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The return of the purple carrot

April 11th, 2011 · 31 Comments

I was doing the weekly gorcery shop last night and in the fruit and vegie section of my local coles (Stanhope Gardens in Sydney) sitting beside the ordinary orange carrots which were $1.98/kg there were these deep purple/black root vegetables that looked like carrots.  Upon closer inspection they were called “Purple Carrots” and looked identical to carrots except for the colour and cost $3.98/kg.  I bought some out of curiosity since I quite like carrots.  I took some photos of them below:

Purple carrot

When I tasted them I found that they tasted exactly like normal carrots.  If you had a blindfold on someone, I doubt that they would be able to tell that the carrot was any different from any normal carrot.  Upon doing some research I found that Purple carrots far from being a new hybrid type of carrot are actually a old type of carrot and are what carrots were originally like 5000 years ago in Afghanistan.  The orange carrot was actually bred from the original purple carrots by the dutch so the vegetable we have come to know as a carrot is actually a decendant from the original purple carrots not the other way around.  There is some great information on the history of carrots in the Carrot Museum (Reference).

Most images on the internet of purple carrots if you look them up will show a carrot with a purple exterior and an orange interior, e.g.:

Whereas the purple carrots I got from coles were purple all the way though.  Interestingly the purple carrots Coles is currently selling are not even available online as they don’t appear on their web site:

It seems that in the last half of 2010 carrot growers in Tasmania put in a 60 tonne test planting of a breed called “Deep Purple” (Reference), and it is these that coles are selling.

The purple colouring is a similar compound to the blue and red colourings that occur in Blueberries and Raspberries and have very strong antioxidant properties.  There are also purple breeds of potatoes such as purple congo (Reference):

And purple cauliflower, though by all accounts these trun green when you cook them (Reference):

So if you wanted to have a Meat and purple 3 vege you could.  I am not sure why the purple cauliflower would go green when you cook them as the purple potato does not (eg when you cook and mash it).

Regardless it is all very cool.

Edit Note (3rd May, 2011):

I was speaking to someone at work about purple vegetables and how they change colour when you cook them, and he said that if you cook them with bicarb soda in the boiling water it helps them to keep their colour.  I haven’t tried this my self but it is something to keep in mind.

Tags: Blogging · Review

31 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Desley // Apr 26, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    I just tried a purple carrot – also bought from Coles. I tried it raw. I didn’t think it tasted quite like an orange carrot but it was better (if that is possible). I am cooking it now will keep you informed.


  • 2 Renee // Apr 27, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    I also bought a purple carrot out of curiosity from Coles. I used it in a chicken soup tonight – big mistake! The whole soup is an unattractive purple colour… like some kind of halloween dish. But as you say, tastes the same!

  • 3 Ivan Mc Conaghie // Apr 30, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Reciently a nurse told me about an experiment with Mice that had sever Arthrits .
    They gave these mice consentrated Purple Carriot Juice, and guess what ? They made a full recovery . True story.
    Now I wonder if will work on humans ?

  • 4 FastLife // May 3, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    I am interested to hear how your cooking of the purble carrots turned out Desley. While I didn’t personally find the taste to be much different I did find them a bit dryer than the normal orange carrots.

    Your experience with them in your chicken soup Renee made me laugh. I could only imagine what deep purple chicken soup must have looked like.

    Yes Ivan, I have read a little bit about the antioxidant properties of the purple colouring in the carrots, mainly how it is similar to that found in blue berries which is reportedly very potent. Since carrots, and presumably these purple carrots, are less expensive than blue berries and available over a longer season it may be a very good way of getting this form of antioxidant in larger amounts.

  • 5 Marion Diamond // May 22, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    I bought a bunch at Woolworths this morning. They look much more like those in the photos – purple outside, yellow core and somewhat woody. Raw, they tasted less interesting than a carrot (which is a pretty low bar in the first place) so I went Googling and found an experiment on rats at USQ which claims that when added to the diet of rats, they reduced weight loss, and reference to a story on A Current Affair about that.

    But they still tasted terribly dreary – maybe the rats just got bored and stopped eating.

  • 6 jane // Jun 22, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    I tried purple carrots last night for the first time. I put them in a stew which turned it very dark but not in a bad way – just different from usual – mine were form Woolworths and were dark purpley-red on the outside and white inside. To me they tasted just like orange carrots and having read the potential health benefits of them now I will probably stick with them as long as they are available. They are more expensive but I don’t buy so many carrots that the difference will break the bank. Weird that Woolworths labelled them though as ‘Dutch Carrots’. I read that it was the Dutch qho took middle-eastern purple carrots and bred orange ones from them about 500 years ago, so the orange carrots were really Dutch, and the purple ones were persian. Still, its nice to have a change thats natural.

  • 7 Charles // Jun 29, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Can anyone tell me where I can buy purple carrots…As Coles do not stock them anymore.
    Thanks a lot

  • 8 Coral // Jul 7, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    I found purple carrot today at a local Patons Big Guns grocer.
    I bough a couple to try and loved them. Did a quick google (that’s how I found your blog) and found loads of info about them and their benefits.

  • 9 Coral // Jul 7, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    They’re great raw, on their own , in a salad for a bit of colour, cook well too. Great in a raw beetroot and carrot salad

  • 10 Lizzie // Jul 8, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    I grew purple carrots but when I cooked them, the cooking water had turned emerald green!
    Any one have any ideas why???

    PS. Charles, grow your own purple carrots! Easier, cheaper, better for you.

  • 11 FastLife // Jul 8, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    That is cool that you grew some purple carrots your self Lizzie. Where did you get the seeds from? What part of the world are you located in?

    The colour change you saw Lizzie is because of the nature of the coloured compounds. Pigments are coloured because they absorb photons of particular wavelenghts of light. Any remaining wavelengths that are not absorbed by the pigment are reflected. So the colour we see when looking at coloured plants is white light (usually from the sun) minus the wavelenghts that were absorbed. The purple pigments in purple carrots are a family of molecules called anthocyanins. They are water soluble so they leech out into the cooking water when you are cooking them. They are also sensitive to pH and metal ions. So once they are out of the plant the pigments can be changed such that they don’t absorb the same wavelengths of light any more. Usually cooking water is basic so you could potentially keep the colour more purple by adding vineger or lemon juice.

    Yes Coral, there are quite a few web sites up these days on the benifits of purple fruit and vegetables. More often than not they are just in the form of news paper articles, ie making broad suggestions of the benifits but quoting no sources for that information and giving no details. One of these days I will have to pull together the actual research articles on the benifits of these things.

  • 12 Lizzie // Jul 11, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Thanks Fastlife! Awesome! Now I can sleep at night! I used seedlings but the seeds are now readily available. I live in coastal Adelaide but the soil I used is a soil mix with my own comopost.
    Thanks again!!

  • 13 Karen // Oct 4, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    I too brought the purple carrots (from a local grocer). We always honey our carrots to cook & found these need less honey than the orange ones and didn’t have that bitter bite to the skin. Ours stayed purple, so I can’t help but wonder if the colour change is caused by using chlorinated (bleach) town water, as we are on tank water. The water was also a beautiful deep dark purple, just like beetroot juice. The kids gobbled them up in no time 🙂

  • 14 Cherie // Nov 6, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    The purple carrots that have been stocked by Coles this year were grown by Premium Fresh Tasmania and supplied exclusively to Coles during the Tasmanian carrot season (Jan – June 2011). The variety is known as Deep Purple and has high levels of anthocyanins. The variety stocked by Woolies is probably another variety called Purple Haze which is orange in the centre, rather than being purple all the way through. (They were called dutch carrots because the green tops were left attached – nothing to do with the origins of the orange carrot). Growers in Qld have trialled growing commercial quantities of the Deep Purple variety during the second half of this year to fill the gap in supply when the Tasmanian season finishes. The product seems to grow best in Tasmanian conditions though, so this variety may end up only being available for 6 months a year. I understand the product will be available in Coles stores nationally from late January 2012.

  • 15 FastLife // Nov 7, 2011 at 11:12 am

    That is really interesting, thanks Cherie. And I am also happy that the trial was a success and that they will be continuing to stock the deep purple carrot at coles (as the Tasmanian Season allows).

  • 16 Kahu // Dec 6, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Hi there, Im making daily fresh juice with purple carrots and Im cooking Stir Frys, making salads the works…lol The ONLY reason Im using these is I heard they are better for us due to the antioxidants – True???
    Anyway, raw they taste similar to a normal orange carrot. I will say though, my 2 year old now has her daily intake of veges and fruit thanks to the juice and she loves the idea of the PURPLE CARROT lol

  • 17 Clare // Dec 18, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Have been growing purple vegies in my yard for a few years now – carrots, potatoes, broccoli, caulies, beans and purple-podded peas!BTW the deep purple cultivar is an F1 hybrid – so can’t save your own seeds from it. The cosmic puple, purple dragon and puple haze types breed true.

  • 18 Clare // Dec 18, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    Oh just thought I’d add that if you wanted the deep purple carrot seeds you can get them from Cornucopia Seeds, or Greenharvest seeds. The other types of purple carrots (with the orange centres) can be got through most online seed nurseries and I think they even stock them at Bunnings.

  • 19 Harold // Jan 22, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    Read some of the articles that has been posted here as it was interesting reading them as I seen them for the first time today as they were selling them for about $1.00 kg at Flemington markets Sydney. Hope this can help anyone here in the purple carret power……..hehe

  • 20 Jenny Haskins // Jan 24, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    I bought the purple/burgundy black carrots from Coles and found them absolutely delicious raw.

    While they had a certain carrotty taste they were much sweeter, crisp and far juicier than any ‘orange’ carrot I have ever tasted.

    I would say that the taste is more like a beetroot without the ‘earthy’ taste that spoils beetroots.

    When one wilted I cut it up and put it in cold water to re-crisp. It coloured the water bright red, and left me with a delicious drink 🙂

    Now just to find them to grow, since Coles have stopped stocking them 🙁

  • 21 Jenny Haskins // Jan 24, 2012 at 2:03 pm


    I bought some orange centred-seedlings from Bunnings, tasted the leaves and they seem like a mild parsley. Now just to see if they survive my tender care 🙁

  • 22 VICKI // Mar 27, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    I make a wonderful purple salad with – purple carrots, purple cabbage, red / purple salad onions and red capsicum with a couple of cherry tomatoes thrown in. I have a machine called a ‘thermomix’ and just blend them into a chunky salad. I suppose you could just chop everything up by hand for the same effect. I also juice purple carrots in my daily afternoon vegie juice.

  • 23 Ausheaven // May 19, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    I wonder if you drink too much of the purple carrot would you turn purple just like what the normal (orange) carrot did to me ??
    Would be weird walking around !!!.

  • 24 Veni Singh // Jun 5, 2012 at 3:04 am

    I was amazed to see purple carrots at our local supermarket. I bought a packet and mixed it with the orange carrots in a salad. I would very much like to try the purple cauliflower.

  • 25 azz // Jul 16, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    I’ve been using purple carrots in my juices in the morning as part of my arthritis treatment it really adds body and colour to my fruit juices.
    Unfortunately I’ve been told coles will no longer be getting them from the supplier.
    Hopefully I’ll find another stockist in Melbourne. As its really helped with my arthritis.

  • 26 FastLife // Jul 17, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Hi Azz, That is interesting about purple carrots helping your arthritis. If you wanted to carrots are quite easy to grow from seed. If you put the top of your purple carrots into a saucer with some wet paper towel on it the carrot will sprout leaves and eventually little rootlets. Once the leaves have started to grow you can plant remaining carrot just slightly under the top of the soil. You will not grow a new carrot as the carrot its self is a modification of its own tap root for storage and they only grow one of them. But what they will grow is the above ground plant part. If you leave them for long enough they will eventually grow flowers and then seeds. Collect the seeds when they are ripe and allow them to dry on a tissue on the window sill for a few days. In spring you could plant them by making shallow furrows in the soil and sprinkling the seeds in them. When these seeds sprout they will send down a central tap root which will be come a new purple carrot. A bit more fiddly than buying them in the supermarket, but at least you would not be at the mercy of whether or not Coles decides to stock them.

  • 27 Lizzy (Good Things) // Sep 2, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Hello! Have just discovered your blog…very interesting indeed.

  • 28 Monica // Apr 5, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    Interesting reading our posts. I am looking for purple carrots in Sydney. On a recent visit to Adelaide I bought some at a greengocer’s in Modbury. I want to get them in Sydney. Please help.

  • 29 Corinne // Aug 26, 2013 at 12:48 am

    I brought these purple carrots, today & steamed them for about 7 mins , just so weird to see the water purple
    I personally think they taste much sweeter than the orange type..
    I’m going to make a casserole with them and see how it turns out,
    I will diffently be using them instead of the orange ones just because of the extra taste

  • 30 John // Nov 17, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    You can have purple, orange, white and yellow carrots.
    It doesn’t matter too much about the colour, just keep eating them for the good of your health.
    Add some greens at the same time.

  • 31 Wendy // Feb 24, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    Hi I was trying to find them as well i did find some of the purple carrots in coles in Swan Hill Vic but i cant get them all the time so i went looking for the seeds & found a seller on eBay so try this site.
    http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Heirloom-Purple-68-Carrots-keeps-its-colour-50-Seeds-Very-Rear-AU-SELLER-/272100684849?hash=item3f5a76f431 the seller is called 2green-frogs so check this out.

    I wish you all the best with your hunt

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