PDF here - https://ia902703.us.archive.org/25/items/worksofthomassyd01sydeiala/worksofthomassyd01sydeiala_bw.pdf

English Cookery and Medicine Book 1677-1711 Folger Shakespeare Library - A carrot pie

Carrot Pie Pye 1677

Transcription -

A Carrot Pye

Take your carrots boyle and peale them then take a pound of butter and put half of it at the bottom of the pye then lay in your carrot then take your seasoning which is 3 or 4 sticks of cinnamon 7 or 8 corns of peper 8 or 9 cloves, a blade of mace or two mix this with the sugar and salt and strew it in; take the yolks of 4 eggs boyled hard Cittron (lemon apple?) sliced thinn a lemon and lay it in and put in some marrow then put in the rest of the butter on the top and when you put it in the oven put in a quarter of a pint of White Wine and when it is baked take half a pint and the yolks of 2 eggs and it little sugar heat it but not boyle it then shake it in the pye.

John Reid's "The Scots Gard'ner" together with "The Gard'ers Kalendar" 1683 John Reid's The Scots Gard'ner" together with "The Gard'ers Kalendar" 1683 gave advice on planting vegetables throughout the year, month by month for the climate of Scotland. Figure (below right) shows the entry for February. Note that there is a clear distinction between carrots and parsnips.  Further advice was given on the use of garden fruits and herbs.  A very early reference to orange carrots is also included - 

To know what fruits and herbes to make choise of for our plantations : The black scorzorena and orenge carrot: the small round smooth turneep ; smooth Dutch parsneep, and small radish, clear as chrystall.

Uses for carrot - Boyl and peel parsneeps, chop and bruise them well, powre on butter, and set them on a coal, and, if you please, strew a little cinnamon upon them. Carrots are so used, or only dished by shavers.

Beetraves, parsneeps, carrots, are very good served upwhole, or sliced about meat, also turneeps, with fat broth poured thereon.

Also in 1683 Thomas Tryon in "Way to Health, Long Life and Happiness" states - "The Colour of Carrots do declare that there is an excellent Vertue in them".

1685 - The Accomplisht Cook or the Art and Mystery of Cookery, by Robert May "Wherein the whole ART is reveathe accompisht cook 1685 carrot soop soupled in a more easie and perfect Method, than hath been publisht in any language." - this includes many references to carrots, both in sauces, stews, the dressing of ok cheeks (!) and as accompaniments for meat dishes.  This early reference to Carrot Soup (Soop!) (image right).  Full text here.

_Soops of Carrots._

Being boil'd, cleanse, stamp, and season them in all points as before; thus also potatoes, skirrets, parsnips, turnips, Virginia artichocks, onions, or beets, or fry any of the foresaid roots being boil'd and cleansed, or peeled, and floured, and serve them with beaten butter and sugar.

John Aubrey (1626–1697) noted in his memoranda "Carrots were first sown at Beckington in Somersetshire - " Some very old Man there [in 1668] did remember their first bringing hither. "

Carrots were note as growing on a field scale by John Aubrey at Beckingham in Somerset in 1684-5, Aubrey claimed that men remembered their being introduced into the parish in 1668, an acre of carrots were being grown in a field by Peter Cornelius (Dutch surname) at Hinton St George in Somerset in 1691.  Source - Alternative Agriculture: A History: From the Black Death to the Present Day By Joan Thirsk p 62

1687 - John Floter of Queens College Oxford wrote “Discovering the Vertues of Vegetables by their Tastes and Smells”.


In the section defining matters which are sweet he wrote:


“So from the different Sweet Tasted, you will find all the Principles of Plants to be latent in a Sweet Taste; which will appear from the Classes of Sweet Tastes: Category 2 – Sweet Aromaticks, in Carrotts and Parsneps – The sweet Aromaticks are nourishing and very grateful to the stomach.”


On Smells he writes that the smells of plants are either cool, temperate or hot.


“Wild Carrot tastes Sweet, Hot, and Aromatick in the Seeds, Leaves, and Roots: Therefore it is of the Sweet Aromatick Fennel Class; and has the same virtues, being Diuretick in the Stone and Stranguary, in the Carminative Colick externally and internally good in Hysterick fits; All which Effects it has from its Aromatick Oyl, and Sweet Tastes.”


Source Wellcome Library consulted September 2013.

An anonymous English Herbal of 1690 had this to say:

anonymous english herbbal 1690

John Evelyn (1620-1706), an English virtuoso and writer, was a pivotal figure in seventeenth-century intellectual life in England. He left an immensely rich literary heritage, which is of great significance for scholars interested in garden history and the histories of intellectual life and architecture. Evelyn thought the yellow carrots to be the most nutritious. Roots were also used to feed livestock and it was reputed that cattle fed on carrots produced a superior quality milk. This was later found to be just the opposite as the feeding of too many carrots leads to a bitter milk!  

We know it was the opinion of James II's head gardener that there should be at least thirty-five ingredients in an ordinary salad. Many roots were included, such as the elecampane, daisy, fennel, angelica, rampion, parsnip, carrot, and they were frequently blanched or candied, or simply boiled and added when cold or pickled. (From Garden of Herbs 1921 - Eleanour Rohde)

In 1699 John Evelyn published "Acetaria: A Discourse of Sallets", a book of directions for gardening and cooking. He was famous for his "Diary" and was a friend and contemporary of Samuel Pepys. Both were conscientious public servants who had held minor offices in the government. But, while Pepys' diary is sparkling and redolent of the free manners of the Restoration, Evelyn's is the record of a sober, scholarly man. His mind turned to gardens, sculpture and architecture, rather than to the gaieties of contemporary social life.  Here's what the work told us about carrots:

13. Carrots, Dauci, or Pastinaca Sativa; temperately warm and dry, Spicy; the best are yellow, very nourishing; let them be rais'd in Ground naturally rich, but not too heavy.

26. Pudding of Carrot. Pare off some of the Crust of Manchet-Bread, and grate of half as much of the rest as there is of the Root, which must also be grated: Then take half a Pint of fresh Cream or New Milk, half a Pound of fresh Butter, six new laid Eggs (taking out three of the Whites) mash and mingle them well with the Cream and Butter: Then put in the grated Bread and Carrot, with near half a Pound of Sugar; and a little Salt; some grated Nutmeg and beaten Spice; and pour all into a convenient Dish or Pan, butter'd, to keep the Ingredients from sticking and burning; set it in a quick Oven for about an Hour, and so have you a Composition for any Root-Pudding.

45. Parsnep, Pastinaca, Carrot: first boil'd, being cold, is of it self a Winter-Sallet, eaten with Oyl, Vinegar, &c. and having something of Spicy, is by some, thought more nourishing than the Turnep.

John Evelyn’s Kalendarium Hortense,  or Gard'ners Almanac of 1699,  (below left) gave directions on what the gardener is to do throughout the year. It describes the correct methods of sowing and tending for carrots on a monthly basis throughout the year, recommending sowing seeds in February and March and then in August he recommended "to strip down the leaves of carrots to improve the roots ".

john evelyn gardeners almanac kalendarium hortense 1699 carrots john evelyn gardeners almanac kalendarium hortense 1699 carrots february

A Cookery Book by Mary Bent (1664-1729), held in the Wellcome Library, UK shows this interesting recipe "To Pickle Carrats and Turnips".

pickle carrots mary bent 1190

A Cookery Book, with a few medical receipts (recipes). Inside the upper cover and on the recto of the first leaf is the name 'I. Bent' stamped in red: at the bottom of the verso of the last leaf the signature of 'Mary Bent 1664', who is perhaps the original compiler. MS1127

To Pickle Carrots and Turnips

Take your Turnips and cut them in slices or in what forme you please then you must take a Pickle of Vinegar peper Salt nuttmeg grated a piece of Ginger stem a few cloves and mace. So make your Pickle then take some very good Sanders (a red dye) and boyle in your Pickle and strain then boyle your Turnips till they are Red through then take them of and put them in together for keeps for yourself.

John Fryer who travelled through India and Persia between 1672 to 1681 noted that CarSalmon Pudding recipe 1695rots grew in Persia.(Laufer)

In Huishoudelijk Woordenboek (Domestic Dictionary), the most popular encyclopedia for agriculture and domestic use from the eighteenth century, the author  Noel Chomel (1632-1712) describes no less than five common species of (ordinary) yellow carrots. First Chomel cites the most common type Leidsche geele (Leyden yellow) and the fifth and last place is for the little orange coloured carrot, commonly called early Hoornsche carrot. The Leiden and Hoornsche carrot differ in shape, size, flavour and colour.

The small Hoornsche is less in demand by the commoner people) than the coarser Leiden type. Because of the short growing season, and the fact that Hoornsche carrots are tasty and very pleasing to the eye, and pleasant at the tables and tongues of the upper class bourgeoisie gives it an advantage. Chomel classifies the carrots from Hoorn as exclusive than the popular carrot that grows in the vicinity of Leiden. Chomel also describes the most common preparation methods for the common carrot, which is braised in pieces but also cooked with braised beef or mutton and much used in hutspot (hotchpot) from Gelderland. Young Hoornse small carrots, according Chomel, are the tastiest in soup.

In William Salmon’s work – “The family dictionary or household companion” 1695, he likens red carrots to beets, which at that time were carrot shaped until later selected out for roundness; he treated red rooty beets and red carrots almost interchangeable in his pudding recipe. This book is both cookery book and a compendium of information for the homemaker. (extract above right)


History Wild Carrot Today Nutrition Cultivation Recipes Trivia Links Home ContactSITE SEARCH