A couple of weeks ago, with the best of intentions, I bought a bag of gorgeous heirloom carrots from the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market. I love the idea of using heirloom varieties of produce as often as they are available!
A heirloom variety seed means that it was commonly used and farmed many years ago, and those same varieties have been passed down from generation to generation. The original seed’s genes/traits are kept intact by dedicated farmers in smaller agri operations and gardeners, and often a product of open pollination practices.
Imagine that! REAL bugs doing buggy things and pollinating plants! Those little matchmakers! Hurray for Ma Nature.
Most produce comes from seeds that are genetically engineered for characteristics that we typically find ‘attractive’, like specific flesh and rind colours, textures, as well as improved transportability - being able to keep on the long treks from farm to grocery store and into your kitchen. So something about the heirloom varieties feels a little more homey and traditional; more natural. The way fruits and veggies are meant to be!
Anyway, about my lovely carrots. They’re beautiful, in hues of deep purple, yellow and vibrant orange. They were so pretty, that I had convinced myself that I had to do something really spectacular looking with them. Nevermind that they are so sweet and tender; I felt like I needed to primp these up like the little beauty queens they were!
Two weeks went by and they were still sitting around, unused, and batting their eyelashes at me. And by eyelashes I mean sprouts. I left them sitting around for so long that they had actually started to re-grow leaves and sprout. Alright, ladies, point taken.
Because I have very little self-control around baked goods, I ruled out making carrot cake. My gym isn’t open enough hours in the day to offset the damage I can do when left home alone with a whole cake.
Maybe soup? Soup and I are on a break. No soup for me (insert angry Seinfeld-character accent here).
I started thinking back to the sweet potato bars that I made a few weeks ago, and how freaking tasty even the plain sweet potato puree was before I added it to the other ingredients….hmmm….so away me and the pretty carrots went. It was go time.
This creation was a shot in the dark. Although it might not do the beautiful heirloom carrots any physical justice, this stuff is goooooood. A sweet carrot puree, spiced warmly with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a touch of maple syrup that your morning oats, yogurt, and pancakes are just dying to be slathered in. I even had it on toasted brown bread with a smear of cream cheese…heavenly. Stir it into some cottage cheese and sprinkle with walnuts and coconut…bam. A healthy bowl of carrot cake cheesecake.
Don’t give me a hard time about this maybe not being a typical ‘butter’ because clearly, it’s not! It’s more of a carrot sauce (as the texture is just like applesauce) but I couldn’t bring myself to slap that handle on it. Carrot sauce sounds about as appealing as a punch in the gut. So Spiced Carrot Butter it is!
Spiced Carrot Butter
Yield – About 2 cups
2 cups carrots, organic preferred
3/4 cup orange or apple juice (I used orange)
1.5 cups water, approx
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1-2 tbsp maple syrup (or brown sugar)
Peel, wash, and chop the carrots. Put them in a heavy-bottomed pot and add juice, and enough water to just cover them. I had to use about 1.5 cups of water to get them submerged. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer. You need to keep an eye on them at this point, checking in to make sure they have just enough water to boil in, but not much more. Add water little by little as necessary until all the carrots are cooked through and tender. They will be easy to pierce with a fork when they’re all done. Take them off the burner, and let them sit for a few minutes to cool down. Putting hot liquids in a blender is something to avoid if you can!
Pour the carrots, their liquid, and the maple syrup in to the blender. Puree the carrots, adding water (only if needed) little by little until it begins to blend and form a thick puree. You might have to pulse/scrape down the sides of the blender to ensure that everything gets mixed up without having to add too much liquid. Once it’s to the consistency of a thick applesauce, pour it back into your pot and add the spices, stirring, and taste testing along the way. Everyone likes different levels and types of spice, so this part is really up to you! The recipe above shows (about) what I put in mine.
Now I’m no ‘canner’ so I just made sure to put this in a clean mason jar, and will be keeping it in the fridge; I’m thinking it’ll keep for a week or two.