As my wife & I were having salad for dinner last night, my curiosity got piqued as I was about to add some baby carrots into the mix. “What’s that white stuff showing up on my baby carrots?”, I asked. Seriously, what is it really? I say seriously because, when you talk about carrot-themed misconceptions, the old “carrots help you see in the dark” sits at the top of the list. But, not too far behind that, there’s the myth that the white stuff that sometimes shows up on baby carrots is chlorine. Thankfully, that’s not true. But, like plenty of other rumors, it IS rooted in fact.
In case you didn’t know, baby carrots are actually just pared-down regular-sized carrots, usually made from irregularly-shaped full carrots. Newly-made baby carrots get rinsed in a highly diluted chlorine solution to kill bacteria, which is a process recommended by the FDA to mitigate the risk of food-borne illness. But that chlorine solution ultimately gets washed off with tap water before the baby carrots get bagged. So, if that’s the case (which it is), then what is the white stuff then?
Well, that “white blush” (or “carrot blush”, as it’s sometimes called) is actually unrelated to chlorine, mold, or any other toxic substance. Whole carrots have a fairly thick skin that can retain water, but baby carrots (being pared down from whole carrots) are more exposed to the air. And, when they lose too much moisture, their outer layers start to look white. So, in other words, that white stuff is merely a sign of dehydration. All you need to do is soak them in water to rehydrate them & restore their color. Seriously, it’s that easy.
Now, once you’ve soaked your baby carrots, if they still show signs of that white blush then there could be a different issue (possibly damage to the baby carrot’s exterior). You see, the baby carrots’ cells respond to stress with a process that produces lignin, a polymer which forms on the surface of the baby carrot that also happens to look white. The good news, however, is that your baby carrots are still perfectly safe to eat.
So, remember: white spots on your baby carrots = totally fine. Blue, purple, green, or any other color, however…well, you probably just need to get new carrots.
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