The Key To Getting More Flavor Out Of Carrots? Buy Smaller

It's often suggested that bigger is better, but that is not always the case, especially when it comes to carrots. These favorite root vegetables are always in season, or at least so it seems. But these cool weather veggies are at their sweetest and tastiest in the spring and fall months, and those that are smaller in size are generally going to offer a sweeter bite and more intense flavor than the oversized version of this beta-carotene rich food. Bon Appetit concurs, noting the large carrots that you take to the stables to feed the horses should be saved, well, for the horses.

Why is smaller better than larger when it comes to carrots? Small carrots are going to have lower starch levels compared to "horse carrots." In fact, these oversized carrots' flavor becomes dull and muted because they are diluted with higher concentrations of starch and water. However, don't rush out and stock-up on bags of baby carrots because those aren't going to offer you the sweetness you want either. Those baby carrots are simply large carrots that have been chopped and sculpted into their smaller version. These carrots aren't going to give you the sweetness you desire either. 

Small and bright orange are the best carrot option

To pick-out a right sized carrot, you are going to have to do some searching. You don't want carrots that are too plump or too long; nor do you want them too short and too skinny. You want them just right, so whatever you are cooking them with will benefit from the sweetness they add. This is particularly true for baked goods like carrot cake and muffins, soups and sauces, and, of course, that beautiful Thanksgiving's Day stuffing.

That said, regardless of size, you may come across what seems like a perfectly sized carrot only to find it tastes bitter or soapy. This can happen in big or small carrots, and is a result of carrots being grown in temperatures that are too hot or not picking them at the right time. Breaking down the flavor of a carrot, Homestead Acres explains that it is a combination of sugars and terpenoids that must be in equilibrium with one another in order for the carrot to taste sweet. But to help mitigate this harsh flavor, and ensure you get the sweet ones, you want to look for smaller carrots that are bright orange in color, firm to the touch, and free of cracks and those little rootlets.