Plant pigments, such as caretenoids, chlorophyl, and anthocyanins, are involved in the function of a plant’s metabolism. As consumers of fruits and vegetables, the compounds found in these different plant pigments not only provide us with nutrition, but many of them also contain antioxidants with anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.
While the visual and dietary appeal of a bowl full of colorful vegetables is undeniable, there’s also a lot of beauty and nutrition to be found in vegetables that exhibit no color at all. White fruits and vegetables also contain plant pigments, such as the flavinoids quercitin and kaempferol, among others. They’re full of numerous vitamins and other nutrients, even though they aren’t full of color.
I’d like to introduce you to a few of my favorite white vegetables for your farm’s garden.
1. Lunar White Carrot
This creamy white carrot is mild-flavored and tender. The roots reach 8 inches long and pack a big crunch. Maturing in about 60 days, Lunar White looks beautiful on a market table or in a CSA box. To keep the shoulders from turning green, hill a little soil up over the crown when the root is as thick as your thumb.
2. Albino Beet
Red beets are certainly more popular than other colors, such as yellow and striped, but few people even know that white beets exist. Albino is pure white and round. It’s best harvested when the root reaches 2 inches in diameter. The pure-white flesh is sweetened by autumn’s first frost, so it makes a terrific fall crop. The greens are edible, as well.
3. White Wonder Cucumbers
These cukes have the look of traditional green cucumbers, but the skin and flesh is bright white. Extremely crisp and high yielding White Wonder should be picked when the fruits are 6 to 8 inches long. Grow them up a trellis to save space. They make delicious pickles.
4. Japanese White Eggplant
Beautiful, egg-shaped fruits are produced on heavy-yielding plants. Each plant bears a dozen or so 2- to 3-inch-wide fruits. Easy to grow in containers or in the garden, Japanese White is a great choice for growers looking for a single-serving-sized eggplant. Their flavor is mild but may get slightly bitter during hot weather.
5. White Hailstone Radish
Although another white radish, Icicle, has become quite popular, White Hailstone hasn’t found the same level of fame. This is an old variety with a mild, crisp flavor that, in my opinion, is even better than Icicle. Grow it in the very early spring or in the late fall for optimum flavor. Although the flavor is fairly mild, it does develop a bit of spice when the weather warms. Like other radishes, they’re ready to harvest in just 35 days.
6. White Beauty Tomato
Of all the white tomatoes I’ve grown, White Beauty (pictured above) remains my favorite beefsteak variety—Snow White is my favorite cherry-type. The thin skin of this gorgeous tomato turns a creamy, very pale yellow when fully ripe. The flavor is divine. White Beauty has been around since the mid-1800s and produces fruits that weigh 1/2 to 1 pound each. The sweetness of the flesh is accentuated by hints of pineapple and citrus.