Carrots are a fabulous vegetable to make friends with! They are inexpensive and plentiful all year round. They store well. They are low in calories and they contain a whole whack of micronutrients. They are versatile, and they are used as aromatics in a large number of recipes and international cuisines.
Carrots are a staple that should be on everyone’s shopping list. But of course, that means a lot of folks will want to know how to handle them in order to preserve all their goodness – and how to get the most out of the food dollars they are spending on carrots!
Storing and Preserving Carrots
Much as I dislike leaving produce in plastic bags, this is actually the best thing for carrots. Tightly sealed in a plastic bag, carrots will keep for upwards of a month in your fridge. If you buy them fresh at the farmers’ market, cut off the tops before storing and then put them in a plastic bag that will retain their moisture.
The important thing with carrots is to keep them cool and dry, and to protect them from light. So if you have a really large quantity of fresh carrots to store, something along the lines of a root cellar (or a cool corner in your pantry) is probably the best solution. If you must preserve a large quantity of carrots that you can’t adequately store, you can choose between canning, pickling and freezing. Freezing carrots is probably the simplest and best in terms of nutritional value.
Use Your Carrot Tops
If you buy your carrots with the tops intact, don’t throw the greens away! Take advantage of the “free extra” by cooking the carrot tops. But do cut off the greens as soon as you get home. They need to be treated differently, so you always want to remove them right away and store them separately. If you leave the greens attached they will pull moisture and nutrients back up, out of the carrot roots. This will dry your carrots out, and cause them to spoil more quickly.
Use your carrot greens as a vegetable on their own, or use them as you would a fresh herb like parsley, basil or cilantro. Add carrot tops to soups in place of spinach. Or fix up a fabulous carrot top pesto or tabouleh.
To Peel or Not to Peel?
One of the reasons people peel some fruits and vegetables is because they worry about higher concentrations of pesticides and other harmful chemicals. But because carrots are a root vegetable, the skin doesn’t contain more chemicals than the rest of the carrot. So there isn’t any reason why you’d have to peel your carrots.
That being said, there’s no special reason not to peel them either! You might lose some of the fibre. And any time you remove the skin of a vegetable, you are losing some of its nutrients. It’s also extra work. So if your carrots taste fine with the skins on, just give them a good scrub! If they taste a little bitter, peeling can improve the taste.
Carrots Add Flavour to Soups and Broths
I love to make soups that contain carrots, like my creamy carrot and cauliflower soup. But I use carrots to make clear broth for cooking too.
Always give your carrots a bit of a wash before you prepare them. This way, you can save the cut ends and any peels for your soup bag. Carrot is an aromatic vegetable, and is frequently called for when making broths for soup. But why throw in a whole carrot that you could eat, when you can use the parts you don’t eat?
Just keep a zippered storage bag in your freezer, and whenever you have bits of carrot, celery, onion, etc. leftover from preparing veggies for cooking, toss them in! When the bag is full, you can add its contents to some boiling water in a stock pot, and create some lovely vegetable broth. Or add the vegetables to a beef stock that you’re making from soup bones, or to a chicken or turkey stock that uses a carcass you’ve saved after a meal.
For more tips on storing food properly to save money,
check out how to store lettuce for up to two weeks.
Note: This article is an original work first published by the author in May 2015 on Seraphic Insights