Carrots are one of the best-known and most popular vegetables, used in all kinds of dishes from casseroles to side dishes, soups, and much more. Discovering the best way to store carrots means you can keep them fresh and in tip-top condition. So, let's take a closer look at these tasty vegetables.
Most people like carrots, whether they're shredded for coleslaw or added to beef stew. They can also be cut into matchstick shapes and enjoyed as crudités with a tasty dip. There are so many different ways to prepare carrots. I love to make carrot banana muffins for breakfast, brunch, or a snack, and the whole family also raves about my carrot cake. Try it - you won't regret it!
Not only are fresh carrots tasty and versatile, but they're also good for you. Boasting a good amount of Vitamin K1, potassium, fiber, and antioxidants, these root vegetables also contain beta carotene which is converted into Vitamin A in the body.
What are Carrots?
Carrots (Daucus Carota) come in different varieties. The orange ones are the most familiar, but there are also yellow, white, and even red, black, and purple ones. Although wild carrots originated in Eurasia, it's thought they were domesticated somewhere around 1000 CE in Central Asia. Carrots will grow in any temperate zone and are grown and appreciated all over the world. They don't like ground freezes, a hard frost, or excessively hot weather though.
Different colors do taste slightly different from each other, but perhaps not as much as you'd expect. Purple carrots, for example, aren't usually purple on the inside. They offer a very subtle, peppery flavor as well as being sweet. Red carrots taste almost the same as orange ones, and then you can also get yellow or white ones that taste somewhat sweeter than the other types.
A lot of grocery stores and markets only carry the orange variety, but it's fun to try the others and you can add a pop of color to all kinds of recipes by choosing a purple or perhaps a white variety. If you're making some kind of dessert such as carrot cake oatmeal or easy carrot mug cake, you might as well use the orange ones and save the colored ones for special dishes since they can cost more.
As for baby carrots, the majority are simply misshapen whole carrots and are therefore put through a machine to trim them down and make them look pretty!
How to Choose the Best Carrots
Whether you're planning to enjoy them raw, use them in a recipe, or have them as a snack, it's useful to know how to choose the best quality carrots and know what to avoid.
First of all, the bigger the carrot the sweeter it will taste since the natural sugars develop in a carrot while it's in the ground. Rich, deep coloring is a good indicator of freshness and the best carrots will be the same color all over rather than patchy. If you're buying carrots with the leaves still on, bear in mind that floppy or pale leaves indicate the carrots are past their prime.
A little crack or split in a carrot shouldn't be an issue, but if the carrot has several of these, this tells you it's drying out and not fresh anymore. Avoid any carrots that have mushy spots or are more bendy than firm.
How to Store Carrots
This vegetable will stay fresh for a relatively long time if you know the best way to store it. Since carrots lose moisture, some people even keep theirs in moist sand to prevent moisture loss. But there's no need to do that when it's so easy to simply refrigerate them. This is the best way to store raw carrots to keep them fresh.
- If you bought carrots with leafy green tops, you should remove the carrot greens before storing them, the reason being carrots lose moisture through the leaves.
- At this point, you can either throw the leaves out or keep them wrapped in a damp paper towel if you do want to add their slightly bitter taste to a recipe.
- Now you should put your carrots in a plastic bag (or leave them in the bag they came in), but ensure you leave the bag slightly open. If you keep carrots in a sealed bag or airtight container, they will give off moisture which leads to rot. I usually add paper towels to the bag, as an easy way to absorb moisture, changing them every few days or when damp.
- Keep the unpeeled carrots in a cool, dark place, such as the crisper drawer in your fridge.
- Don't keep them near ethylene gas-producing fruits such as pears or bananas because this rapidly speeds up their spoilage.
The above tips for proper storage should ensure your carrots stay fresh for up to two weeks.
A second option, for long-term storage, is to blanch them in boiling water for several minutes and then freeze them in a freezer bag. But take note, they will lose some flavor and texture this way, so if you don't want extra soft carrots with a milder taste, this might not be the best storage method for you.
Finally, you can keep carrots submerged in water in an airtight container for several weeks, but it's useful to know a lot of the nutrients are water-soluble so they will end up in the water rather than in the carrots. You can use any sealed container for this purpose, and I like to use this method if I have raw, cut carrots that didn't get used for whatever reason rather than whole ones I'll just leave in the bag.
How to Tell if Carrots Have Gone Bad
It isn't hard to tell whether your carrots are spoiled. If they smell bad or look slimy or mushy, you should definitely throw them out because they are beyond eating. If there's only one small moldy spot, it's fine to cut that out and eat the remainder of the carrot.
When stored wrong or exposed to moisture, carrots can go bad fairly fast. So unless you have a root cellar at your disposal, make sure you keep them in open plastic bags or zip-top bags in the refrigerator or in water in a large container. That way, the shelf life of your carrots will be maximized.
This is simply down to the carrots starting to dehydrate and doesn't mean they've gone bad. Just think of it like how your face gets dry during the winter months. As for baby carrots, since they're typically just shaved-down regular carrots, you will often notice a white coating. This is because they've been peeled, so just soak them in water for a bit and they'll be fine again.
Although plain-boiled carrots are an obvious and simple choice, they aren't necessarily always the best option. I love to make glazed carrots sometimes. I boil peeled carrots until they're still crisp and then drain off the water and add butter and either honey or sugar to the pan. Let them cook gently in a single layer until they're tender.
So long as you scrub and wash them, carrots don't have to be peeled, although many people do because they don't especially like the rough texture. Whether you're using carrots as a main ingredient or adding appeal to a dish, peeling them is completely up to you.
Carrots don't make you see better in the dark. This myth was started by the British during World War II so their enemies wouldn't know about radar technology advances. There is a grain of truth however that carrots are rich in carotenoids and being low in those can negatively affect your vision.
- Carrot leaves are edible. After washing them, try them in a salad, stir fry, or as a soup topping. They have a slightly bitter flavor that won't appeal to everybody, but if you do like them, it's a great way to add an unusual flavor to your recipes by using something you would otherwise have thrown out.
- How many carrot seeds do you think are in one teaspoon? Carrot seeds are so tiny that one teaspoon is about 2,000 seeds!
Now you know how to store grocery store carrots, you can use them in more dishes. Carrots are a nutritious and tasty choice and most people enjoy them. So whether carrot cake, glazed carrots, or even crisp raw carrots are your favorite way to enjoy this vegetable, there is certainly no shortage of recipe ideas.