Delicious, affordable and versatile, carrots are everything we could want in a vegetable.
It’s no wonder this nutritious, subtly sweet root vegetable is loved by young and old and is one of the most popular root vegetables in the world, second only to potatoes.
Carrots, whether red, purple, yellow or orange, are rich in fibre, vitamins and antioxidants that help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Their reputation for protecting eyesight, particularly night vision, is well earned due to their high content of vitamin A and beta carotene. While these fat-soluble nutrients are easier to absorb when carrots are cooked and served with a little bit of fat, all carrots, served any way, are an excellent addition to a healthy eating plan.
If you still have carrots in the ground, you can harvest them right away or wait until the snow flies. Carrots can tolerate frost and get a touch sweeter with a little cold. However, if your carrots are splitting, extremely large or starting to turn woody, it’s best to harvest them right away. Preventing your carrots from rotting due to wet soil or being eaten by pests are other reasons to consider harvesting right away.
If you have a big bounty of carrots from the garden, storing them so they don’t rot, shrivel or sprout can be a challenge, especially if the farmhouse no longer has a root cellar. Controlling for moisture and keeping carrots cool are key factors to successful long-term storage. Ideal storage for carrots and other root vegetables has temperatures of between 1 and 5 C and humidity of 90-95 per cent.
For best results, trim green tops, brush off large bits of dirt, sort out any damaged carrots, and air-dry slightly to remove any surface moisture before moving into long-term storage. Store as indicated below for store-bought carrots or bury in a large container of sand or sawdust in a cool, dark place. Check regularly for any signs of decay.
Once in your kitchen, the general rules for storing carrots are:
- Wash only when ready to use.
- Remove any green tops before storing as they will draw moisture out of the carrots and cause them to become limp.
- Do not store carrots with apples, pears, potatoes or other produce that emit ethylene gas and may cause carrots to become bitter.
- Keep in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper of your refrigerator. Line bag with a slightly damp towel if carrots dry out. Peeled, cut or ready-to-eat carrots can be stored in the same way.
- For crisp, easy-snacking carrots, keep a handful of chopped or baby-cut peeled carrots in a dish of water. Change water daily.
Baby-cut carrots are a convenient and healthy snack. They are not, however, baby carrots. They are large carrots that have been cut, shaved and polished into small snack-sized carrots. To keep the processing hygienic and safe, the carrots are washed with an approved, regulated chlorine wash. This wash kills pathogens but does not leave any residue that is harmful to humans. The bits of white that can sometimes be seen on the outside of these carrots is not a residue from processing, it is simply the carrots drying out. To minimize the appearance of the white, soak carrots in water before serving.
Raw, whole carrots will last in the fridge for three to four weeks. Peeled or cut carrots will last two to three weeks. So go ahead and buy a big bag and enjoy them every day in as many different ways as you can. Here are some recipes for you to consider.
A delicious homemade granola featuring carrots, seeds and nuts with classic carrot cake spices.
- 3 cups large-flake rolled oats
- 1-1/2 cups grated carrots
- 1/2 cup raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup raw, unsalted pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
- 1 cup nuts, coarsely chopped (pecans or walnuts)
- 3 tsp. pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger)
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 325 F.In large bowl combine oats, carrots, seeds, nuts, and pie spice. In small bowl, mix oil, syrup, brown sugar and vanilla.Pour oil mixture into oats and stir until well distributed. On large rimmed cookie sheet, spread out mixture evenly.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring every 8-10 minutes to ensure even browning. Remove from oven and cool completely. Place in airtight container. Store sealed in pantry for several weeks. For longer storage and maximum freshness, keep in freezer. Makes 5-6 cups.
Carrot and Apple Salad
A colourful and delicious salad that can easily be made ahead for a casual dinner at home, a potluck or a special occasion.
- 1-1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
- 3 tbsp. canola oil
- 2 tsp. sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 large carrots
- 1 large apple
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
Prepare dressing first so it’s ready to pour over the apple and carrot mix as soon as the apple has been grated. Prepare dressing by combining lemon juice, canola oil, sugar, salt and pepper in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously to mix well. Wash and grate carrots. Wash and grate apple leaving skin on. Combine carrots, apple, parsley, dressing and dried cranberries. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight to allow flavours to blend. Toss and adjust seasoning prior to serving. Store in refrigerator for up to 3 days.