Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Some of my older SCA vegetable research part 1


A Profile of the

Carrots belong to the species Daucus carota which exhibits great diversity in the form of both its roots and flowers (Brandenburg 1981).
Afghanistan is considered to be the region from which carrots spread to the rest of the world (Banga 1957). Where it spread through Arab expansion (Banga 1957). Recent research indicates that wild carrot subspecies native to Europe influenced the development of European carrots through natural cross-pollination; the main influence appears to be the presence of carrot varieties with fleshy white roots (Brandenburg 1981).
The following description from "Le Menagier de Paris" gives an excellent account of the use of carrots in Medieval France:
“take carrots as many as you wish, and when they are well cleaned and chopped in pieces, cook them like the turnips. (Carrots are red roots which are sold at the Halles in baskets, and each basket costs one blanc.)” “TURNIPS; you remove the head, the tail and other whiskers and roots, then they are peeled, then wash in two or three changes of hot water, very hot, then cook in hot meat stock, pork, beef or mutton. (Le Menager de Paris)”

AERTSEN, Pieter Market Woman with Vegetable Stall
1567. Orange and Red carrots can be seen in this image.
O Staatliche Museen, Berlin

Parsnips and Skirret
Despite some similarities skirret and parsnip are both different vegetables to carrots. It must be noted however that in part of our time period the term pastinaca could refer to parsnips, carrots or Skirret, so try to read with the context and any description in mind. 

Some available Pre-Orange varieties

Dragon (Purple Dragon): Reddish purple exterior with amazing contrasting yellow orange interior. Sweet almost spicy flavour.

Carrot Purple Dragon

Bright yellow Heirloom Carrot from Slovenia similar in size to a Scarlet Nantes but with taller tops. It has a mild and sweet flavour.

Flemish white
Flemish heirloom white carrot first recorded in gardens of the 1500’s May be the same or similar to White Belgian 

Dragon is a stunning carrot to look at and although cooking dulls the reddish purple colour to red brown they still stand out amongst orange carrots both in colour and in taste. Lubyana is also a delicious carrot and has a pale colour the texture is slightly coarser, making this carrot a perfect candidate for stews and casseroles.
I would definitely recommend these varieties for taste and appearance. While the origins of Dragon are unknown it exhibits the colour of medieval carrots, being red ( or purple), While it may not be a variety from this period, it is an older variety which is likely to be descended from the period forms and would prove a good substitute in the garden and Kitchen.


  • Banga O 1957 “Origin of the European cultivated carrot” Euphytica, Issue Volume 6,  Number 1 / February, 1957 Pages 54-63

  • Harvey John 1995 “An Elizabethan Seed-List” Garden History, Vol. 23, No. 2 (Winter, 1995), pp. 242-245

  • Brandenburg W A 1981 “Possible relationships between wild and cultivated carrots (Daucus carota L.) In the Netherlands”     Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution, Vol 29, No 1, pp 369-375.

  • Interactions between wild and cultivated carrots (Daucus carota L.)
In the Netherlands
E.H.M. Wijnheijmerl, W.A. Brandenburg' and S .J. Ter Bor Euphytica 40: 1 47-154 (1989)
  • Cook E, Friedman D,  Hinson J Le Menagier de Paris  Le Menagier de Paris Translation from the French edition of Jerome Pichon published in 1846. Footnotes marked JP are by him; those marked JH are by Janet Hinson, the translator; those marked DDF and EGC are by David Friedman and Elizabeth Cook, respectively.

 -Richard Gardiner, Profitable instnuctionsfor the manuring, sowing, and  planting of kitchen gardens, 1599;

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