Carrot Night 2020. Indoor vs. Outdoor grown carrots. Holy Crap, This One Wasn’t Even Close.

This one is really coming down to the wire. Every vote is going to need to be counted before we will know if the indoor carrots or the outdoor-grown carrots look better. Oh wait, no, it isn’t. Sorry…I was thinking of something else.

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Different varieties of creepy carrots.

Nope, this one wasn’t a close race at all. Grown with the same seeds and the same soil, the outdoor carrots ended up growing way straighter and prettier than the indoor carrots. Which looked like horrible, monstrous, halloween-carrots. In fact, the only carrots that have ever come out of our indoor Tub Garden have been hideous. They’re still delicious, but very ugly. I was a little embarrassed of them, actually.

Some crazy looking indoor grown carrots.
First attempt at Danvers carrots. Eww.

So, after our first attempt at indoor carrots, we decided to do some trials with different varieties to see if that changed anything. Maybe it was just certain varieties that weren’t well-suited to the great indoors? We trialed four varieties of carrots – Long Imperator, Danvers, Romeos and Little Fingers.

And this is what we got. Not much better. Again, they tasted like quality carrots, but still looked like abominations of nature. Only suitable for soups, or other dishes where they would be ground up, or pureed.

Some crazy looking indoor grown carrots
Left, Danvers carrots did the best, but still are something you don’t want to be seen with in public. Right, Romeo carrots, which actually are supposed to look like stubby, baseball carrots. So, well done indoor garden. Kind of.

Frustrated, I started doubting my ability to grow carrots at all. So, when we started a plot at the community garden, I knew this would be a great chance to do some head-to-head comparisons.

You don’t even have to look closely. The inside-grown carrots looked starved or neglected, when compared to the batch grown outdoors. We only tried two varieties outside – Long Imperator and Danvers. They tasted great, and looked pretty glorious. In fact, I was hoping more people were watching as we pulled them out of the ground. We whooped and hollered out in the community garden, but no one seemed to notice.

But just look at these beauties. They taste like carrots and look like carrots. Suitable for crudité presentations, even.

A row of darn-near perfect outdoor grown carrots.
These are the carrots we made the ramen (below) with. So good. So pretty.

Maybe the problem wasn’t the carrots.

But then I realized something. Yes, we were using the same seeds and the same soil, but I had been growing the indoor carrots in my normal indoor gardening fashion. Meaning, I had been starting them as seeds in trays, then transplanting them once they were a few inches tall. This was one step we didn’t do with the outdoor carrots, we just seeded them right into the ground. Could it be, that this was the difference?

So I tried one more time, with some left over Danvers carrot seeds. I sowed them right into the ground. And…

A picture perfect indoor grown carrot covered in dirt
Perfection.

So there it is. Clearly, this little guy was ok with being grown indoors. Maybe there was nothing specific to the indoor garden that was going wrong with the previous carrots. Maybe they just didn’t like getting transplanted. Or maybe being transplanted, plus living a life indoors, together, was too much for the carrots to be delicious and also beautiful.

So it’s time to roll up our sleeves and do some more trials with different varieties again. But this time we will direct seed the carrots, and hopefully get a more cosmetically pleasing batch.

A carrot-centric recipe, for a carrot-centric post.

Until then, here is a carrot-y recipe that uses shredded carrots. (So if yours are ugly, they’ll still do nicely.) It’s an easy and simple vegetable-inspired Ramen bowl, based on a recipe from Killing Thyme. You can pretty much throw in whatever vegetables you have on hand. But I do highly suggest you toss at least a few carrots in.

A bowl of ramen with shredded carrots, a soft boiled egg, scallions and a lime.

And don’t worry, I looked it up. You have to eat a lot of carrots before you start to develop carotenemia, the disorder in which too much beta-carotene builds up in your system and starts to make your skin turn orange. So you look like an oompa loompa. Or a certain politician we have all seen enough of in the news lately. I wonder if that’s what actually got me thinking about carrots in the first place…

A bowl of ramen with shredded carrots, a soft boiled egg, scallions and a lime.
A close up of a bowl of ramen with shredded carrots, a soft boiled egg, scallions and a lime.
A bowl of ramen with shredded carrots, a soft boiled egg, scallions and a lime.
A bowl of ramen with shredded carrots, a soft boiled egg, scallions and a lime.

Easy Weeknight Restaurant Ramen

Course: DinnerCuisine: RamenDifficulty: Easy
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

25

minutes

This yummy ramen dish is easy for a weeknight meal, and you can substitute whatever vegetables you happen to have on hand. This is a very simple, pared-down Ramen recipe inspired by a recipe from Killing Thyme.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger

  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots. Because this is a carrot recipe.

  • 1/2 cup sliced or diced vegetable of your choice here. Mushrooms, snap peas, broccoli. Whatever you have on hand.

  • 4 cups vegetable broth

  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar

  • 3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce, or more to taste

  • 1 Tbsp Sriracha sauce (to taste)

  • 3 packages of Ramen (3 oz each) – discard the flavor packets

  • For the toppings
  • 4 soft-boiled eggs

  • 2 limes, cut into halves

  • 1 cup sliced scallions

  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds

  • 1 cup shredded carrots

Directions

  • In a large saucepan, over medium heat, add the sesame oil and olive oil. Add the garlic and ginger, and heat until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the carrots and mushrooms or broccoli or peas or whatever other ingredients you are using and simmer until they just soften and start to deepen color.
  • Add in the vegetable broth, Sriracha sauce, rice vinegar and soy sauce. Stir, and increase the heat to high until simmering. Add the Ramen noodles into the pot, stir well and allow to simmer (but not boil) for about five minutes more, until the noodles are tender. Remove from heat.
  • Meanwhile, make the soft boiled eggs while the soup cools slightly. In a medium pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the eggs. Return to a boil and allow the eggs to boil for 5 minutes. During this time, prepare an ice bath. When five minutes are done, remove the eggs and immediately plunge them into the ice bath and allow them to cool enough to handle.
  • At this point, transfer your slightly cooler soup and noodles into serving bowls. Peel the eggs, slice them in half, and place them on top of the ramen.
  • Add toppings of your preference into each of the bowls, including more shredded carrots (since this is a carrot recipe), sliced scallions, sesame seeds, and half a lime. Serve immediately.

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