Carrots are available almost throughout the year and their antioxidant health benefits make them ideal for consumption throughout the year. However, there are quite a few people who are frustrated by the prospect of stocking up these roots only to find them gone rotten or sprouting within a few days in the refrigerator. If you're one of those who love to buy carrots in bulk but have a lurking fear of them turning rubbery or misshapen before you have had a chance to try out the recipe, you might find this article useful. By adopting proper methods of storage, carrots can be made to remain fresh and flavorsome for a long period of time.
Simple Techniques to Store Carrots
Freezing these hardy root vegetables is one of the most effective ways of storage. But there is more to it than just dumping them in the refrigerator. Listed below are a few simple techniques that will tell you how to freeze carrots the right way.
Freezing Carrots: What to Do
✔ Always trim the top green stubble before freezing as it draws out the moisture from the root and causes rotting. If you need to use the stubble in your cooking, store it separately (lasts fewer days).
✔ Let the carrots dry in the sun for a day or so. The moisture on the outer skin can accelerate rotting. Then store the dry carrots in an equally dry plastic bag in the coolest part of your refrigerator. Carrots will remain fresh for several months if stored this way.
✔ Refrigerated carrots often form a white root film on the exterior, after a few days. Just peel the carrots before use to expose the orange fresh layer. It will not affect the taste of the carrots.
✔ While buying carrots from the store, pick the ones with the greens attached as they will undoubtedly be more durable than those with the trimmed greens. If you must pick up frozen carrots from the store, leave them in their original film packing when storing at home.
✔ Most varieties of carrots have a long storage life; however, baby carrots wilt faster than the regular ones. To prevent them from becoming rubbery, it is best to blanch them. We will learn how to blanch them later in this article.
✔ Vacuum packing or storing in zip lock pouches (or thick bags) makes the carrots stay fresh longer than in regular plastic bags.
Blanching Carrots for Storage and Preservation
Freezing Carrots: What Not to Do
✗ Washing carrots before freezing them is a no-no.
✗ Avoid packaging carrots to be frozen in a huge single pack. It is better to freeze in smaller batches instead of one single container, especially if the carrots are homegrown or purchased in bulk.
✗ Avoid postponing harvesting of homegrown carrots until they're old. Younger carrots last longer due to the relatively lesser fibrous content.
✗ Deep freezing is a better option than storing in frost-free setups.
✗ Avoid storing carrots next to vegetables like potatoes or fruits like apples and pears which give out ethylene gas, making the carrots bitter in taste.
✗ Avoid storing almost damaged carrots. They will ruin the fresh ones as well and they're anyway best used immediately.
Fresh produce when exposed to the atmosphere triggers enzyme action. This, in addition to rotting from moisture, causes loss of flavor, texture and color of the vegetable. In order to stop the enzyme activation, blanching carrots is an effective method. The steps are described below.
Some Offbeat Tips
- Boil a generous quantity of water (a gallon per pound of carrot) on high heat.
- If the carrots are big, you may cut them into manageable chunks or slices; baby carrots are best blanched whole. Remove the green stubble, wash and peel the young carrots.
- Immerse the carrots into the boiling water and let them stay for 2-5 minutes while the water is still boiling (2 minutes for slices and 5 minutes for whole carrots).
- Now, for some flash cooling - remove the carrots with a slotted spoon and drop them into a large container filled with ice water so that the carrots chill quickly.
- Next, drain the carrots of excess moisture, blot them on paper towels so that they're completely dry.
- Put the blanched, dry carrots into plastic bags with about half an inch of head space and quickly put them in the freezer.
- Do not blanch carrots for more than five minutes or you'll be left with a rubbery, overcooked almost useless vegetable unfit for freezing.
The below tips are not tried and tested but they're talked about among experienced homemakers and cooks.
- A water bath is known to be effective in keeping carrots fresh for a longer duration. Store the carrots in a container filled with water, just ensure you change the water occasionally.
- Some claim that bubble wrapping keeps carrots fresh for a long time.
- Peeled carrots when placed and wrapped tightly in a damp towel seems to be a popular technique. They are then sealed in a plastic bag before storing. Open the bag and dampen the towel every other day for best results.
Like most other veggies, drawing the maximum nutritional value of carrots
into your food is possible when it is freshly consumed. Storing vegetables in root cellars were effective ways of preservation before the age of refrigerators. However, using the above techniques you can come very close to the near-fresh experience with all the crunch intact. Even though carrots can last for months using some of the techniques, we still recommend using them as soon as possible. The sooner it gets out of that freezer and into your recipe, the fresher it will be.