Carrot Top Flop?

This is my first year growing carrots and I’ve been surprised by how verdant the greens have remained through the North Carolina heat. Sunday, I dug up a few carrots, leaving me with a mass of tops.

Not one to casually discard anything even possibly edible, I wondered what one could do with these carrot greens. After reading this Times’ piece, I was afraid to go near them. Indeed many folks say carrot tops are toxic (much like the like-named comedian’s routine).

But if the World Carrot Museum says they’re edible, that’s good enough for me. After consulting a few food sites, it seems like the main options are:

  • salad filler
  • juicer fodder
  • cooked into soups
  • parsley substitute

I’m not a juicer owner or a fan of summer soups, so I’ve only tried the latter two. And, frankly, I was not impressed. This excerpt from a Chowhound thread summed it up for me:

I used to have rabbits, and even *they* wouldn’t eat carrot greens. They had pretty good taste.

My question to you, dear reader: Any ideas?? Have you found a good use for carrot tops?

(image by Carly & Art via Creative Commons)

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17 Comments

  1. Posted July 19, 2010 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    I have not! I’d totally compost them. :)

  2. Posted July 19, 2010 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    I have always been in the toxic camp so I’m curious to see if you survive. From my mushroom experience many perfectly edible things are listed as poisonous (many that 20yrs ago were not “poisonous”). Reasons behind the poison status vary but most commonly someone somewhere likely had a reaction granting the blanket poison status to cover the publishers arse. Many “poisonous” things will just upset your stomach but others will destroy your liver or kill you… With carrots the caution mainly seems to be the look-a-like and wild varieties more than the garden variety (namely parsnip, wild carrots, and queen anne’s lace). I’m intrigued and excited to have another green to save.

    I think a cold carrot green cucumber soup would be pretty nice.

  3. Belleln
    Posted July 19, 2010 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Finely snipped as garnish for soup & salad; rough chop in stir frys, soups and stews; cut off with about 1/4″ of carrot and used in flower arrangements (carrot part seems to keep them alive); compost.

    Been using carrot tops as food for over 30 years and we’re still here.

  4. Posted July 19, 2010 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Kristen–I’m sure I’ll end up composting some of mine, too…

    Christopher–appreciate your willingness to have me act as a human guinea pig! I agree with your thoughts on the use of the word “poisonous” and that idea for a carrot green/cuke soup is great, because I have a surplus of the latter (and it’s a cold soup!)

    BellIn–I like the stir fry idea. And between you and me, there were carrot greens in my wife’s wedding bouquet.

  5. Kaylen
    Posted July 19, 2010 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    My mum used to put them in chicken soup to add a bit of peppery taste. I’ve tried using them as one of the greens in saag paneer but didn’t like it much.

    I compost them.

  6. Posted July 19, 2010 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    I usually leave my carrot tops in the garden, in a sacrificial heap for the groundhog who visits my garden.
    I do occasionally use young carrot greens as a parsley substitute, or eat them along with the carrot itself. But I think the groundhog likes the greens more than I do.

  7. Julius
    Posted July 20, 2010 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    I sometimes eat them and I’m still alive…

    There’s not usually that much of them to deal with, so I’ve not tried eating them as a vegetable by themselves. I usually chop them up thoroughly and use them as, well, green sprinkles in something where you don’t really notice – such as tomato sauce, or indeed soups. Throwing them in with the bones when making stock sounds like a good idea too, I haven’t tried that.

    The stuff on that carrot museum site is a bit dodgy though. I’m sure the recipes are fine, and they do seem to be correct in saying they’re edible, but all the claims about nutritional/medicinal properties are making my quack-o-meter twitch quite badly.

  8. Posted July 20, 2010 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    I’ve now had two salads with the stuff mixed in and am, as far as I know, still alive. I can’t say my taste buds are any better for the experience, but they weren’t horrible. Then again, I tend to enjoy salads with bitter greens–turnip greens, late season arugula–which earns me strange looks in my household. I wouldn’t go out of my way to have a carrot top salad, but it was better than using them as fake parsley.

  9. Posted July 20, 2010 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    Julian–I didn’t look at too much else on the Carrot Museum site outside of their take on eating carrot tops. So I wouldn’t bet my life on their non-quackiness. Then again, if it’s on the Web it has to be true, right??
    (or not)

  10. April
    Posted July 21, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    Horses love ‘em!

  11. Posted July 26, 2010 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    I mostly feed mine to the chickens, but when I make soup stock I throw them all in. If you don’t feel like making soup now you can throw them all into a freezer container until you feel the urge to make soup stock. Heck you can even throw in your onion skins and other bits you don’t care to eat and wait ’til winter.

  12. RR
    Posted July 30, 2010 at 12:07 am | Permalink

    One of my favourite childhood cookbooks (The Pooh Cookbook) has a lovely recipe for tea made with carrot tops. They were to be washed and steeped and the resulting brew served with honey. No, I never did try it.

  13. Posted August 9, 2010 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm… I think we may try to make some dehydrated veggie “burgers” this year with some carrot tops. Ours seem a little prickly to eat raw in a salad so the burgers might work if we hide enough other stuff in there with them. We’ll let you know…and thanks for the idea!

  14. Posted August 10, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    If you don’t fancy summer soups, you could always freeze them and use them in autumn and winter soups. I made a tomato-based stew with some carrot greens in it last week and we are all still alive. My toddler quite liked the stew.

    I like the stir-fry idea, but I would also consider adding them to a dahl or a sauce as part of a curry meal.

    (I use radish greens in tomato-ey soups and stews and curries, too, and they are very nice.)

  15. Nancy
    Posted July 29, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    I have a friend who has a rabbit, and the rabbit always eats my greens. I’ve tried them in soups, etc. and never liked them either. I may try them in a smoothie someday now that I have a high powered blender.

  16. amanda
    Posted November 3, 2012 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    i like to cut my carrot tops off and put them in a vase with water. then they’ll stay fresh until i can get them over to a friend’s house that has goats. the goats LOVE them.

  17. Posted June 5, 2013 at 12:45 am | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing your info. I truly appreciate your efforts and I am waiting for
    your next write ups thanks once again.

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  1. [...] from the role that consumers and restaurants play – to productive ways that people can use every part of a vegetable. He even asks  his readers what their favorite food waste related songs are, his is the Black [...]

  2. [...] from the role that consumers and restaurants play – to productive ways that people can use every part of a vegetable. He even asks  his readers what their favorite food waste related songs are, his is the Black [...]

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