Planted some carrots but worried about having too much to harvest?
Perhaps you purchased a bushel of carrots but do not have the faintest idea how to keep them fresh for long term use?
Carrots are one of the most nutritious root vegetables. However, without the know-how of proper long-term storage, you can end up putting its health benefits to waste.
How to store carrots? You can store carrots in your home in several places—in the basement, in a root cellar, in the fridge, or the freezer. Before storing in any of these places, though, remove the green tops. Carrots are plant roots, and the green carrot tops will continue to pull moisture from these roots until you separate them by cutting. If you don’t do this, your carrots will dry out and limp.
How do you store carrots for a long time?
One way to store carrots for a very long time is by keeping them in a freezer.
Since freezing is a very straightforward procedure, we will be discussing it along with the other easy methods in the next section.
A tested procedure for extending carrot shelf life to more than a year is called dehydration, which means you have to remove most of its moisture content.
Even after the removal of moisture, dehydrated carrots can maintain much of their nutritional value.
The recommended carrot dehydration equipment includes an oxygen absorber, a vacuum sealer, a handy dehydrator, some zip-top plastic bags, and a couple of airtight containers.
Different Ways on How to Store Carrots
If you do not have access to a dehydrator and a vacuum sealer, you can keep your carrots fresh in several other ways.
Any of the following procedures produce the best results only if you remove the green tops of carrots.
These storage procedures work well not only with ordinary carrots but also with baby carrots.
Carrots can last up to five days unrefrigerated and in a cool, dry, ventilated area away from other fruits and vegetables.
Avoid leaving carrots inside the plastic bag it came in because it will trap the moisture and start to spoil your carrots.
After removing the tops from unwashed carrots, wrap them in damp paper towels and tightly seal them in zip-top bags before storing them in the fridge.
Choose the coolest part of your refrigerator for bag-sealed carrot storage.
If you have a frost-free freezer-fridge combo, it’s more likely that temperatures throughout the inside of your fridge are consistent.
Carrots appropriately stored in the fridge can last about four weeks.
Storage Box with Moist Sand
Before deciding to store your carrots using more complicated procedures, you may want to use your root cellar or basement.
Get a large container and some moist sand. Lay down the carrots inside the storage box and cover them with sand.
You can do this in layers as long as none of the carrots are visible.
Your carrots can stay fresh for a few months as long as you keep the sand moist.
Why is blanching an essential step for storing carrots before freezing, canning, pickling, or drying?
Blanching prepares the carrot slices for long term use by stopping all enzyme activities that can cause undesirable alterations to flavor and storage.
It is better to blanch carrots before any long term storage procedure to enhance their safety and quality.
Here are the steps for blanching carrots:
Step 1: Boil water in a pot large enough for all the carrot slices you have.
Step 2: Put the sliced carrots into the boiling water and wait for the water to boil again.
Step 3: Keep boiling the carrots for three to four minutes while preparing an ice bath for the blanched carrot slices.
Step 4: Transfer the carrots to the ice bath using a strainer, and drain them well once cooled.
To can carrots efficiently, we recommend you use a pressure canner.
A pressure canner ensures that canned fruits and vegetables do not accumulate or grow bacteria that can cause unwanted spoilage.
As usual, remove the tops from the carrots, wash them well, and blanch them before doing any canning.
Properly pressure-canned carrots maintain excellent quality up to 18 months.
If you have plenty of extra carrots, you can also make pickled carrots.
Pickled carrots vary in recipes from place to place, but the main ingredients essential to pickling are vinegar, sugar, and salt.
After cleaning and slicing your carrots, blanch them for one minute before adding all ingredients into the pot.
Cool the whole mixture down and store it in an airtight container. Don’t forget to add in the brine.
You can then keep these pickled carrots in the fridge for up to two months.
A freezer can store anything for longer periods, and carrots can retain its nutritional value if frozen.
Freezing carrots does not require any unfamiliar equipment.
Follow the usual procedure of removing the carrot tops, peeling and washing, chopping, and blanching.
Let the carrots cool down and air dry before storing them into any freezer bags.
Frozen carrots can maintain quality for up to one year.
Even if you don’t own a dehydrator, you can consider drying your carrots in the sun as long as you can take advantage of extra-hot, dry weather.
Cut the cleaned carrots into three-millimeter-thick coins.
Carrots cut thinly can be dried and rehydrated faster than thicker slices.
Dried carrots reconstitute when added to soups, stews, and casseroles.
Don’t forget about the benefits of blanching.
Unblanched and dried carrots last only about four months, while blanched and dried carrots can keep their quality over a year.
What is the best way to store carrots for winter?
To keep your store-bought carrots fresh all winter, store them in a cool, dark place with a relative humidity of 98% and within temperatures ranging from 32 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit.
On the other hand, homegrown carrots can be left in the ground all winter long.
During the cold months of winter, a carrot left in the ground protects itself from cold damage by converting some of its starch content to sugars.
Many farmers opt to overwinter their carrots to become even sweeter during harvest in early spring.
Do-It-Yourself Carrot Overwintering
For the best winter season storage option, try overwintering your carrots in the ground.
Here are the steps:
Step 1: Completely weed out your garden bed as the winter season kicks off.
Step 2: The green tops of your carrots will eventually die over the winter, but their edible roots are perfectly safe underground. Mark the location of each so you can easily find them come harvest time.
Step 3: Mulch your garden bed with straw or fallen leaves. Push the mulch firmly against the carrot tops.
Step 4: Harvest all the carrots you need anytime during the winter or leave them there for harvest until early spring.
Step 5: Be sure to collect and consume your carrots before their green tops come alive and grow some flowers. Flowering carrots are an indication that the roots are already inedible.
Now that you know how to store carrots in multiple ways, you can start a carrot garden for a continuous supply.
If stored properly, a carrot can retain its crunchiness, tastiness, and high nutrition.
Carrots are particularly famous for being a source of different nutrients, including beta-carotene, fiber, vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants.
They are also linked to lower cholesterol levels and improved eyesight.
With all of these storage methods, you can have year-round access to all of these health benefits.