Wondering if you should peel those carrots ? After all, they look mostly clean, wouldn’t a quick scrub get them ready for cooking ? Let’s take a look at whether you really need to peel carrots or not, whether there’s any point to keeping the skin on, and why we peel carrots in the first place. Read on!
Do you need to peel carrots ?
No, you don’t need to peel carrots but it’s good practice to do so. The point of peeling carrots is to make sure they’re as clean as possible before adding them to the pot, and to make sure they don’t have a somewhat bitter, earthy flavor from the skin. So as long as you can clean your carrots very well without peeling them, you don’t have a real reason to peel them if you’re fine with the flavor of the carrot skin.
Is there any advantage to not peeling carrots ?
Retaining extra nutrients, tenderness, and possibly aesthetics. Most vegetables keep a few more minerals and vitamins in their peel or skin, so keeping the skin on would theoretically keep all those extra antioxidants in the carrot. In practice, some nutrients are lost as the carrot cooks (such as vit C) so there may not be a huge advantage to keeping the skin on just for extra nutrients that may or may not break down during cooking. It’s a very personal decision.
As for aesthetic, if you’re into more traditional food, perhaps trying to recreate medieval food, you might feel that keeping the skin on some veggies, including the carrots, adds to the authenticity. When cooking with the skin on, keep in mind it may peel off on its own in some cases, during the cooking process.
And finally, tenderness and with it comes a bit of sweetness. Carrots are naturally sweet, so keeping the skin on may offset that sweetness with a bit of bitterness, which is fine for some people. But with it comes a slight difference in texture. Peeled carrots tend to be softer ad easier to eat that skin-on carrots. This is mostly true for roast carrots, simmered or boiled ones will behave the same.
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What do carrot peels taste like ?
The skin on a carrot tastes just slightly more earthy/woody than the rest of the carrot. You’re not changing the overall flavor of the meal as much as you would if you left the skin on the potatoes, for example. The skin on a carrot is very thin actually, but you might still detect a bitter, earthy note if you have sensitive taste buds.
When you peel a carrot you peel more than just the skin, you’re also taking a layer of the actual ‘meat’ of the carrot. So there isn’t much added or lost in terms of flavor alone, when keeping the skin on. Yo might notice a difference, but it’s not as drastic as you might expect.
How to clean carrots (unpeeled)
The best way to clean carrots without peeling them is to scrub them with a veggie brush. These are inexpensive brushes you can find at any grocery store, and they’re meant to scrub the carrot clean without taking too much of the skin off. You can scrub the carrots in a bowl with water, or under running water. Just make sure to rinse the carrots and the brush very well at the end.
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Why do we usually peel carrots ?
Most of the time people don’t think about why veggies are peeled, we just peel them. Once you think about it, you’ll likely come to these three points: less dirt on the carrots, tenderness, and a generally better, brighter color on the vegetable.
So your carrot was dug of from the earth, it will still have some dirt and dust on it. You can scrub it clean, or you can peel it. Peeling takes off the entire first layer of carrot and ensures that what you get wasn’t touched by dirt or germs. A quick rinse should get rind of any debris left from your hands.
As for the color, a peeled carrot has its bright orange meat exposed. A carrot with the peel still on looks decidedly less orange, and maybe even less impressive. Maybe I’m biased here but I think a peeled carrot always has better color than an unpeeled one, the same way a zucchini with the skin on looks better than a peeled one.
Tenderness in a cooked carrot comes from softening the fibers in this root veggie. The skin is a little tougher when cooked, especially when it comes to roast, grilled, or baked carrots. The skin will dry out and get wrinkly and tough, still chewable but it’s not as pleasant as a peeled carrot.
So in short, we peel carrots (and most other vegetables) to make sure they’re clean, and to get a better color out of them. You can use unpeeled carrots just fine, as long as you scrub them clean and ensure there isn’t any dirt left on the skin before adding them to the pot.
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Can you eat raw carrots ?
Yes, you can eat raw carrots and they will have a strong woody flavor, mild sweetness, and a big crunch to them. Raw carrots are very tough, like the crispiest red apple you’ve ever had, but less juicy. Raw carrots with the skin on are only slightly bitter due to their skin, but it shouldn’t be a strong enough bitterness to make them inedible.
Most of the time raw carrots aren’t eaten alone. You can grate them or finely chop them and add them to a salad. You can cut then into fine sticks and use them to eat a dip (such as hummus), or you can just have them as a nutrient dense snack that also keeps you full if you’re trying to go for a calorie deficit.