Everyone knows that carrots are great for you. They contain lots of wonderful vitamins and beneficial bonuses like vitamin A and B6. But there seems to be some confusion and misinformation on whether you can even ingest the tops, otherwise known as greens. Some people believe they are poisonous or will make you sick, but what’s the truth?
Can you juice carrot greens? Yes, you can juice carrot greens. They are rich in vitamins and have a strong carrot flavor. They are not poisonous, and unless you have an allergy to carrots, drinking the juice from carrot tops should not make you sick.
During my research into this topic, I found a lot of interesting facts that I’d like to share to help you create your own fabulous carrot top juices. But first, what the heck is a carrot anyway?
What are carrots, exactly?
A carrot is a root plant, which means it grows in the ground with those vibrant, almost fluffy looking soft leaves poking out of the dirt. The carrot belongs to a group of plants in the Apiaceae family, also called Umbelliferae. They look a bit like little umbrellas for frogs.
Some plants that share this family would be parsley and celery, with over 3,000 species. They all share a similar look and general design with distinctive feathery leaves.
But the internet said the tops are toxic!
Well, my mom always said not to trust everything you read on the internet. The truth is yes, carrots contain a chemical called alkaloid, but lots of other favorites you eat each day contain alkaloids. Tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant are just a few.
While there are plenty of plants with alkaloids that you can eat, not all are edible, so don’t chow down on your lawn just yet. There are a few kinds of alkaloids, the ones in carrot tops are pyrrolidine and daucine.
But does that mean you’re going to keel over if you juice carrot tops and take a swig?
Anything and everything you consume, liquid, solid, or something in between could potentially poison or kill you, even water! But carrot tops are really good for you; go figure.
But how did the poison carrot top myth start?
As myths do, this one has certainly spread around. After doing some digging, it looks like a lot of that myth at least resurfaced in a news article on The New York Times back around 2009. It was lovingly titled as “The Toxic Salad”. You can read it here if you feel so inclined, but the basic idea is that you shouldn’t eat things you find in your yard unless you’re certain what they are.
While the tops of carrots are good for you, one nibble of a parsnip stalk could make you quite ill. There are also carrot look-alike plants that are poisonous. Wild carrot, for example, is also called Queen Anne’s lace, and it will do some major damage.
But that brings us to our next big question.
How are carrot greens good for you?
Carrots are rich in so many nutrients like vitamin C, fiber, minerals and antioxidants, it’s hard to see how anyone can vilify them. Of course, they aren’t magical and won’t let you see in the dark, but they have vitamin A, which is pretty close as it helps prevent vision loss.
What else could carrots possibly offer you? Well, how about reducing the risk of cancer or cardiovascular disease? A bunch of carrots are starting to sound mighty tasty right now, huh?
But wait, there’s more! All this crazy stuff was all about the root, that crazy orange thing that tastes all earthy and bitter. Turns out the greens of the carrot have six times the vitamin C as the root does.
Can I eat or juice any carrot tops?
Like any food, in moderation carrot greens could be an amazing benefit to your health. Now, that isn’t to say you should go out to your local supermarket and find the biggest leafy carrots you can buy. Actually, that would be a pretty bad idea.
The carrots you buy at your local big chain grocery store are more than likely from a big commercially owned farm. Of course, there’s might not be anything wrong with that produce but you really shouldn’t try eating the greens off those guys.
Carrots from big farms like that are going to have some pesticides on them, like any non-organic produce. If you really want to get your carrot greens, try organic carrots, or even better, grow your own!
Can you store carrot greens?
Yes and no. Carrot greens are good at sucking out moisture, and without it they can wilt and get nasty. That’s why most places that sell carrots are going to have those leaves already removed. If they stayed on the roots, the greens would suck all the moisture out of the carrot itself. Once that was gone, the greens would turn to mush.
Cut the greens off the top of your carrots. Then you want to blanch them. Blanching is submerging a food in boiling water for a short time, then moving them to ice water. After they have cooled put them on a towel or in a salad spinner and dry them off.
Afterwards, just wrap them in a paper towel and put them into a plastic baggie either in the fridge or freezer. The blanching process will remove most of the bitterness, too. So, for those of you who don’t like the taste, there is a good way to fix that!
It’s important to note that the greens won’t last long, even in the freezer. You have about a week at most. For the best results though it seems you really want to add them to your juice and smoothies as soon as possible.
What do carrot greens taste like?
Okay, so now we know you won’t die from eating these leafy greens, and it turns out they are amazing. But what do they taste like? Unless your mom never yelled at you to eat those fruits and veggies, you probably already know what a carrot tastes like.
Think of that earthy, almost bitter taste, but then double it. Luckily, if that doesn’t sound very appealing then there’s some hope yet! Juicing carrot tops is the perfect way to get all the nutrients, while reducing some of the possibly-offensive flavor.
How do you juice carrot greens?
Depending on your juicer, you may need to take a few extra steps to prepare your greens. But basically, you simply snap or cut the greens off the tops of your carrots. Wash the greens well to remove any dirt. Then place the greens in your juicer according to the directions. If you need to, you can cut the greens into smaller pieces, but it’s not always necessary. To see the best juicers for leafy greens click here.
It’s just that simple. You can juice as few or as many as you like, but I’d suggest trying just a small amount to begin with.
To break up that bitter taste that some people don’t like, you can add carrot top juice to any other juices. I like to add it to orange, banana, and berry juices, personally.
What can I do with carrot tops? You can use the greens of carrots as a garnish in almost any dish. Cut the leaf part up and put it in your spaghetti or a tasty homemade pesto sauce. You could also just do a simple chicken Alfredo with kale and carrot greens salad.
Is the green part of carrots poisonous? No. The tops of carrots are not poisonous. They are very nutritious. Be aware that wild carrots, also called Queen Anne’s lace, is toxic. Never consume wild carrots.
As you can see, carrots are good for us, and so are the greens. We know that in healthy amounts they could have amazing benefits for every part of us. These colorful little roots and their fluffy tops have a lot to offer, so maybe now you’re not so skeptical and are willing to go out there and make some colorful and healthy juices with this useful vegetable.