World Carrot Museum - carrots  logo

History Wild Carrot Today Nutrition Cultivation Recipes Trivia Links Home Contact


Carrot Storage

During the first five months of storage, carrots will actually increase their Vitamin A content; and, if protected from heat or light, can hold their nutrient content for another two or three months. The crisp texture of carrots is the result of the cell walls being stiffened with the indigestible food fibres cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin.

The trick to preserving the freshness of carrot roots is to minimize the amount of moisture they lose. Thick cored carrots store the best.

The main methods of storing carrots are:-

Refrigeration - Freezing - Microwaving - Canning (bottling) - Drying - Pickling - Underground root storage - Left in the ground.

Read the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, 2009 revision - here.      Read the fact sheet on how the Canadians do it - here


Preparation - First remove the greens, since they draw away moisture from the root. Tightly seal unwashed carrots in a plastic bag in the coolest part refrigerator. Wash just before using, since the added moisture in the bag could cause spoilage. Carrots begin to go limp once exposed to air.

Perhaps the best way to enjoy freshly picked carrots is to eat them raw, or simply steam or boil them. For tender, young carrots,  just scrub them well before taking either approach. Larger carrots, can have a tough skin and have too strong a flavour.  Try to resist peeling as much of the goodness is in the skin.

Depending on how fresh your carrots are they should last about 10 days and probably longer. Ideally growing your own is the way to go as they are very easy with many varieties suiting patio tubs and the traditional large garden variety. This means you can simply pick all you need and leave the rest in the ground.  If you are limited on space or motivation buy the freshest you can find.

Carrots should also be stored away from apples, pears, potatoes and other fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene gas since it will cause them to become bitter. Read more here (pdf)

Refrigeration - Carrots can keep in the refrigerator for up to three months if properly prepared for storage. Remove all the green stubble to prevent the carrot from rotting. (carrot leaves left attached draw moisture from the root and dry it out quickly). Allow the carrot outer skin to dry in sun for a day or so. Do not wash until ready to use carrot. Place carrots into refrigerator.

Some people recommend that you should line the vegetable drawer at the bottom of the fridge with a thick layer of absorbant kitchen paper. This will keep the carrots fresher for a much longer time. Make sure the carrots are dry before putting them in the fridge, especially if you buy them in plastic bags. Check on the paper once or twice per week. If it's damp then line it with dry paper and you can just dry out the old paper and use it again next time. No need to throw it away each time. Carrots give off a lot of moisture in the fridge and it's important to keep them dry. If you are buying really fresh carrots with the greenery intact  remember to remove them as soon as possible. They will keep longer this way.

Microwaving - Research has shown that microwave blanching is not always an effective method, as some enzymes may not be inactivated. This could result in low-quality frozen vegetables with off-colours, off-flavours and poor texture. If blanching is done in a microwave oven, follow individual manufacturer's instructions. Microwave blanching does not save time or energy.
How to successfully microwave carrots. Here is how we do it. Take a suitable dish which has a removable cover, we use a pirex dish and lid (which is microwave, heat proof glassware). Take about a pound of carrots (half kilo) and put them in the dish. These can be whole carrots or sliced it makes no difference. Boil some water in a kettle and pour the boiling water over the carrots to cover them, then immediately pour off the water leaving the carrots still wet and the merest hint of water in the bottom of the dish. Put the lid on then Microwave at full power for about 8 minutes. This works every time.

Home Freezingtwin carrot - To freeze carrots they must be blanched, the best way to blanch carrots is in boiling water. Use a blancher with a basket and cover, or fit a wire basket into a large kettle with a lid.  Blanching (scalding vegetables in boiling water or steam for a short time) is a must for almost all vegetables to be frozen. Blanching slows or stops enzyme action which can cause loss of flavour, colour and texture.   The youngest and most tender carrots freeze the best.

Use one gallon of water per pound of prepared vegetable. Using these proportions, the water should continue to boil when vegetables are lowered into the water. Put the carrots in the blanching basket and lower into vigorously boiling water. Place a lid on the blancher. Start counting blanching time as soon as the water returns to a boil. Time for whole Carrots is minimum of 5 minutes.

Keep the heat high so that water continues to boil throughout the blanching process. Select young, tender, coreless, medium length carrots. Remove tops, wash and peel. Leave small carrots whole. Cut others into thin slices, -inch cubes or lengthwise strips.

Water blanch small whole carrots for 5 minutes, diced or sliced 2 minutes and lengthwise strips take 2 minutes.

Cool promptly drain and place in plastic containers, leaving -inch head space. Seal and freeze as soon as possible.

Research has shown that microwave blanching is not always an effective method, as some enzymes may not be inactivated. This could result in low-quality frozen vegetables with off-colours, off-flavours and poor texture. If blanching is done in a microwave oven, follow individual manufacturer's instructions. Microwave blanching does not save time or energy.

How long can they be frozen? It depends upon how cold is your freezer and how you packed them.  Colder (deep freezes) are better than frost free compartments, which actually cycle above freezing (that's how they melt the ice).  Vacuum packing results in longer storage capability, too.  Thicker bags also help prevent freezer burn.

In general, up to 9 months in a ziploc bag in an ordinary freezer, and 14 months in a deep freeze in a vacuum packed bag.  After that, the carrots won't make you sick; they just won't taste as good.

Harvest the carrots at its peak maturity but not old - they get tough and fibrous; younger is better than older. Process promptly after harvesting, or keep cooled in the fridge or with ice until then. If your frozen carrots go rubbery after being cooked, generally it's because the carrots were either old to begin with, or they were overcooked.  It only takes 2 to 5 minutes to blanch the carrots, then plunge them immediately into ice water.


Canning (or bottling) - Canned carrots must be processed in a pressure canner. Do not can in a water bath canner. To can carrots safely follow these simple instructions;
1. Select small carrots, preferably 1 to 1 1/4 inch in diameter. Large carrots are often too fibrous. Wash, peel and rewash carrots. Slice or dice.
2. Hot Pack -- Cover carrots with water and bring to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes. Pack into hot jars, leaving 1-inch head space. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt to pints; 1 teaspoon to quarts, if desired.
3. Fill jars to 1 inch from top with boiling water.
4. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Adjust two piece lids and process.
5. Process in a Dial Gauge Pressure Canner at 11 pounds pressure or in a Weighted Gauge Pressure Canner at 10 pounds pressure: pints for 25 minutes and quarts for 30 minutes.

Pickling - Another great way of preserving excess carrots is to pickle them. Try this recipe. These pickled carrots make a wonderful condiment with curry, and add a tangy, sweet and sour note to salads.

Ingredients

8 oz. carrots, peeled and cut into match sticks about 2" long
1 tbsp. coarse salt
1 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp. light brown sugar
crushed red chilli pepper flakes, to taste

Place the carrots in a bowl and toss with the salt. Allow to sit for 1 hour. Drain well.
Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, brown sugar, and chilli flakes in a small saucepan. Heat over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Add the vinegar mixture to the carrots and toss well. Allow to marinate for 1-2 hours before serving, or store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Yield: about 1-1/2 cups.

Carrot Preserve, Carrot Pickle, Carrots in Syrup

How to Dry Carrots  - Carrots are incredibly easy to dry! Simply top & tail the carrots & then wash & peel. Chop the carrots into 2-4mm slices and then place on the trays of your Ezidri, making sure the pieces aren't touching. Dehydrate at 55 deg C (Snackmaker - Medium) for 10 hours.

You can also choose to grate your carrots & create your own dehydrated carrot flakes. These should take between 6 & 10 hours to dry, and should be placed on Mesh Sheets.

Carrots are 88% water so they will reduce in size considerably. You may want to condense the trays a few hours into the drying process. When ready, the carrots should be crisp to the touch with no visible signs of moisture.

Dried carrots can be used directly in recipes where they will absorb a lot of water. Another great idea is to place the dried carrot pieces into a food processor and make into a fine powder which is delicious in soups, casseroles, drinks & more. Included in this section is several recipes which make use of Carrot powder - make sure you check them out!

To store your carrot pieces, flakes or powder, place in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place.

Underground root cellar - For extended fresh storage of carrots, use underground root storage. Prepare the carrots like you're going to store them in the refrigerator. Then pack into containers surrounded by straw or moist sand or sawdust for keeping in any outdoor storage pit or root cellar. Place them in an area just above 32 degrees Fahrenheit with 95 percent humidity.

Traditionally, this was done in a pit or clamp with a layer of straw and soil on top, along with potatoes. The clamp keeps the roots cool and slightly moist too. If an old fridge is available, it makes a very good store. Plastic bags with holes are quite good too, but the roots must have cool conditions or they will sprout. Storage in sand and soil is sometimes recommended but this can create earthy, woody off-flavours in carrots.  Do NOT store near apples!

The method of preserving the root vegetables was known as 'clamping' and it involved storing the vegetables in what was known as a 'clamp'. The principles were:

  • to store only those vegetables that were in sound condition and to remove excess stalks and leaves that could rot in storage
  • to keep the stored vegetables slightly moist so that they did not dry out while keeping out the wet which would have made them rot
  • to prevent the frost getting to them
  • to prevent the light getting to them.

Sand boxes - If you have the space, say in a garage, try the sand box method -

Lift the carrots for storage carefully with a fork and try not to damage or bruise them as damaged roots are subject to soft rot, which attacks through the wounds and causes a slimy decay, spreading out from the centre of the carrot.

Put the damaged carrots aside to eat immediately. Cut off the leaves of the carrot tops as near to the crown as possible without damaging them. Clean any soil off. Using slightly damp sand in boxes place the carrots in layers in a frost proof shed that is well ventilated. Remove for eating as required.

Be sure that the carrots are not stored in very damp conditions as they are likely to get Sclerotinia rot a fluffy fungus that causes them to become black and hard.


How to store Carrots (from World War Two pamphlet - but still relevant!) Official leaflet here.Carrot Clamp for storage

The secret of storing carrots is in lifting them (pulling them up) in good condition. Lift them during dry weather, not later than the middle of October. Reject all blemished carrots and all damaged or forked roots. It is not necessary to clean them, but be careful to see they are quite dry.

You will need a dry shed for your storing, if possible with a stone or concrete floor, and some slightly moist sand. If you cannot get sand, earth taken from the top of the ground, shaken through a very fine sieve and slightly moistened, is the best substitute.

 Lay alternate rows of carrots and sand (or earth) either on the ground, in pyramid shape, or in boxes. Cover your pyramid or box with sand (or earth). Put over it a layer of straw as a safeguard against frost. The carrots should be stored crown to tail in rows. Use the carrots as you require them, but take care that the remaining pile is always well covered. It is a wise plan to rebuild your pyramid at least once during the winter.


Left in the ground - Carrots can also be left for storage in the ground where they grew. Leaving in the ground is an option but roots left in the ground too long become woody and are prone to cracking.

To make winter digging easier cover the rows with leaves or straw then a layer of plastic then another layer of leaves or straw. The plastic keeps the bottom layer of mulch dry to make it easier to dig the carrots when ground is frozen. Make the top layer of mulch a foot deep and weight it down to prevent the leaves or straw from blowing away. Carrots will keep this way for 6 months. Be sure to dig carrots in the spring before warmer weather causes carrots to begin to grow again. Store in refrigerator when warmer weather comes.

 


History Wild Carrot Today Nutrition Cultivation Recipes Trivia Links Home ContactSITE SEARCH