There are three ways to store fresh carrots from the garden. Which method is best for you depends on how you want to eventually use the carrots and how much time you have. Let’s take a detailed look at storing carrots in the refrigerator, canning, and freezing.
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How to Store Fresh Carrots in the Refrigerator
After picking your carrots, remove the green tops. Don’t toss them in the garbage! Carrot tops are edible, so you can use them in salads or steam them as you would any other greens, like spinach.
Wrap the rest of the carrot in a damp paper towel or clean kitchen towel. Then, place them in the coolest part of your refrigerator. Typically, this is in the very back of the center shelf.
Whole carrots can last about a month when stored like this. You can cut them into slices or sticks first, too, then wrap them up, but when you cut them, they usually only last for about two weeks.
If your home has a root cellar or an unheated basement, you can store your carrots instead of in the refrigerator. Place them in a container and cover them with sand. Add water. If you keep the sand moist, the carrots may last months when stored this way.
How to Freeze Carrots
Freezing takes a little more time and prep work, but it’s worth it because, once frozen, the carrots can last for months.
The best way to freeze carrots is to blanch them first. This helps them keep their flavor during the time that they are frozen and after they thaw.
Boil a big pot of water. While you’re waiting for the water to boil, clean the carrots and remove any stuck-on dirt. You can peel them if you want, but you don’t have to.
Fill a second large bowl or pot with ice water, and keep it as close to the boiling water as possible. You’ll be moving the carrots directly from the boiling water to the ice water bath.
Carefully put the carrots into the boiling water for two to three minutes. Then, use tongs or a slotted spoon to move the carrots from the boiling water to the ice bath to stop the cooking process.
Place the carrots on a towel and allow them to dry. Then, place them in a large freezer bag. Be sure to write the date on the outside before placing them in the freezer. Frozen carrots can last for up to a year without losing their flavor when you use this method.
How to Can Fresh Carrots
Canning is another option, but it’s the most involved. Note that carrots require a pressure canner. You can’t use traditional canning methods if they need higher temperatures than the boiling water method can provide for safe canning.
If you already have a pressure canner, you can use it for your carrots. This equipment is rather expensive, though, so you might want to reconsider canning carrots if you don’t already have one.
Note that canning carrots using the traditional water-bath method is not safe. This method cannot remove all the bacteria, so you should not eat carrots unless you use a pressure canner.
First, clean the carrots well. You can peel them if you want to, but it’s not necessary. Then, cut them into smaller shapes that are easier to use when preparing them later. For example, dice or slice them if you plan to use them in soups or puree them for baby food.
Wash your canning jars, rings, and lids, and make sure everything is intact so you can be sure the jar will maintain a proper seal. Then, fill the jars with your carrots, but leave about an inch of space at the top. You can add salt or another flavoring at this point, too.
Next, pour hot water over the carrots, again leaving about an inch of space at the top of the jar. Read the directions for your pressure canner carefully to ensure you’re allowing the cans to pressurize for a long enough period of time. This usually takes anywhere from 25 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the jar.
Remove the jars from the canner and allow them to cool. You should hear popping sounds during this process, which is a good sign. It means the cans are properly sealing.
Once they’re cool, test the seals by pushing on the middle of the lid. If the lid pops up, the jar did not seal properly and should be disposed of as there is risk it will be contaminated without a proper seal.
Store your canned carrots in a cool, dark area. If they are canned properly, they can last for years.
Final Word of Storing Fresh Carrots
As you can see, there are a few options for how to store fresh carrots from your garden. If you’re planning to use them soon after harvesting, the refrigerator method is fine. To make them last a little longer, try freezing them.
If you have the time and the proper equipment, canning carrots is also an option. Just make sure you use a pressure canner as the water bath method is not safe for this root vegetable.