Why do we peel carrots?

  • So I was sitting there, looking down at my counter, realizing that I probably had a good carrot or two of shavings just going to waste. (well, I'll compost it, but it's non-food at that point).

    Is there any reason we peel carrots and don't just give them a good scrubbing? I mean, the scrubbing works for potatoes (so long as they're not green under the skin), and carrots grow in dirt, too. I don't think it's a pesticide issue, as we did it growing up, and I don't think we cared about pesticides back then.

    I admit that sometimes there's odd crooks that might be harder to scrub dirt out of, but is there something fundamental that I'm missing here?

    I'm adding the `[food-safety]` tag, because even though this isn't *specifically* about food safety, questions along the lines of "must I peel this food before eating it?" are common food safety questions and I think this should be loosely linked to those.

    Try comparing the taste of the carrot peels to the taste of the carrot interiors; the difference will be obvious.

    "we"? - I generally do scrub mine instead of peeling. :D

  • dassouki

    dassouki Correct answer

    10 years ago

    I find when cooked, the skin retains a bit of bitterness and toughness, so in desserts, juices or when shaved/julienned , I'm inclined to peel them. In fast salads, quick application, I usually don't bother.

    It it only when cooked? Michael's response seems to suggest it's in raw carrots, too.

    @joe - indeed when raw as well however, I think it's more noticeable when the fruit is soft rather than crunchy. I find the bitterness acceptable in the raw state

    +1 The latest issue of Cook's Illustrated (June 2011, I think) did a taste test where they found it's much better tasting after being peeled.

    This depends on the carrot. A young carrot freshly pulled from the ground has no bitterness at all, it is even sweet. Old, woody carrots from the supermarket could be bitter, especially if the surface is treated.

    I peel my old woody carrots from the supermarket just to get the little stringy rootlets that have grown out of them off. This would not be a problem if I could remember to check whether I need to buy fresh when I plan to cook with the things.

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