Thursday, June 10, 2010

Atomic reds?

I am a sucker for seed names -- a romantic reference or a clever descriptor always makes me want to grow that variety. Who cares how delicious or reliable the more-mundane-named variety is? Enticed by the name on the label, I picked up some atomic red carrot seeds at a seed swap in early spring. Atomic red! It was thrilling -- radiant, nuclear, flaming hot red! I couldn't wait. Scarlet Nantes had nothing on atomic. Baker Creek Seeds describes them as "brilliant red". Google images showed me gorgeous bundles of blood-red roots. I planted them early, as soon as the soil could be worked, in a deep raised bed. Today, I pulled the first few. I include the strawberries as a "red" color reference. Are these carrots even red? Let alone atomic red?

Beyond the unremarkable color the taste was poor -- woody and slightly bitter. I was disgruntled -- did I harvest too early? Were the seeds mislabeled? Then I found an interesting note on the website of Ed Hume Seeds:

"When raw, its roots are light pink and somewhat rough in appearance. When peeled and cooked, the carrots turn blood red in color. It's flavor and texture are also significantly improved by cooking"

Okay, so maybe it was a cooking issue -- I peeled and steamed them. Here is the cooked color:

No dice on the color, but the flavor did improve. They were now sweet and tasted very carrot-y. They would be a good addition to soup. But their color is orange. Just plain orange. Nothing neon, nuclear or atomic about it. Now I am on a quest for a red carrot -- never mind the beets, tomatoes and strawberries that decorate my garden in crimson hues. Next year, I'm going for Red Samurai. I think this may be the same as Kyoto Red Carrots, but Samurai has a better ring to it, no?


  1. I haven't grown carrots in many years but this year I have Nantes in the garden. I had better get out there and pull some. For some reason I thought I had to wait until fall.

    The tops are huge, should have put them in the back of the bed. I remember the last time I grew carrots I had to go out and buy a pitchfork to harvest them. I hope I can find it now!


  2. Hi Abbie, best wishes on your quest for the perfect red carrot with a magnetic name!

  3. I'm a sucker for a cool name too. Sorry about your carrots, I too would've expected something much more colorful than those appear to be.