So your garden produced a bounty of delicious carrots. Now you are presented with a problem. How to store the fresh carrots that you are growing in your garden and enjoy them for months to come.
From learning how to make butter, to preserving food grown in the garden, homesteading is a journey of learning.
Homegrown carrots are a nutritious and delicious treat. For the cost of a packet of seeds, you can grow a year’s supply of carrots. But it doesn’t help a whole lot if you end up dumping half of them because they end up soft and moldy.
Our garden does really well with growing carrots. We’ve had a bumper crop of carrots several years in a row, and it can be a challenge to store that many at a time.
There are several different ways of storing carrots so they last for months. Not all of us have a dirt cellar or a basement. Storing garden carrots is possible no matter what your circumstances.
Find what works best for you, experiment if necessary, and enjoy those delicious carrots for months to come.
Carrots are root vegetables, meaning they grow underground. One way of storing carrots for the long term is leaving them in the ground. In fall, after several killing frosts, cover them with a thick layer of straw.
When you need them throughout the winter, go dig them from the garden.
This method of winter harvest does not work for us. We get several feet of snow, plus our ground freezes completely.
Digging carrots out of the ground in minus 30 weather is a challenge.
On our homestead, we have an amazing root cellar that I absolutely love.
We use a method of storing carrots in between wood shavings and are able to keep them from September until May the following year. Root crops love a good cellar, because of the humidity and cool temperature.
Learning how to store carrots from the garden properly will save you money, plus allow you to eat more nutritious food than you would find at the grocery store.
Before harvesting your carrots, be sure to leave them in the ground until after the first frost. Frost helps to sweeten the carrots and makes them taste better.
The best time to harvest carrots is after several hard touches of frost.
Washing Carrots Before Storing Them
Do not wash your carrots before storing them, if possible.
It is best to rub off the dirt from your carrots as best as you can and store them with some dirt on them. Unwashed carrots store better than washed carrots.
With that being said, we have washed our carrots before storing them with great success. There is a greater chance they will rot this way.
If you decide to wash carrots before storing them, you need to make sure they are dry before storing them.
Excess water encourages mold. Not washing them prevents this problem.
Dig them out of the garden, and scrub them with your hands (use garden gloves to protect your hands). Cut off the carrot tops with a sharp knife.
Including the greens when storing them can also act the same way as excess water; excess moisture encourages rot.
3 Ways To Store Carrots From The Garden
There are three main ways to store carrots when you have a lot to store.
Now mind you, I am not talking about buying a bag at a time and storing them for several weeks. I am talking about storing carrots for months.
They are root vegetables and are not that hard to store. Same as when preserving potatoes for the winter.
You just need to know how you need to handle them.
If you grow a lot of carrots or prefer to buy them from a farmer’s market when they are in season, knowing how to store carrots so they don’t get old so quickly can save you a lot of money.
Plus, they are super delicious.
Store in Rubbermaid Containers or Wooden Box Between Shavings
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Because we have a root cellar, this is my preferred method. What you need is a Rubbermaid Tote or wooden box. We use one that is 53 Litres, although smaller ones would work as well.
In the bottom of the box, put a thin layer of wood shavings (you can find them at a feed store or order them here). Then add a layer of raw carrots that have their tops cut off.
Add another layer of shavings. Alternate layers of carrots and shavings until carrots are gone.
Cover with a lid and store in a place that is anywhere from 0.5°C to 4.5°C (33-40°F) and with 90% to 95% humidity.
Finding a place that is the correct temperature is often the hardest part. Below are some ideas on places where to store carrots.
Store in 5 Gallon Pails Using Sand
This method is very similar to the above method. While you could use Rubbermaid containers, and layer whole carrots with sand instead of shavings, pails are easier to carry.
Using clean 5 gallon pails, alternate layers of clean sand and carrots. If you don’t have sand in your yard, a place that supplies rocks would be able to get you sand as well.
This method is another way that works really well if you have a dirt cellar, but these you can also store in a cool place in your basement. The sand acts as an insulator, as well as preventing excess moisture.
Store in Plastic Bags
This method is the best method if you have a cold place in your basement, or of storing them in the fridge.
In large, 10lb bags, layer in as many carrots as possible. Close by tying or with ties. With a sharp knife or fork, poke many holes into the bag. This will help to prevent too much moisture.
4 Places to Store Carrots From The Garden
Carrots store best around 0.5°C to 4.5°C (33-40°F) and 90% to 95% humidity.
With this in mind, I know it can be hard to find the perfect spot. Four places that you can store carrots are a root cellar, basement, refrigerator, or freeze them.
The best long-term storage option for carrots is a cool dark place.
Our root cellar has a dirt floor and is built underground. It stores potatoes and carrots for a long time.
The humidity and temperature of a root cellar are hard to beet for root vegetables. The temperature can be anywhere from 32*F-38*F.
Store carrots layered in wood shavings or sand for best results.
Root vegetables stored in a cellar can last up to six months (or longer).
The warmth of the summer is what usually brings up the temperature. Warmth causes carrots to grow soggy, and will quickly make them unedible.
The cool floor of a basement is another way to store carrots from your garden. A cold storage room in the basement acts almost like a cellar.
If you have the opportunity to insulate a room for the purpose of a cold room, keeping carrots is easy.
While they might not last as long as they would in a root cellar, carrots kept in bags, on a cold cement floor, also keep well over three months.
The preferred method of storing carrots this way is by storing them in plastic bags, or by burying them in sand-filled buckets.
From learning how to ripen green tomatoes indoors, to storing carrots the proper way, homesteading and gardening is an always learning adventure.
No basement and no root cellar? A refrigerator can also keep carrots for several months.
Store the carrots in plastic bags just as you would otherwise, or vacuum seal them in bags. Vacuum sealing helps control the humidity and prevent excess or too little moisture.
Keep them away from other fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears, and bananas. These fruits produce ethylene gas, which acts as a hormone and hastens the ripening of fruit. It will cause carrots to become bitter.
Be sure to remove the green tops attached to the crown of the carrots, as this will lead to condensation inside the bag.
My least favorite way of storing carrots long-term, but also an option. To store carrots in the freezer, you need to shred, slice or dice them before you freeze them.
Pack them well into containers or freezer bags, and freeze. These will keep up to 6-12 months. Freezing carrots is great for recipes such as carrot cake, or for sauteing rice or stirfry.
Storing carrots for the long term is not only possible, but it also works great. You could try one of these methods or all of them. Growing carrots in your garden is an easy way to add more nutrients to your diet, for minimal sacrifice.
Carrots store well in rubber containers, pails, or plastic bags.
The best way to store your carrot crop is in a root cellar because they store for the longest period of time, but a basement floor, refrigerator, or freezer preserves carrots as well. The shelf life of your carrots depends a lot on the conditions that they are kept in.