Baby carrots are small in size, averaging 7-10 centimeters in length, and are slender, cylindrical, and conical in shape with slight tapering to the non-stem end. The skin is smooth and firm, varying in color depending on the variety, and is covered in small root hairs. Underneath the surface, the flesh is crisp, tender, and dense, also varying in color, but the most popular Baby carrots are typically grown from orange varieties. Baby carrots are crunchy with a sweeter flavor than full-grown, mature carrots.
Baby carrots, botanically classified as Daucus carota subsp. sativus are edible, underground roots that have been harvested prematurely and are members of the Apiaceae family along with parsnips, celery, and parsley. There is some confusion on what is considered a Baby carrot, and there are two main types that are mistakenly interchanged known as true Baby carrots and baby-cut carrots. True Baby carrots are bred and cultivated specifically to be harvested before they reach full size and are depicted in the photo above. There are many varieties of carrots that can be marketed under the Baby carrot name, including Nantes, Five Star Baby, Purple Dragon, and Shin Kuroda. The other type of small carrots is known as Baby-cut carrots. These roots are manufactured carrots which are ground down and shaped into thumb-sized carrots. Baby-cut carrots often overshadow true Baby carrots in the commercial marketplace, but Baby carrots, in general, are favored for their small size, crisp consistency, and sweet flavor.
Baby carrots can be consumed in both raw and cooked applications such as roasting, sauting, stir-frying, and boiling. The young carrots do not have to be peeled, making them a time-efficient culinary asset, and contain a sweeter flavor and more tender consistency than mature carrots. Baby carrots can be shredded over salads and grain bowls, sliced for appetizer plates, or sliced and tossed into soups, stews, and curries. Baby carrots can also be pureed into sauces, roasted and fried, or baked into muffins, pancakes, and bread. Baby carrots pair well with herbs such as tarragon, thyme, cilantro, and parsley, fruits such as pomegranates and apples, nuts such as almonds and pistachios, ginger, cinnamon, and cheeses such as cheddar, feta, parmesan, and pecorino. Baby carrots will keep 4-5 weeks when stored loosely in a plastic bag with air circulation in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.