Carrots are one of the most common vegetables around the world. They are unpretentious about climate, full of vitamins, and their most popular variety is the orange color by which we unmistakably distinguish carrots from other vegetables, flooding the shelves of supermarkets. Many people who are used to the standard orange carrots will be surprised to learn that other colors exist. Moreover, originally this vegetable was not orange at all: purple and yellow colors prevailed.
Wild species of carrots existed tens and even hundreds of thousands of years ago, and the family “umbrella”, to which our heroine belongs, has existed on the planet for millions of years. Countless species of wild carrots varied in size, taste and color: from yellow to dark purple. Characteristically, the darker types of carrots grew in the Asian region, while the lighter yellow hues were common in the Mediterranean.
For a long time carrot remained a wild plant: it was known to man, but all the attention of our ancestors was devoted to the cultivation of cereals and a few other domesticated plants. Only around the 10th century A.D. did we get our hands on carrots: they began to be purposefully cultivated in Asia Minor.
That’s interesting: The dark color of carrots is influenced by a substance called anthocyanin. Anthocyanins are ubiquitous in nature and give plants’ petals and fruits red, purple and blue colors. Alpha and beta-carotene are responsible for the yellow color of many plants, including carrots.
A few centuries later, carrots began to be cultivated in European countries. But the Mediterranean yellow carrot always remained an unsightly and thin root vegetable – not to compare with the bright and large Asian carrots. Europeans have not long put up with this state of affairs and in the 17th century crossing varieties from different regions led to the appearance of our familiar orange carrots.
This variety of root-crops combines the useful substances and vitamins (anthocins, carotenoids) of Asian and Mediterranean carrots and is distinguished by its large size and sweet taste. Not surprisingly, it is the orange carrot that has gained popularity among buyers. But in some places you can also find yellow or purple carrots, which have become exotic.