Wild Carrot Seeds- Spice up your life!

by Ciaran Burke

Daucus carota- Wild carrot seed heads on our road

Adventure, variety and spice. Black tomatoes, orange tomatoes, red brussels sprouts, red onions, blue french beans, just some of the variety of vegetable that we grew in the garden this year. We let two fruit develop on our white fruiting red strawberry, admired the pink flowers on another variety, it is always nice to try something a little bit different.Gardeners are adventurous, always looking to try new varieties of vegetables, different shapes, odd colours and new crops. How about a white carrot?

Daucus carota – wild carrot

Carrots are in the same family as parsnips and celery, Apiacacea, named Daucus carota by the botanists. They grow wild by the sides of the road leading to our house, they have attractive white flower heads and soft ferny foliage. We gathered some seeds a few years ago and sowed some in the garden, they flowered in their second year and then died. Now we have a new batch, self sown and green leaves. Next year they will die. Carrots are biennials, they food that they make in their first growing season is stored in their tap root. The food stored in their roots is high in sugars, that is why we find them tasty. The reserves of food is then used in the following growing season when the plant flowers and makes it fruit which contains the seed, reproduction is hard work.  Such is the biennial cycle, short glorious lives and an abundance of seed is produced which scatters on the wind, ensuring that a new generation of Daucus carota will continue the survival of the species.

The roots of the wild carrots are white, they are smaller than cultivated varieties but taste very similar. Carrots of medieval times were off white like our wild ones and it was during the 16th and 17th centuries that they were bred bigger, fatter, longer and orange. The breeding of bigger orange carrots was apparently carried out in Holland. WIld carrots are quite inferior to the modern varieties  when it comes to harvesting their tap roots, the seed of the wild carrot is however quite a nice spice, like spiced orange.

Flowers of wild carrot

A couple of weeks ago we collected a number of seed heads along our road. Before doing this we took care to ensure the identity of the plants. As always when foraging wild plants it is always essential that you know your plants and with members of this family it is vital that you are 100% sure. The flower heads, or infloresence, are in umbels, often composite umbels and many of the species look quite similar, many of the species are also very poisonous. Fools parsley and hemlock are deadly even in small quantities. So it was armed with a book, Irish Flora by Dr Webb, that we used the botanical key, looking for presence, or absence of brats, hairs on the stems and counting the numbers of flowers that we ensured that we were definitely harvesting wild carrot seeds.

Wild carrot has solid stems and are glabrous, meaning hairless.The flowers are borne in umbels with long numerous bracts which are pinnately divided. When the seeds have formed the flat flower heads the umbels contract into a concave structure.

Harvested wild carrot seed heads

We gathered some handfuls of the wild carrot seeds. Their flavour is unique fruity and spicy, not hot. Hanna used some seeds to bake a cake, it was delcious. Today we decided to use them to flavour our dinner; vegetables in tomato sauce with rice. A trip to the tunnel yielded green and yellow courgette and a handful of tomatoes of various sizes and colours.  Walking through the vegetable garden, some broad beans were picked and an onion pulled. Flavoured with garlic, dried chillis and wild carrots seeds, it was quite delicious.

Vegetables in Tomato and Wild Carrot Seed Sauce.

Ingredients

5 medium tomatoes – chopped

2 cups of courgettes, sliced thinly

  • 1 cup of onion- diced
  • 1/4 cup of broad beans
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • pinch of dried chilli
  • 2 tsp of whole wild carrot seed
  • 1 tsp of ground wild carrot seed (grind with pestle and mortar)
  • Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Rapeseed oil

Courgettes cut into slices

Method

  1. Remove the broad beans from pods and steam for about 5 minutes, until the skins start to crack. Cool the beans by running in some cold water and remove the skins.
  2. Put the oil in a sauce pan and add the whole wild carrot seeds, cook them on a medium heat for a few minutes.

    Removing the seeds

  3. Add the onion and sauté until softened
  4. Crush the garlic and cook for a minute then add the courgette slices, cook for five to seven minutes, until a bit tender
  5. Add the chopped tomato, add the chilli, tea spoon of crushed wild carrot seeds and a pinch of salt. Add some water, about 1/3 of a cup.
  6. cook for about 15 minutes until the tomatoes have reduced and made a nice sauce.
  7. Serve with some boiled brown basmati rice.

Courgettes in tomato sauce with wild carrot seed

We toasted some pumpkin seeds on a frying pan to sprinkle over the top when serving.

4 Comments to “Wild Carrot Seeds- Spice up your life!”

  1. Yum! Lesser hogweed seeds have a sort of orangey, aromatic flavour too. Do you know whether cultivated carrot seeds are the same?

    • Hi Alan, I am sure cultivated carrots will have a similar flavour. I enjoy the flavour of hogweed seeds too, particulaly in my oat biscuits, recipe will be posted here son. Ciaran

  2. Can you not confuse both plants with something poisonous?

  3. That’s for the tip, I’m off seed harvesting as soon as it stops raining!

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