Carrots are not only highly nutritious, but they’re also extremely versatile and are great for adding to any dishes that need a little more bulking out. If you grow your own and your soil temperature doesn’t drop below 25 degrees Fahrenheit (-4 degrees Celsius), you can just leave them in the ground until you need them. But what about storing your carrots once they’ve been harvested?
Carrots will store well in the refrigerator for around 1 month in a plastic bag. For longer storage, you can freeze your carrots for around 9 months or as long as 14 months if they’re vacuum-sealed. You can also can your carrots using a pressure canner and keep them for 3 to 5 years in the pantry.
Let’s explore the most common methods of storing and preserving carrots.
1. Store Raw Carrots in the Fridge
You can store raw carrots in the refrigerator for up to 1 month in one of two ways.
- To store the carrots for around 2 to 3 weeks, just place them in a plastic bag and put this into the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
- For longer storage of up to one month (or even longer) place your carrots into a container and fill with water. Put the lid on the container and put it into the crisper compartment of your refrigerator. The water will help to keep your carrots from drying out and going limp. You should replace the water on a daily basis to keep the carrots fresh.
- Remember to remove the green tops from your carrots before storing them because these will suck the moisture from your carrots.
- The greens are edible and are great for making pesto, so don’t just throw them out.
You can also store raw carrots either in sand or sawdust in your basement, cellar, or garage as long as it’s cool enough for up to 6 months. This is an ancient preservation method that is still relevant today.
Here’s what to do:
- Cut the green tops off the carrots and just brush the dirt off. There’s no need to wash them.
- Put a layer of damp sand or sawdust into a large container that has a lid.
- Layer the carrots with the sand or sawdust spacing them apart so that they’re not touching each other.
- The moisture in the sand or sawdust will help to keep the humidity at around 95 percent so that the carrots don’t dry out.
- Remember to put a lid on the container to keep out possible rodents or insects.
- Store your container of raw carrots in the cellar, basement or in the garage.
2. Freeze Carrots
Freezing your carrots is a great way to preserve them for around 9 months. If you also vacuum seal them before placing them in the freezer, they’ll keep for up to 14 months.
To freeze your carrots successfully so that they retain both their color and flavor, you first have to blanch them. Here’s what to do:
- Wash the carrots and pat them dry.
- Peel the carrots.
- Either slice your carrots or cut them into julienne strips, depending on how you want to use them down the track.
- Place the prepared carrots into boiling water for 2 minutes.
- Drain the carrots and put them into ice water immediately to stop the cooking process.
- Leave the carrots in the ice water until they’ve cooled to room temperature.
- Drain the carrots well.
- Place your carrot pieces on a baking sheet or tray in a single layer.
- Put this into the freezer, preferably overnight.
- In the morning, remove the carrots from the tray and put them into a plastic freezer-proof bag or a container that has an airtight lid.
- Expel as much air as possible before sealing the bag or putting the lid onto the container.
- Store these in the freezer for around nine months.
- If you have a vacuum sealer, you can pack your carrots into the bags and then vacuum seal them before placing in the freezer. Because all the air has been expelled, these should last well in the freezer for around 14 months.
3. Can Carrots
To can your carrots, you’ll need to use a pressure canner because they’re low in acid. Therefore, they can’t be preserved by simply using a water bath. You can either pack your carrots into jars while they’re still raw, or you can blanch them for around 5 minutes first.
Note: The required pressure does depend on the altitude of where you live. Therefore, it’s important that you consult your user manual for the recommended pressure according to your location.
Here’s what to do:
- Wash and peel your carrots and then cut them into slices.
- Pack the raw carrot slices into heated canning jars. Make sure you leave around 1 inch of space at the top.
- Alternatively, blanch your carrots in boiling water for around 5 minutes and then put them into ice water.
- Once they’ve reached room temperature, pack them into the heated jars, again leaving around 1 inch of space at the top.
- Add around half a teaspoon of canning salt to each jar if you’re using pint jars or 1 teaspoon of canning salt if you’re using quart jars. This is optional but highly recommended.
- Cover the carrots in the jar with boiling water, making sure that you leave 1 inch of space at the top. You can use a canning funnel for this.
- Fill your pressure canner with the required amount of water as per the instruction booklet.
- You can also add a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar to the water as this helps to prevent mineral deposits from forming on the jars.
- Put the canner on the stove at a low temperature to allow the water to warm up.
- Using a damp cloth, wipe the rims of the jars.
- Place the lids that have been sitting in warm water on top of the jars.
- Put the rings onto the jars and tighten them. They should only be finger-tight and not over tightened.
- Carefully place the jars into the canner and put on the lid.
- Turn up the heat so that steam can build up.
- Allow the canner to steam for around ten minutes.
- Put the pressure regulator on top of the canner and wait for it to reach the right pressure. Ideally, carrots should be canned at 10 pounds of pressure.
- If you’re using pint jars, let the carrots steam for around 25 minutes once the correct pressure has been reached. If you’re using quart jars, the carrots should steam for around 30 minutes. Regardless, you should check your instruction manual for the correct pressure and length of time for your particular model.
- Once the correct length of time has elapsed, turn off the heat and let the pressure canner cool down. Remove the pressure regulator when the cover lock has dropped down.
- You should then wait for another ten minutes or so before removing the lid of the canner. Be careful when you do this as a lot of hot steam will escape at the same time.
- Carefully lift the jars out of the canner being careful not to tilt them.
- Put them on a towel on your kitchen counter and leave them for 24 hours.
- The following day, wipe down the jars and remove the rings.
- Add some labels to the jars with the date and store these in your pantry or another dark cupboard. Keeping your canned carrots in the dark will help to preserve their color.
4. Dehydrate Carrots
You can also dehydrate your carrots if you want to store them for a long period of time. In fact, dehydrated carrots will keep for around 10 to 15 years if they’re stored in a sealed container with some added oxygen absorber.
This is also the method that will take up the least space in your pantry as the dehydrated carrots will be much smaller, and you can pack a lot of them into one jar.
Here’s what to do:
- Wash the carrots and pat them dry.
- Peel the carrots and slice or chop them up.
- Blanch the carrots in boiling water for around 3 to 4 minutes. This is really important because if you just dry the raw carrots they’ll lose both their color and their flavor.
- Put the blanched carrots into ice water and then let them cool to room temperature.
- Drain the carrots well and spread them onto your dehydrator trays in a single layer.
- Set the thermostat at 125 degrees Fahrenheit (52 degrees Celsius).
- Put the trays of carrots into the dehydrator and turn it on.
- It might take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours for the carrots to be dried completely.
- Depending on the model of your dehydrator, you might need to move the trays around to get your carrots to dry evenly.
- Once your carrots are totally dried, place them into jars that have airtight lids.
- These are great for adding to soups and stews or you can grind them into a powder to add to other dishes such as cakes and breads for that lovely carroty flavor.
To use dehydrated carrots, you should soak them first before adding them to your cooking.
Here’s how to do it:
- Put a quantity of dehydrated carrots into a heat-proof bowl. Make sure that the bowl is large enough as the carrots will double in size once they’re rehydrated.
- Cover the dried carrots with boiling water and let them soak in the water for around 20 to 40 minutes or until they’re tender.
- If you’re going to use the carrots in a soup or stew, you can add the carrots as well as the liquid. If you plan to use them in stir-fries or other drier dishes, drain them first before adding them to your cooking.
5. Ferment Carrots
Fermenting your carrots can add some additional flavors and means that you can store the jars of fermented carrots in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
It’s also a great alternative if you don’t have a pressure canner or a dehydrator. Here’s how to ferment your carrots:
- Wash, dry and peel the carrots.
- Cut the carrots into sticks to fit into the jars that you will be using.
- Make a brine mixture by combining water with salt. Use about 1 tablespoon of salt per quart of water. Stir the salt into the water until it has dissolved.
- Fill your jars with the carrot sticks. You might like to add additional flavorings such as some slices of onion, some chopped garlic, some chilli flakes or maybe a few sprigs of dill or other herbs.
- Pour the brine over the carrots, making sure that they’re covered completely.
- Place the lid on the jar quite loosely.
- Keep the jars at room temperature for around 3 to 5 days. You should check the carrots after 3 days to see whether you like their texture and how they taste. If they’re not quite to your liking, leave them for another day and check again.
- Once the carrots are to your liking, screw the lid on tightly and store your fermented carrots in the refrigerator. They should keep for around 6 months unopened.
Carrots are easy vegetables to grow, and most times, you’ll find that you have an abundance of them that you have to harvest if you’re expecting heavy frosts. There are plenty of easy ways that you can preserve and store your carrots. Choose one of our simple methods above, and you’ll have plenty of carrots to use all year round.