Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Great Carrot Taste Test

I've never been able to grow sweet carrots, it seems. If I cut them up into carrot sticks for munching, I always end up feeling like I was chewing on a bar of soap. Blech. Every year, I try different varieties, but alas-- they always taste strong.

This year, I had higher hopes because Nathan spread plenty of manure last fall, and we've built up the soil somewhat over the last few years. I planted three kinds of carrots, and some I planted in a raised bed with even better soil.

That is... I think I planted three kinds. It might have been four. And I think I know which were which... Despite my best efforts at record keeping and writing down what went where so as best to determine favorite varieties... I... well... I don't always write things down.

So I had made some notes about the carrots, but the rest I had to figure out by deductive reasoning, educated guesses, and general surmising.

I dug them all up today and put them in buckets of dirt to go into my new fancy-dancy cold storage (which has walls today! Actual walls!). I kept out some samples for a taste test.

I laid them out on the counter with super-sticky post-it notes to indicate which kind was which. Er... which kind I thought was which.

I'm really efficient that way, you know.

First we had Kuroda, some planted in the ground (that I knew for sure!) and some planted in the raised bed, but I'm not positive they were Kuroda. They could have been Tendersweet, OR they could have been something left over from last year, which I can't remember.

Oh, last year I planted "Pot O Gold" (see? Sometimes I can actually take notes). I don't recall planting Pot O Gold this year, so I'm fairly certain that these were Kuroda. I think. In any even, they were planted in the raised bed, and carrots, in my experience, seem to prefer the raised beds to the clay-based stuff in the ground.

Then we had Tendersweet, and finally St. Valery, an heirloom seed which I bought from Pinetree (I heart Pinetree!) this year.

The Tendersweet and Kuroda both came from Henry Field's with "buy-one-get-one" offers when I ordered my fruit trees. I needed a few more dollars to get to $25, so that I could get $25 worth of plants "free". So I ordered carrots to get my total up to $50 (Lost? Fergetaboudid. It's complicated. Or not.). I ended up with four packets of carrots seeds from Henry Field's, plus the St. Valery I had already gotten from Pinetree. It doesn't really matter which carrot wins this contest because I'll be planting the same kinds next year. And the year after. And... Nevermind.

Actually, I'm kinda rooting for St. Valery, because it's heirloom. I want to overwinter it and save the seeds and make cute little baby St. Valery carrots. It'll be fun!

Except I have piles of Tendersweet and Kuroda carrot seeds. I think I could save those, too, though, since I'm pretty sure they aren't hybrid. Anyway...

We set to tasting.

Jonah tasted.

I tasted.

Nathan tasted.

And in classic signature style, we didn't write anything down! No votes, no ballots, no score-cards. Just your basic, everyday "crunch-chrunch, mmmmm... yum!"

Ha! Told you I was efficient!


What, you didn't believe me?


They were all actually quite tasty! We enjoyed them, every one. They all had slightly different flavors. The Tendersweet was tender and... sweet! Actual sweet carrots grown in my garden! The Kuroda in the ground was probably the strongest and closest to "soapy" that we tasted. The St. Valery was somewhere in between, though quite a bit more dense and crunchy than the Tendersweet.

Turns out, however, that our all-around favorite is the somewhat mysterious carrot grown in the raised bed. Since I'm not sure exactly what it was (drat my record keeping skills, or lack thereof), I'm going to assume it was so tasty because of the soil it was grown in.

The takehome lesson then? Grow 'em in good dirt!

No matter which was best, all the test carrots...




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