The rainbow carrot is the latest flavour of summer. It looks just like any other red or orange carrot, except it is coloured rainbow! These are a bit rarer than usual and are grown chiefly in America. They have small round carrots that contain a lot of seeds but their colour is quite distinct and they look great in salads.
When you buy a rainbow carrot it will have a small circle of seeds in the middle. If there is an overabundance of seeds this means it was over-caught and the crop will have a lower quality than normal. Normally rainbow carrots will have a ring of colour around the seeds. Usually this is a cream or pale yellow. There are also a smell and taste to them and they can be eaten raw or cooked.
Rainbow carrots are thought to be related to an imported Carrot family, but there is no real evidence to prove this. If it is a Carrot family member then the chances are it came from southern Europe. It is not actually the carrot, it's a vegetable with similar flesh and fleshy leaves. The rainbow carrot has become popular in America and many supermarkets now sell them in various forms - boiled, fried, grilled, stewed, etc.
The rainbow carrot is now the most popular vegetable in the UK. The range of colours has increased dramatically over recent years and is a great culinary addition to any table. The rainbow carrot is now used in salads, sprinkled on stews or eaten plain as a snack. You can even buy them in shops and in supermarkets that offer organic and free-range foods. They can be stored easily without spoiling.
You can eat your rainbow carrot with or without the seeds. The seeds are very small so will not make a difference to the taste, but you may prefer the smaller cooked variety. When eating rainbow carrot freshly from the garden, the tiny seeds are a welcome sight after eating the larger, dull carrot seeds.
The best way to eat your rainbow carrot is straight from the garden or a supermarket packet, but if you don't have time, there is no harm in grating it. They can be sprinkled on or eaten as they are. The best way to eat your rainbow carrot is with a little salt, to add some crunch and texture. Try serving rainbow carrot sandwiches with bread or baked potatoes, or with Carrot Cake or Ice Cream. Add some carrot juice to cool the carrot juice before serving with fruit like cherries, strawberries or oranges to cut the level of sweetener.
There are various other colours of carrot but the rainbow carrot is probably my favourite. It's widely available and not too expensive. It has slightly sharper colours than the average carrot, is more uniform in shape with no spots or ragged patches and has the wonderful seeds. In the winter the natural rainbow carrot flower heads into hibernation.
When the weather starts to get colder I try to get hold of a young plant, so the flower head doesn't get spindly. Unfortunately for me it's a horrible cold winter for northern Britain, so I'm lucky to get hold of a couple of plants in the spring. Rainbow carrot flowers head out across Britain in late autumn, but can be found in early spring along the coastal path from Brighton to Kent. It's possible to grow your own rainbow carrot and eat the lovely sweet tasting flesh, although the flesh can be quite bitter. You can buy rainbow carrot seeds and eat the whole seed, or take a handful of the pretty tiny seeds home with you.