Your Questions Answered: Storing Carrots
There are a lot of reasons to always have carrots on hand — they're a key ingredient in a lot of dishes, such as stock, they make great snacks or crudité, and are generally pretty affordable, even if you choose organic. The trouble with fresh fruit and vegetables is they speed at which they can rot. How often have you bought a bunch of carrots at the supermarket and they’ve sat in your fridge for a few days until you had an idea for dinner, only to find that they’re so weak and bendy you can tie them in a knot? Fortunately, keeping carrots fresh is very easy. There’s no expensive accessories involved. You don’t need to buy any strange-looking humidifying devices for your refrigerator.
The easiest way to keep carrots nice and crisp
If you are going to use the green leafy tops later, cut them off and store them separately to keep them from sapping nutrients from the roots. Once the greens are trimmed off, put your carrots in a slightly dampened Swag and they'll stay there happily for several months - really! Did you know that fresh carrots, stored long enough in The Swag, will start to re-grow their leafy tops? During the first five months of storage, carrots will actually increase Vitamin A content. If protected from heat or light, they can hold their nutrient content for another two or three months - WOW!
Other tips for storing carrotsThe best way to enjoy freshly picked carrots and take advantage of their freshness is to eat them raw. You can also steam tender, young carrots to enjoy by simply scrubbing them well and putting them over some boiling water for a few minutes. Larger carrots can have tough skin and too strong a flavor to eat raw or plainly, but they are often much sweeter than new carrots. As much of the goodness is in the skin, it is best to avoid peeling them as much as possible. This means they’re better for longer cooking processes that will soften the skin. Here's a great video from Dr. Axe that explains how steamed carrots is one of the 7 best things you can do to remedy leaky gut syndrome and heal your body. If you're not seeing long term results with carrots then take note of this... Carrots preferably should be stored away from ripe apples, pears, potatoes and other fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene gas since it will cause them to become a little bitter. However, The Swag really helps with this as your carrots can actually breathe and the effects of ethylene is reduced significantly.
What about freezing?Like most vegetables, carrots need to be blanched before freezing. Failure to do so results in vegetables that, while safe to eat, have "off" colours, textures and flavors. In addition, they suffer significant nutrient loss. Blanching stops enzymatic activity that decays vegetables. These naturally occurring enzymes grow and ripen fruit and vegetables, and while freezing slows down this action, some enzymes can survive freezing temperatures and continue the decaying process even though the food is frozen. Treating the carrots in boiling water or steam kills off the enzymes. How long they can stay frozen depends on how cold is your freezer and how you packed them. Colder is better and generally frost free compartments only cycle above freezing, so you should probably use a dedicated deep freezer. We suggest freezing your carrots in glass containers. Carrots can often last up to nine months in an ordinary freezer, and 14 months in a deep freeze. They’re still edible after this point and they won’t make you sick, but they won’t taste very good.
What to look for when choosing the best carrots
- When you are selecting carrots, make sure that they are in good shape. Smooth form and a hearty orange colour are key indicators to what is beneath their skin. The best, freshest carrots still have greens attached and these leaves should be fresh and bright green.
- Carrots are usually sold one of three ways: in bunches with their tops still on, loose with no green tops, or in bags without greens. Carrots in bunches with their tops are usually higher priced than bagged carrots and are often named “Dutch carrots”. The tops are an indication of freshness and they should be crisp and bright green.
- Try to choose medium-sized carrots with a good taper as this size will be the easiest to cook with and will give you more versatility when it comes to eating raw or cooked. Thick carrots are often tough and harder to cook with, requiring longer cooking times and are not conducive to eating raw or lightly steamed.
- Note that baby carrots are convenient to buy and snack on, but most baby peeled carrots are just larger carrots cut down to size and sold as "baby" carrots.
- Carrots with marks or cracks, greens that aren’t fresh and bright, a flabby or rubbery texture, should be avoided if possible. They should not be gnarled or covered with rootlets and their colour should be a healthy reddish-orange, an indicator of beta carotene levels, not pale or yellow.