I cannot tell you how many times I have purchased a bunch of carrots and simply chopped off their top leafy part and tossed it in the compost. Recently, after I received my home delivery of produce, I was about to chop and compost my carrot greens and then…a lightbulb! Maybe the greens are edible! Maybe they are healthy! Maybe they are even tasty! So I hopped onto good ol’ Google and found some mixed messages. On the one hand, carrot greens are touted to be:
- Full of Vitamin K, which is lacking in the carrot itself
- Rich in protein
- Rick in minerals and vitamins
- Loaded with potassium
- High amount of chlorophyll, which has been shown in studies to combat the growth of tumors, as well as having cleansing properties that purify the blood, lymph nodes, and adrenal glands
On the other hand, some claim they are toxic. From what I could tell, the concern over carrot greens comes from their close relatives: poison hemlock, water hemlock, and the wild carrot (a.k.a. Queen Anne’s lace).
According to The World Carrot Museum website, the main reason there is a conflict between whether carrot greens are edible or not is because there are poisonous look-a-likes that are often mistaken for wild carrot. Therefore, you should be certain of what you are eating. Furthermore, the bitter taste that makes some weary is reportedly from the high amount of potassium the greens contain. They also contain flurocoumarins, which may cause an allergic reaction on the skin when touched. According to the World Carrot Museum, this only affects people with allergies to the plant specifically, which are often the same people who have skin allergies to yarrow, ragwort, and chamomile (hopefully you already know if you fit in that category!). The World Carrot Museum website also states:
“The toxicity linked to carrot tops is the same toxicity issue with any greens. That is that all greens contain alkaloids. When you eat the same type of greens all the time (like if you had spinach all the time or carrot tops all the time) then the levels of that plant’s alkaloids starts increasing in your system. Alkaloids are toxic in high amounts. Therefore the rule of thumb is that you need to keep rotating your greens.”
I am not a doctor and cannot speak to which side of the debate is correct. I can say, however, that I ate them, felt great, and thought they were delicious. If you are in any way hesitant or concerned, please ask a health professional.
In any event, I used my carrot greens to make a pesto. They tasted a bit like parsley and went really well with quinoa, black beans and roasted vegetables (beets, broccoli and rainbow carrots).
- Roughly chopped carrot greens
- A couple cloves of garlic
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 2-3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I am estimating here, I did not write down exact measurements but you can start with less and add as needed)
Pulse until well mixed and add to vegetables, fish, meat, pasta, whatever you’d add a pesto to!
Other ways to use carrot greens include:
- Homemade mouthwash (carrot greens contain antiseptic qualities)
- Mixed in with a mixed green salad
- Add to coleslaw
- Use for garnish