[Sca-cooks] Looking for references to orange carrots

Honour Horne-Jaruk jarukcomp at yahoo.com
Sun Feb 28 16:38:55 PST 2010

Respected friends:

--- On Sun, 2/28/10, Terry Decker <t.d.decker at att.net> wrote:

> > (quoting me)
>    According to the _National Geographic_,
> modern bright-orange sweet carrots occurred as a true
> mutation discovered in an English field in the mid 1700s.
> Because they were so startlingly sweet, they spread like
> wildfire and caused the extinction of hundreds of other
> carrot varieties, including the earlier 'rusty' orange
> carrots, which-- like most carrots in the middle ages--
> weren't at all sweet. 
> Without an attribution or source, I consider the statement
> that orange carrots originating in an English field in the
> mid-1700s doubtful.  All modern orange carrots appear
> to stem from hybrids created in the Netherlands, the
> earliest of which is first described in 1721.  However,
> the orange carrots in the Netherlands appear to pre-date
> their description by at least 100 years.  Evidence of
> orange carrots written in English can be found in James
> Sutherland's Hortus Medicus Edinburgensis of 1683 about
> fifty years prior to the mutation referenced by National
> Geographic.
> And just to make things more fun, John Stolcyzk has located
> a reference in the Bodelian Library, MS Ashmole 1431, folios
> 21v-22r (Bodley Herbal and Bestiary:  MS Bodley 130)
> written around 1100, which pictures orange carrots. 
> The drawings might be an artifact of faded red, but it is
> interesting.
> Bear 
Respected friend:
     Please note that I differentiated between the Netherlands'  orange carrots, which I know quite well existed, and the modern sweet orange carrot. There are an immense variety of shades of orange. Witness this quote from Shakespeare: "The Count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor well, but civil count, civil (Seville) as an orange, and something of that jealous complexion." We now speak of someone being green with envy, but they spoke of yellow- and thought it perfectly reasonable to use an orange as an example of something yellow.  
     The shade commonly called orange in dyer's records in the early modern era we would call brick or rust. Many pictures from that era of food and kitchens show rust-colored carrots.
     However, the primary problem with modern bright-orange carrots is their intense sweetness. That's why some of the period recipes using carrots come out so very, very strange when our sweet carrots are substituted.

Yours in service to both the Societies of which I am a member-
(Friend) Honour Horne-Jaruk, R.S.F.
Alizaundre de Brebeuf, C.O.L. S.C.A.- AKA Una the wisewoman, or That Pict

If you're doing your best, and your best isn't very good, that's life. If you aren't doing your best, _that's cheating_.


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