Tag Archives: cocktail carrots

COCKTAIL CARROTS – You decide.


Monday, November 28th, 2011 | Filed under Handy Tips




OK, so I am one of those people that never goes for the 2″ short, stubby, thumb-shaped carrots that I see in the vegetable section of my local grocery store and in so many deli display pre-packaged ‘to go’  cases and on many cocktail party tables.

To me, they don’t taste like carrots.

Now, I’m not professing to be an aficionado of carrots or carrot flavor.  All I know is that I don’t like the 2″ cocktail carrots.

I’m OK with the bagged carrots, but I prefer the skinnier, longer carrots with their greens still attached.

To me, the carrots in green bunches taste like carrots should taste.  Sweet and crunchy – without breaking your teeth.

We've all seen these...

 

THE MYTH OF ‘BABY’ CARROTS

People call the bagged 2″ stubby shorty carrots “Baby” carrots.

They aren’t.

Baby carrots are real baby carrots which look like smaller versions of mature, carrot-shaped carrots.

The 2″ stubby shorty carrots are actually pieces of large carrots that didn’t make the grocery store standards.

These are REAL baby carrots.

 

THAT DOESN’T SOUND SO BAD, RIGHT?

So, why am I writing about the stubby cocktail carrot, you ask?

I mean, if it is just the inside of a carrot that didn’t make it to market, what is the issue?

Hmmmmm.

Well, for me, it is the process of how this shorty stubby did come to market.

The process and the process-ing.

For me, I’m one of those who stays away from processed food as much as possible.  When it comes to my animals, I am even more strict.  After all, they have no choice in the matter.  So, to me, I’d rather feed them the best quality of what I can afford – and of that food that I can afford, for sure I’m not going to invest in ‘processed’ foods (sugary foods, starchy foods, filler foods).

So for me, the process of processing the cocktail carrots leaves me cold.  To me, the process is why I don’t like the flavor…

But, to be honest, there are conflicting reviews on cocktail carrot processing out there.

Some say the process is not healthy and others say it doesn’t matter at all…

So, I guess it is up to us to decide what feels the best for ourselves and our horses.

Carrot processing...

Carrot processing...

 

SIMPLICITY

Or, as some of us know, sometimes it is just EASIER to feed the little stubby carrots…  They look clean, they are the right size (questionable) and they are easy to fit into any purse or pocket.

In truth, many horses have choked on these carrots because the animal bolts the treat (because it is that nebulous in-between size where needing a chew or not are in question…).  Also, the reason they appear ‘clean’ is because of a chlorine coating.  More on that below.

The cocktail carrots are certainly not less expensive than the regular bags of carrots.  But, they don’t need any washing and they fit into pockets so they feel ‘easier’.

Easy carrots

Easy carrots.

 

THE COCKTAIL CARROT IN A SNAPSHOT:

Below is a cut and paste from the Internet.  The article was found on this page via Snopes.com.

Kinda scary, eh?

 

THE REBUTTAL

And then I found this… (linked here, on ABOUT.COM by David Emery)

Analysis:It’s true that baby carrots (aka “cocktail carrots”) were originally produced by cutting and trimming odd-shaped or broken carrots into a uniform, smaller size (though now they’re made from carrots grown specifically for the purpose).

It’s also true that baby carrots are typically washed in a chlorine-and-water solution before packaging (as are other ready-to-eat fresh vegetable products, such as bagged salads).

None of this is harmful to your health, says Dr. Joe Schwarcz, professor of chemistry at McGill University. The whole point of washing vegetables with chlorinated water is to protect consumers’ health by reducing bacteria that could cause foodborne illnesses.

The “white covering” mentioned above which sometimes appears on the surface of refrigerated carrots (known as “white blush” in the industry) is a harmless discoloration resulting from moisture loss and/or abrasion during storage. It has nothing to do with chlorine and does not affect the taste or nutritional value of the carrots.

 

ANOTHER REBUTTAL

I also found this one from Bart B. Van Bockstaele linked here.

 

What about the chlorine? This is true as well. The carrots must be washed with chlorinated water. This water must have a pH (acidity) between 6.0 and 7.0. The concentration of chlorine in the water should be between 100 and 150 ppm (parts per million). The time of contact between the carrots and the chlorinated water should not exceed 5 minutes. This must be removed from the carrots by rinsing with potable water or using a centrifugal drier.

Is this dangerous? No. Chlorination is a well-known and well-tested way to disinfect food products. Our tap water is chlorinated as well. I would nevertheless like to issue a warning. When you disinfect something, that means that you kill the bacteria that are present. Chlorine kills bacteria. It can also kill us, or be very bad for us. The bleach you use to clean and disinfect your toilet, contains chlorine. Do not drink it. This will kill you because it is far more concentrated than we can safely ingest. The chlorine in your tap water and in your baby-carrots, presents no danger whatsoever. It is precisely to make the carrots safe that the chlorine is used.

As a side-note, it is interesting to know that the term chlorine is something of a misnomer. Chlorine, in its natural state, is a highly reactive gas that forms compounds with other products. When chlorine is added to other products, it will react virtually immediately to form compounds such as hypochlorous acid (when chlorine is added to water) and sodium hypochlorite (when chlorine is added to a sodium hydroxide solution). These compounds in turn disinfect the water. When we talk about chlorine, and even about free chlorine, these compounds are usually what we are referring to.

What about the white covering? Is that really the chlorine that resurfaces? No. It is simply the carrot drying out. Try it out for yourself. Take a fresh, normal carrot and cut it in half. Wait. The same white covering (which is officially called white blush) will appear on the cut. Baby carrots will show a lot more white blush for a very simple reason: their skin has been removed and therefore, the entire carrot dries out.

What about the cancer claim? The question is a valid one, especially because we know that there are certain compounds of chlorine that do cause cancer. Does chlorine cause cancer? No. While medical science is not an exact science, and we must always be vigilant, there is at present no evidence whatsoever that chlorine causes cancer or could be a facilitator for cancer. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have not classified chlorine as to its human carcinogenicity. In other words, chlorine is perfectly safe, if it is used appropriately.
In short, there is nothing wrong with baby carrots. They are a food that humans have enjoyed for centuries, probably millennia, chock-full of goodness that we need to keep our bodies functioning.
Bunny Bites processing

Bunny Bites processing

 

THE HISTORY OF COCKTAIL CARROTS

Well, for me, I’ve learned to not always listen to what is said to be absolutely true by Doctors.

In my lifetime, several things have turned out to be bad for me that were said to be good and vice-versa.

I think it is best to do the research and decide for yourself.

So, here is a brief history of the cocktail carrot from the WORLD CARROT MUSEUM linked here (who knew?).  I find it interesting that there is no mention of chlorine in the entire article…:

ARTICLE IN ITS ENTIRETY – KINDA LONG – FROM THE WORLD CARROT MUSEUM

True Baby Carrots

In the 1980’s supermarkets expected carrots to be a particular size, shape, and color. Anything else had to be sold for juice or processing or animal feed, or just thrown away. One farmer wondered what would happen if he peeled the skin off the gnarly carrots, cut them into pieces, and sold them in bags. He made up a few test batches to show his buyers. One batch, cut into 1-inch bites and peeled round, he called “bunny balls.” Another batch, peeled and cut 2 inches long, looked like little baby carrots.

Bunny balls never made it. But baby carrots were a hit. They transformed the whole industry.

A “true” baby carrot is a carrot grown to the “baby stage”, which is to say long before the root reaches its mature size.  The test is can you see a proper “shoulder” on each carrot. These immature roots are preferred by some people out of the belief that they are superior either in texture, nutrition or taste.

They are also sometimes harvested simply as the result of crop thinning, but are also grown to this size as a specialty crop. Certain cultivars of carrots have been bred to be used at the “baby” stage. One such cultivar is ‘Amsterdam Forcing’.  You will see them in the stores and are normally very expensive and displayed with some of the green showing to “prove” they are a “real” carrot.

There is also a baby variety called Thumbelina, or Paris Market shaped like a golf ball.

 

Tired of the wastefulness he was seeing, Mike Yurosek whittled “babies” from grown-up cast off carrots.

“Manufactured” baby carrots , or cut and peel, are what you see most often in the shops  – are carrot shaped slices of peeled carrots invented in the late 1980’s by Mike Yurosek, a California farmer, as a way of making use of carrots which are too twisted or knobbly for sale as full-size carrots. Yurosek was unhappy at having to discard as much as 400 tonnes of  carrots a day because of their imperfections, and looked for a way to reclaim what would otherwise be a waste product. He was able to find an industrial green bean cutter, which cut his carrots into 5 cm lengths, and by placing these lengths into an industrial potato peeler, he created the baby carrot.

The much decreased waste is also used either for juicing or as animal fodder. Perhaps most important, the baby-cut method allows growers to use far more of the carrot than they used to. In the past, a third or more of a carrot crop could have been easily tossed away, but baby-cut allows more partial carrots to be used, and the peeling process actually removes less of the outer skin that you might imagine. They are sold in single-serving packs with ranch dressing for dipping on the side. They’re passed out on airplanes and sold in plastic containers designed to fit in a car’s cup holder. At Disney World, and MacDonald’s burgers now come two ways:  with fries or baby carrots.

There is nothing “wrong” with manufactured baby carrots. They are a food that humans have enjoyed for centuries, probably millennia, chock-full of goodness that we need to keep our bodies functioning. Mr Yurosek died in 2005. Read the full story here.
Transformed to the core
The baby-cut boom also transformed the industry from its roots up. Before, growers were more interested in a bulky carrot with more of a tapered shape. But those were hard to chop into baby shape, so plant breeders worked to create varieties that were longer and narrower, allowing a producer to get four cuts instead of three on each carrot root, which is the part of the plant we eat.

They also found they could limit the diameter size of carrots by increasing the density with which they were planted — a discovery that helped them harvest more carrots per acre. (This sort of change wasn’t new for carrot growers: Up to the 1950s, when carrots were sold with their leaves intact, they were bred for hearty leaf growth. That stopped after grocers started selling just roots.)

Today’s carrot is also now bred for uniform color. Because the cutting process exposes much of the root to the buyer’s eye, producers don’t want their bags of carrots to be colored like a paint palette. With baby carrots or cut-and-peel carrots, you can see the core of every chunk,. The growers would like every carrot in that bag to look like every other one. Growers also obsess about texture and taste. You might find carrots far sweeter than they were in the past, and that’s intentional. Researchers found much of their appeal as a snack came from their sweetness, especially for perennially sweet-toothed kids, and bred them to have more natural sugar and less of the harsh taste that comes if you do a poor job of peeling.

The new varieties’ names reflect the change in growers’ needs: Prime Cut, Sweet Cuts, Morecuts.

What is perhaps most important, the baby-cut method allows growers to use far more of the carrot than they used to. In the past, a third or more of a carrot crop could have been easily tossed away, but baby-cut allows more partial carrots to be used, and the peeling process actually removes less of the outer skin that you might imagine — in part because growers, who are selling by weight, don’t want to take off more than they need to.

And what’s left over after the initial processing can still be used in even smaller products, or squeezed for juice.

photo from the article


Watch a video of how the process works and how baby carrots are “made”.

Vanmark Equipment LLC is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of carrot processing equipment.  Millions of pounds of carrots processed in the United States go through Vanmark’s peelers/washers before making their way to consumers. Vanmark makes equipment for cleaning and polishing carrots of all sizes as well as processing and shaping product sold as baby carrots. Our equipment can use a two part process to first remove material from full size cut carrots and then shape and smooth the pieces into a rounded, distinctive baby carrot shape. Watch the machine in action here

(Source Vanmark equipment website)

Some Statistics:

 In the US over 172 million tonnes of carrots are processed into baby peeled carrots.
 In the US baby peeled carrots sales exceed US$400 million per annum.
 Overall carrot consumption in the US has increased by 33% through the introduction of baby peeled carrots.
 In the US annual consumer spending on baby peeled carrots exceeds US$2.00 per head.
 In 1999 baby peeled carrot purchases passed whole carrots. 94% of US consumers purchased baby peeled carrots
 90% had  bought whole carrots. Purchases of baby peeled carrots were even ahead of fresh salad mixes.
 Baby peeled carrots have the lion’s share of the carrot category accounting for over 80% of all retail carrot sales.
 Up until 2000 baby carrots have dominated US produce department’s with excellent growth ahead of all other produce items.

 

From Field to Supermarket Shelf

 In the field, two-story carrot harvesters use long metal prongs to open up the soil, while rubber belts grab the green tops and pull.

 The carrots ride up the belts to the top of the picker, where an automated cutter snips off the greens.

 They’re trucked to the processing plant, where they’re put in icy water to bring their temperature down to 37 degrees to inhibit spoiling.

 They are sorted by thickness.

 Thin carrots continue on the processing line; the others will be used as whole carrots, juice or cattle feed.

 An inspector looks for rocks, debris or malformed carrots that slip through.

 The carrots are shaped into 2-inch pieces by automated cutters.

 An optical sorter discards any piece that has green on it.

 The pieces are pumped through pipes to the peeling tanks.

 The peelers rotate, scraping the skin off the carrots.

 The carrots are weighed and bagged by an automated scale and packager.

 Finally  placed in cold storage until they are shipped.

Strictly “baby” means immature, pulled from the ground before they reach full size. Originally that was the case, nowadays they have developed miniature strains which are mature when small in stature!

Real baby carrots (miniature version of full size) are what they are, about 3 or 4 inches in length.

Baby “style” cut carrots (those whittled down from larger carrots) started off by the “inventor” as being approx 2 inches in the 1980’s, and have remained so, more or less, ever since.

USDA use weight to base its standards for nutrition etc – a small baby carrot is deemed 10 grams, a medium one 15 grams.


Here is the full story of the popular Baby Cut & Peel carrot:

It all began in the mid 80’s ago when Mike Yurosek of Newhall, California got tired of seeing 400 tons of carrots a day drop down the cull chute at his packing plant in Bakersfield. Culls are carrots that are too twisted, knobbly, bent or broken to sell. In some loads, as many as 70% of carrots were tossed.

Yurosek had always been a “think outside the carrot patch” guy. In the 1960s, Yurosek and Sons was selling carrots in plastic bags with a Bunny-Luv logo, a cartoon that got the farmers in trouble with Warner Bros., which was protective of its Bugs Bunny brand. Instead of bringing in lawyers and spending a fortune, Yurosek recalls, “I said to my wife who is a pretty good drawer,  ‘Hey, draw me up about 50 bunnies, would you? Then we’ll send them to Warner Bros. and ask them to tell us which ones we can use.’ ”

The entertainment giant picked one, and Bunny-Luv lived on for the price of a pencil. The farmer continued growing carrots, and throwing them out, for decades. But in 1986, Yurosek had the idea that would change American munching habits. California’s Central Valley is dotted with farms, fruit and vegetable processors, and freezing plants. Yurosek knew full well that freezers routinely cut up his long, well-shaped carrots into cubes, coins and mini-carrots. “If they can do that, why can’t we, and pack ‘em fresh?” he wondered.

First he had to cut the culls into something small enough to make use of their straight parts. The first batch was done in a potato peeler and cut by hand. Then he found a frozen-food company that was going out of business and bought an industrial green-bean cutter, which just happened to cut things into 2-inch pieces. Thus was born the standard size for a baby carrot.

Next, he sent one of his workers to a packing plant and loaded the cut-up carrots into an industrial potato peeler to take off the peel and smooth down the edges. What he ended up with was a little rough but still recognizable as the baby carrot of today.
After a bit of practice and an investment in some bagging machinery, he called one of his best customers, a Vons supermarket in Los Angeles. “I said, ‘I’m sending you some carrots to see what you think.’ Next day they called and said, ‘We only want those.’ ”

The babies were an economic powerhouse. Stores paid 10 cents a bag for whole carrots and sold them for 17 cents. They paid 50 cents for a 1-pound package of baby carrots and sold them for $1. By 1989, more markets were on board, and the baby-carrot juggernaut had begun.

Today, these “babies” come from one main place in the US: Bakersfield, California. The state produces almost three-quarters of U.S. carrots because of its favourable climate and deep, not-too-heavy soil. Every day, somewhere in the state, carrots are either being planted or harvested (20 million pounds in 2006).

Which is why Bakersfield is home to the nation’s top two carrot processors: Grimmway Farms and Bolthouse Farms. In the early 1990s, Yurosek sold his company to rival Grimmway.  The Bunny-Luv logo still can be found on Grimmway’s organic carrots. But it’s Bakersfield’s other carrot producer, Bolthouse, that carries on the Yurosek tradition. Yurosek’s grandson Derek is Bolthouse’s director of agricultural operations.

The Industry calls them “Minis” and have brought about a carrot-breeding revolution, says the USDA’s Simon, who also teaches horticulture at the University of Wisconsin. Carrots originally were sold in bulk, straight from the farm. The first advance was the “cello” carrot. Introduced in the 1950s, these were washed and sold in newfangled (at the time) cellophane bags. “Cello carrots had to look like a carrot, and that was enough,” Simon says.

Enter the baby carrot. Suddenly carrots were “branded.” Instead of just carrots, they were Bunny-Luv or Bolthouse or Grimmway carrots. Consumers could remember the name, and if they got a bad carrot, they wouldn’t buy that particular brand any more. Breeders got to work, getting rid of woodiness and bitterness. They also bred for enhanced length, smoothness and a cylindrical quality that lets processors clip off as little of the tip as possible.
Balancing these with the desirable sweetness and juiciness is a delicate task, Simon says. The faintly bitter taste is essential to what makes a carrot taste like a carrot. “I’ve had carrots that have more of a flavour note of peas or corn,” he says.

Get the carrot too juicy and it breaks in the field. “There are some carrot varieties so succulent they’re amazing, but they’re like glass,” Simon says. “Consumers like juicy carrots, but if they’re all broken, you can’t sell them.”
None of this was done with fancy genetic engineering. “You just grow lots of carrots and look at them and taste them,” Simon says. Breeders started experimenting with seed from varieties culled in the past for being too long to fit into the plastic bag.
“Prior to baby carrots, the ideal length for a carrot was somewhere between 6 and 7 inches,” Simon says. Now they’re typically 8 inches long, a “three-cut” that can make three 2-inch babies. And breeders are edging toward fields of even longer carrots. “You make it a four-cut, and you’ve got a 33% yield increase,” Simon says.

The baby-cut boom transformed the industry from its roots up. Before, growers were more interested in a bulky carrot with more of a tapered shape. But those were hard to chop into baby shape, so plant breeders worked to create varieties that were longer and narrower, allowing a producer to get four cuts instead of three on each carrot root, which is the part of the plant we eat. They also found they could limit the diameter size of carrots by increasing the density with which they were planted — a discovery that helped them harvest more carrots per acre.

Mr Yurosek  is often referred to as the “Father of Baby Carrots”. By simply cutting carrots into 2-inch sections, he won a well-earned place in agricultural history. Equally deserved is his legacy in business lore. Yurosek transformed an industry by addressing a common problem. Whereas most growers focused their energies on production excellence, Yurosek addressed another ingredient required for success: customer relevance.  Sadly he died of cancer in 2005.

Photo from the article

 

IN CONCLUSION

For me, I don’t like how they taste…

I guess I am bothered by the chlorine issue, but I myself swim in a chlorinated pool often – and I’m sure chlorine gets on and soaks into my skin – not to mention what I swallow.

Dunno.  The jury is still out for me on these cocktail carrots.  I guess if they taste funky to me, I worry a bit.

Tasting funky should be a sign…  It sure is to the horse.

Which brings me full circle.  Will your horse eat them?  Mine will – but they prefer the ones out of the ground.  I agree.

For me, that is enough.

 

Yum!

 

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!

Click to learn about Autumn!

 

Copyright

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!