When is a carrot not just a carrot? When it’s got the AOC seal of approval, of course.
Flaming orange with bright green tops, the carrot is available all year round at France’s beloved markets, and can be used for all sorts, from salads to crudités to desserts. In 2020, some 690,548 tonnes of carrots were produced, mainly in Aquitaine, Lower Normandy and Brittany.
In France, there are three main categories:
- The early carrot is harvested very young, from late May to July. It will last for three days in the crisper and there’s no need to peel it, just give it a quick rinse and a scrape – this way you preserve almost all the nutrients.
- The seasonal carrot is available from July to October;
- The longer-lasting carrot (‘carotte de garde’) can be found on market stalls from October to March and can be kept for up to a week in the refrigerator.
Some varieties of carrots are grown on sandy soils, such as the carotte de sable des Landes. Harvested by hand from May to July, this fragrant variety has a sweet and iodised flavour. The carotte de sable de Créances (AOC), which is produced in sandy soils of the Cotentin, also has a sweet, delicate taste.
A top tip to cut down on waste is to keep the carrot tops and use them to season soups and broths. Also, if your carrots are a little on the elderly side, perk them up by adding a teaspoon of sugar to the cooking water.