Vitamin A is derived from beta-carotene and carrots are the leading source of this substance in the American diet. In fact, carotenoids, the group of plant pigments of which beta-carotene is a member, are so named because they were first identified in carrots. This ever-popular vegetable is also a source of disease-fighting flavonoids, and carrots contain a specific type of fiber, called calcium pectate, which may lower blood cholesterol. With the exception of beets, carrots contain more sugar than any other vegetable, which makes them a satisfying snack eaten raw and a tasty addition to a variety of cooked dishes. In fact, some of the nutrients in carrots are more easily absorbed when the vegetable has been cooked, even briefly. The carrot belongs to the Umbelliferae family, and is recognizable by its feathery leaves as a relative of parsley, dill, fennel, celery, and the wildflower Queen Anne's Lace, from which it first may have been domesticated. In earlier times, carrots were small red, yellow, or purple roots; the elongated orange carrot, forerunner of today's familiar vegetable, was probably developed in the seventeenth century. Varieties There are many varieties of carrots, but most of those grown for the American market are 7" to 9" long and 3/4" to 1 1/2" in diameter; carrots of this type are commonly sold in plastic bags at the supermarket. Some stores also offer bunches of carrots with their green tops attached. You may see some less familiar varieties at your local farmstand or farmer's market, including short, fat (but deliciously sweet) Chantenay carrots and small round carrots that are a treat for the kids. Large carrots are sometimes peeled and trimmed to 1 1/2" to 2" lengths and packaged as "baby" carrots. But true baby carrots are pulled from the ground early, and actually look like miniature carrots. They are sold in specialty shops or local markets, usually with their green tops attached. Source: http://www.wholehealthmd.com/refshelf/foods_view/1,1523,14,00.html Extract The distilled or evaporated oils of foods or plants (such as nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, bark, buds, roots, leaves, meat, poultry, seafood, fish, dairy foods, or eggs) that are dissolved in an alcohol base or allowed to dry to be used as a flavoring. Food extracts as they are often labeled, are used to add a concentrated flavor to many food dishes, especially baked goods and desserts, without adding additional volume. Available in solid (cubes, granules or powdered), liquid or jelled form, extracts may be labeled as pure, natural or artificial. Pure and natural extracts are governed by laws in many countries that require compliance with procedures that take the extract ingredients directly from the named flavor, such as extracting oils directly from the vanilla bean to make pure or natural vanilla extract. Artificial extracts are flavors that do not necessarily use any ingredients directly from a source named for the extract but instead used combinations of ingredients to arrive at a flavor representative of the named food extract, such as artificial lemon extract. Some of the most widely used extracts include vanilla, almond, anise, maple, peppermint, and numerous solid or jelled extracts such as beef and chicken bouillon or meat demi-glaces. As an example of how the pure and natural extract is made, vanilla extract is created by soaking vanilla beans in water and an alcohol-based solution where it ages for several months, during which time the vanilla flavor is extracted from the bean. Anise extract, a sweet licorice tasting flavoring, is produced by dissolving the oil of anise seeds into alcohol. Grape extract is produced to assist with the wine making process. Compounds from the skin of grapes are extracted and added to the wine in order to impart tannin, color, and body into a wine. The characteristics of the wine can be changed dramatically by the amount of time the wine is in contact with the skins. If the grapes are in contact for too long, the resulting wine may be too potent, or what is sometimes called â€œover-extractedâ€�. Juices of fruits and vegetables are often extracted as juice extracts to be used similar to other food extracts, as a flavoring when preparing foods. A common utensil for the purpose of extracting lemon juice is available to assist with home recipes requiring a lemon flavoring.