Why You Can Probably Stop Peeling Carrots

They're sweet, crunchy, and Bugs Bunny's favorite food. You guessed it! Carrots.

Carrots are a wonderfully healthy and delicious root vegetable that can be prepared and served in many different ways. Served raw, they're delicious in salads. They're also a lovely addition to a veggie plate or charcuterie board. They are flavorful cooked in soups and stews or roasted with chicken and apples. They're yummy when prepared in a dessert like a carrot cake and are equally delicious when pickled. Not only are carrots versatile and delicious, but they're good for your health. According to WebMD, carrots are packed with vitamin A, which is key for eye health. They are also full of antioxidants and other nutrients like potassium and calcium. 

Because carrots grow in the ground, they can arrive at the market a bit dirty. You might be wondering if it's better to peel carrots or if cleaning them will suffice.

When washing is enough

According to Better Homes & Gardens, the decision to peel or not peel is not a matter of safety, but more a matter of personal taste. For everyday eating, simply scrubbing your carrots is enough to make them clean and safe to eat. Leaving the skin on carrots can give them a more rustic appearance, so if you're chopping carrots to serve in a mixed green salad or a hearty soup or stew, you might like the more casual look of unpeeled carrots. 

However, if you are making a stock with carrots or juicing them, there is no reason to peel them. When juicing, in particular, you want to get all the vitamins and nutrients carrots have to offer, and a lot of that lives in and just under the skin, per Tufts University. Peeling them would remove some of those nutrients from your juice. With all of this said, there are a few instances where you might want to consider breaking out the peeler.

When to peel

Reasons for peeling carrots have mostly to do with flavor and texture. According to Cook's Illustrated, unpeeled carrots can have a bit of an earthy flavor and graininess when cooked. If you are preparing something a bit more delicate, like baby food or dessert, it's best to avoid any untoward flavors or textures, so peeled carrots are better in these cases. 

The skin of the carrot is the toughest part of it, per Better Homes & Gardens, so if you are planning to mash or steam carrots, peeling can help make them softer. My Recipes also notes that aesthetics might be considered if you are roasting carrots and serving them whole. They note that the skins tend to become dry in the oven, so if you want a uniform look, peeling is the best option.

No matter how you decide to prepare your carrots — peeled or unpeeled — take heart in knowing that you are adding a nutritious veggie to your diet. If you choose to peel them, Better Homes & Gardens reminds you that you should never put the peels down the garbage disposal as they will clog it. Pitch them in the compost bin or regular trash instead. That's all, folks!