Purple carrots are traditionally grown in the Alentejo region of southern Portugal, particularly near Castro Verde. The Alentejo purple carrot is planted in August and harvested from October to November. It grows best in sandy soils.
The Alentejo purple carrot has a thick, tapered root that is purple on the outside and orange on the inside. It is best preserved in the fridge or, like in the old times, in hay. Alentejo purple carrots can be eaten raw or cooked. Traditionally, they were added to omelettes or boiled and seasoned with vinegar.
This special carrot is connected with many rituals and folk festivals, like the feast of Saint Sebastian. It is celebrated annually in Almodôvar on January 15 and in Castro Verde on January 20. There is a traditional belief that “pigs cannot be slaughtered without the purple carrot.” Although it once played an important role in the local food culture, production of the Alentejo purple carrot has recently plummeted, making it increasingly difficult to find on the market. Today, only two or three farmers still grow the Alentejo purple carrot, and it faces the threat of extinction.