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.
Since carrots are a low acid food, you must use a pressure canner if you wish to can them. (Unless you pickle them– then a water bath canner is fine. Here is a promising Pickled Carrot recipe.)
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.
We took our raw carrots and chipped them with a hand powered “food processor”. They came out a bit larger than “grated” but not by much. Then we just dehydrated them without blanching. They turned out *awesome* and I find myself using the carrots in everything. I love to throw a handful into rice near the end of its cooking time, when the little orange specks add not only color but nutrition to the final product. They rehydrate just fine in soups and stews, too. 🙂
Did you treat them in any way? Bisodium Sulfate?
Susan WEGNER WEGN ER says
How long do the carrots keep when you dehydrate them?
you forgot one way of preserving: Lacto-fermentation! I pretty much do all of the other options you give as well except for the canning. Since we don’t get quite as much snow as you, I leave ’em in the ground after trimming their tops down and thinning the ginormous ones out for the horses and livestock. Then I just pick a gallon ziplock at a time and keep them in the fridge until needed. I am going to dehydrate them for the first time this fall, too I’ve been shredding and dehydrating extra zucchini for use for a couple years, but this will be my first carrot drying experience. So the lacto-fermentation instructions I use are right out of the Nourishing Traditions cookbook by Sally Fallon. I just used the instructions for fermenting veggies, and cut up the carrots into wedges, added garlic, dill and dried pepper flakes with filtered water, a little salt, and a Tbsp of raw whey and let sit for a week or so. Then I’ve been storing the quart jars in my extra fridge. I still have one jar left from last spring….they were nice and refreshing (as probiotics go!) to munch on all summer. (I used the last of my carrots this spring that were left in the garden that I had to dig up before they grew again and went to seed) I DID let some carrots go to seed and saved the seeds for next year…..seed saving is something new I am attempting to learn, but that’s a whole other post for you, right???!!! And I here you on the nesting urge to put up as much food as possible, being preggers myself, although feels like I haven’t done enough yet….still working on that! (I’ve got two more months to go, however……)
Unfortunately, my fridge space is at a minimum, so LF stuff is not something I’ve done a lot of. And hate to say it, but the few LF things I’ve tried from Nourishing Traditions have made me gag… Guess I haven’t acquired the taste for it, yet!
You are not alone in the gagging department, my husband feels the same way about lacto fermented stuff! It’s funny for me, since being pregnant I’ve craved lacto fermented stuff even more…even drinking the juice straight from the saurkraut. Crazy, eh???? We are lucky to have several fridges for storage, so I can sock away my lacto fermented stuff, although I actually don’t make a ton of it overall. I feel the same as you in that I try to focus on food storage options that don’t require power, if at all possible. I have root cellar envy for all those lucky folks with an unheated cellar or basement….someday! Then I could keep lacto fermented stuff in the root cellar.
My preferred root cellar packing material is leaves. Leaves are so much easier to brush off of the carrots than sand, sawdust or straw, and are very good at maintaining proper moisture levels. You can take a peek at my carrot tubs in this post – http://www.commonsensehome.com/root-cellars-101/
Good point Laurie! Thanks for the link, too– definitely gonna check it out.
I like to think of myself as a halfway decent cook, but blanching has always confused me. Do I start the timer when I put the carrots in, or when it comes back to a boil?
Start the timer right away but the water needs to come back to a boil within a minute. Adjust quantity you blanch at once by the return boil.
Deb Berning says
I canned carrots with hot water bath. The Ball canning book gave directions. I dehydrated and did not blanch. I used medium garter and put the amount in a baggie that goes in a carrot bread recipe.
farmer liz says
First I’ve got to work out how to grow too many carrots…… then I would like to try some of these methods. We don’t get snow and I don’t have a pressure canner, so I guess I will have to use the fridge, dehydrator or freezer (and maybe lacto-fermented). Thanks for explaining the options!
Dyfed @ Celtnet Recipes Blog says
Nice to see the preserving methods. I love fermentation myself, just use a modified method of making sauerkraut. You can also make carrot jam or even marmalade if your carrots are sweet enough. They can also be honeyed in the same way as quinces (helps if you have your own hives).
Darcy Hubbert says
Wow! This is great! Thanks for the tips, anyway. I would really love to do this since my daughter loves to eat carrots so much. And sometimes It’s so terrible to throw away rotten carrots. It’s just like throwing my budget away.
Do the carrots have to be peeled in order to can or freeze or dehydrate them? If they are cleaned, aren’t there a lot of nutrients we lose in the peeling?
Jill Winger says
They probably don’t *have* to be peeled– as long as you can get them nice and clean and the peels aren’t too tough.
I love canning foods I would like to can more foods and have to rely less on a freezer. Did you ever can deer meat? I can it every year and we love it. I just canned chicken for the first time and the meat is out of this world.I buy locally raised chickens and they make fabulous meat.I just add boullion that I get from my health food store in the flavor of the meat I am canning and it is superb.I also fill the jar with water then and the juices from the meat mix and make a nice broth that you can use for gravy or soup.
Jill Winger says
I haven’t tried canning meat yet– but I’m itching to do it! I hear it’s delicious!!
There are a lot of recipes on line for canning meat It was pretty easy.When I did the chicken I pulled all the skin off so the broth wasn’t so fatty
Sandi LaRose says
When I used to freeze carrots, I did the blanching, cooling, packing, etc. and then decided to try them unblanched but frozen. No difference! Just wash, peel, chop, bag and voila! all done!!!! So much easier. However, I now can them! But thought I would share for those that freeze. I did not find the texture once thawed any different between blanched and unblanched.
Jill Winger says
Wahoo! Love being able to omit steps!
I know this comment is old. But can you tell me the texture difference you experienced between Freezing V’s. Canning? Would either hold up to being in a slow cooker with roast with turning into mush?
I’m also keen to omit the blanching as water is a scarce resource here at Hoyleton in South Australia’s Mid-North; with an annual average rainfall of 17 inches. We are about 120km north of Adelaide; SA’s capital. We do have mains water but I avoid using it as it is ferociously expensive.
Irene Stange says
I run the raw carrots through my food processor to grate, then pack in freezer pint bags. So handy for winter stews and soups. They taste just like fresh without the blanching.
Thanks for this great info! My dehydrator & canner are arriving today ( bday gifts!) and I’m itching to use them. I’m planning on leaving some in the ground, drying & canning some.
Karin Fletcher says
How long will carrots stay in a deep freeze?
we had an abundant harvest this year. Am going to try several preserving methods including: carrot jam, keeping some in the garden under a cold frame, putting some in the fridge (might even buy a second hand fridge for the basement for storage, canning and freezing. We will see what works.
carrot tops/greens are edible and very nutritious! wash and dehydrate, then powderize. or use like dried parsley. you can eat them “fresh”, but some find them too bitter, but they can be eaten, so don’t waste them. ditto for beet, turnip, rutabaga, onion, garlic, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, kale, chard, even green bean leaves–the list is long. lots of flowers are edible too, if you don’t want seed. veggies and herbs. and also lots of seeds are edible as well, or can be sprouted.