How to clean and store carrots from your garden

Carrots are a popular vegetable, whether raw as a snack or cooked into meals. Growing carrots is fairly easy, including preserving their seeds, but what do you do once they’re ready to be harvested? If you’ve ever wondered how to store carrots, here are some easy tips for you to follow for the freshest garden goodies!

What are the best ways to store carrots?

Most storage options for carrots begin the same way: Removing the tops. The part of the carrot we eat is the root, which stores nutrients for the leaves. If the tops are left on, they’ll continue using the moisture in the carrot, which leads to dry carrots. Once the tops are cut off, they can be used as compost or stored to make vegetable stock. However, the tops don’t last quite as long as the carrots, so it’s best to use them quickly. 

Another thing storage options have in common is that you shouldn’t wash your carrots until you’re ready to eat them. Washing can strip away some of the natural protections carrots have, which makes them spoil slightly faster.

You also want to avoid storing carrots near apples, bananas, pears, potatoes, or any other fruit or vegetable that produces ethylene gas. Ethylene gas is naturally produced by some plants, and it causes fruits and vegetables to ripen faster. This is really useful for the plants and for you if you’re trying to encourage your bananas to ripen faster, but it is a hindrance when you’re trying to store vegetables and fruits for longer periods of time.

Once your carrots are leaf-free, unwashed, and away from ethylene gas-producing plants, then you have some options. One popular method is to store your carrots submerged in water, with or without a lid. Adding a lid typically helps them last a little longer, but if you’re only storing them for a few days to a week, a lid isn’t necessary. You can leave your carrots in the ground and only pull them when you’re ready to eat them, but you do run the risk of leaving your carrots exposed to potentially damaging weather or animals. You can mimic this method by storing the carrot in a box or bag of moist sand in a dark place.

You can also pickle your carrots. There are a variety of recipes to do so, and you can tinker with them to create the exact taste you enjoy. The basics of pickling are vinegar and sugar in a jar with the vegetables of your choosing. 

How should you clean carrots?

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Carrots are very easy to clean once you have the tops removed. Wash them in cold water, and scrub them with a vegetable brush, the back of a new sponge, or your fingers. Don’t use any bleach or soaps, as these can soak into the vegetable and make you sick when you eat it. Once they’ve been washed, you can eat them raw or prepare them for cooking.

Peeling your carrots can certainly help them aesthetically, but in most cases, it isn’t necessary. If your carrots are organic and fresh, you don’t need to peel them. If you do choose to peel your carrots, the peels can be saved for vegetable stock, composting, or dog treats.

Is storing carrots in water a good idea?

Storing carrots in water is one of the most popular ways to store them, and it can be quite effective. It’s important to change out the water every day to every few days so that it stays fresh. To avoid wasting water, you can use the carrot water to water your garden. 

Another important thing to keep in mind is that this is a short-term storage option. Carrots can be stored this way for a couple of weeks at most before they start to become slippery and unappetizing.

Can you freeze carrots?

Yes, you can. You can freeze carrots with or without blanching them first. Generally speaking, blanching the carrots first preserves the taste and texture of the carrots.

To blanch carrots, remove the tops and wash the carrots thoroughly. Cut your carrots into chunks, slices, matchsticks, or whatever size you prefer. Next, boil them for three to five minutes. The bigger the carrot bits, the longer you boil them for. Drain the carrots and place them in ice water, then drain them a second time. Put your carrots into resealable bags, and remember to get rid of as much air as possible! Then, they’re ready for freezing. 

Carrots are an interesting and versatile vegetable, and there are so many options for what to do with them. Now that you know the best ways to store carrots from your garden, you can focus on how you want to eat them!

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