Today I did a bit of research on the net and found out that before the 17th century, almost all carrots cultivated were purple. The modern day orange carrot wasn’t cultivated until Dutch growers in the late 16th century took mutant strains of the purple carrot, including yellow and white carrots and gradually developed them into the sweet, plump, orange variety we have today.
Before this, pretty much all carrots were purple with mutated versions occasionally popping up including the yellow and white carrots. Much like the small orange poppies that keep popping up in my garden!
These carrots however were rarely cultivated and lacked the purple pigment anthocyanin, which gave carrots back in those days, their distinctive purple color.
Apparently the modern day orange carrot was developed by crossing the mutated yellow and white rooted carrots as well as varieties of wild carrots, which are quite distinct from cultivated carrots.
The reason for my research was a conversation with my sister when Tim and I visited her in Queensland in October. Her husband has the firm belief that his eating purple carrots will make him leaner, meaner and I guess healthier….too bad about the chocolates, biscuits and huge packed lunches my sister supplies him on a daily basis! My brother-in-law also believes coffee gives him back trouble where he finds it difficult to walk….well I’m not sure what to think about that one.
Anyway, my gorgeous big sister Bernice mentioned she would like to grow the purple carrots as they are so darned expensive to buy up there, being rare finds in the general fruit and veg shops of Central Queensland. So, on our return to Victoria, home of nurseries that produce all sorts of weird and wonderful plants, I set about finding some seeds for her, hence the history lesson.
I have 2 packets of purple carrot seeds (300 seeds in each) being posted to me as I write this and am feeling quite excited about producing them in my veg patch. Knowing my luck, my seeds will come to nothing, but the seeds I sent to Bernice will thrive and produce beautiful carrots of the finest purple….I just betcha! (my sister’s favourite saying).
So now I have imparted this useless information (for most), I shall now take my weary body off to bed.
To dream of the purple carrot perhaps …