This year’s season of food preservation has been a whirlwind, let me tell ya…
I suppose being hugely pregnant probably contributed to my “overwhelmed” feeling, but I plugged long anyway…
I’ve had an insatiable urge to preserve everything I can get my hands on… I’ve dried fruit leather, pears, peaches, and tomatoes… Canned salsa, pickles, tomato sauce, applesauce, pearsauce, chokecherry jelly, beets, and beans… Frozen breads, green beans, raw strawberry jam, peppers, freezer meals… And we cut up the deer that hubby shot and froze it in neat little white packages.
So last weekend when I finally got around to digging up the last of my garden carrots, I couldn’t help but sit and stare at the overflowing basket and wish that I could just snap my fingers and be done for the year…
I went back and forth as to how I wanted to preserve them, and was pleasantly surprised to learn that there is more than one way to keep a carrot.
Five Ways to Preserve Your Carrot Harvest
1. Leave them in the ground.
It just doesn’t get much easier than this… If you live in a cooler climate, carrots won’t mind the chilly temps at all. Cover the rows with a thick layer of mulch (like straw or leaves), then add a layer of plastic or a tarp. Finally, cover the tarp with one more layer of mulch (about a foot deep). This will help to insulate the rows and will make it easier for you to access them in snow or frozen temps.
I seriously considered this method, but we get some serious snow drifts in Wyoming, and the thought of having to shovel 3 feet of snow to grab a few carrots when I wanted to make some stew didn’t sound all that appealing to me. Plus, I wanted to be able to turn our pigs into the garden for a month or two.
2. Store them root cellar style.
Like most root crops, carrots do wonderfully when stored in a root cellar setting. Trim the greens, but do not wash the carrots. Pack them into boxes or other containers surrounded with damp sand, sawdust, or straw. Keep them around just above freezing (33-35 degrees) with plenty of humidity. They should last for 4-6 months this way.
If you are root cellar-less like me, you can follow this same idea and just use your refrigerator. Trim, don’t wash, and then place them in tightly sealed bags. They should keep for around 2 months using this method.
3. Can them.
To pressure can them using the raw pack method:
Peel, trim, and thoroughly wash the carrots. The carrots can be sliced or left whole.
Pack them into hot jars and fill with boiling water– leaving 1″ headspace.
Process pints for 25 minutes and quarts for 30 minutes at 10 pounds pressure.
(New to the idea of pressure canning? Check out my 3-part series that will tell you everything you need to know to get started with your pressure canner!)
4. Freeze them.
With a little prep, carrots will freeze surprisingly well.
Simply trim, peel, and thoroughly wash. Slice or dice to the desired size, then blanch them for 3 minutes. Cool, then place the blanched carrots into baggies or freezer containers and use for your soups, casseroles, etc.
For me, it was a toss up between canning and freezing, but I ultimately went with the freezing, since it is a wee bit quicker and I’m currently running short on time before this baby makes his appearance.
5. Dry them.
If you have a food dehydrator, you can dry your carrots for use in stews or even carrot cake. (Don’t have a dehydrator? Here is a tutorial for using your oven instead.)
Trim, peel, wash, and thinly slice them. Blanch for 3 minutes, then dry at 125 degrees until they are almost brittle.
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