What are carrots?

The carrot, with its distinctive bright orange colour, is one of the most versatile root vegetables around – a result of its sweet flavour, which means it can be used raw or cooked, in sweet or savoury dishes.

That old wive's tale about carrots helping you see in the dark isn't entirely off-target; they're very high in beta-carotene, which is an important nutrient for maintaining healthy eyes.

How to prepare carrots

Very young carrots just need to be scrubbed clean and topped and tailed. Older carrots may need to be be peeled (but try not to take too much off, as most of the nutrients are stored just beneath the skin) as well as topped and tailed.

Check out our carrot recipe collection for more tasty inspiration.

How to cook carrots

Grate raw and use to make carrot cake or coleslaw. Peel into ribbons with a peeler for a salad. Slice into chunks and roast (30-35 mins). Cut into batons and steam (5-6 mins) or boil (5-7 mins).

How to store carrots

Wash your carrots, cut the green tops off and store them in the fridge – these make a great carrot top pesto. To keep them extra crisp, you can take this a step further and immerse them in a sealed Tupperware of cold water in the fridge. Make sure you change the water every few days.

When are carrots in season?

All year round, but at their best mid-May through to the end of September.

Learn how to grow your own carrots from the experts at Gardeners’ World.

Choose the best carrots

Carrots should be firm with unblemished, bright orange skins. In spring, look out for young, thin carrots with their feathery greens still attached – they're particularly tender and sweet.

Those on sale later in the season will be larger and tougher. Some argue that, of all vegetables, carrots that are grown organically have the most marked improvement of flavour.

Alternatives to carrots

Try parsnip or turnip.