My 2011 Carrot Harvest & Some Preserving Tips

Look at this.

Just take a look at THIS!!

I finally have CARROTS!! BIG CARROTS!

Oh, how I’ve tried and tried for carrots.

Remember my very first carrot harvest back in 2009? The entire harvest fit in a bowl. With room to spare.

And last year’s 2010 carrot harvest. A little better. Enough to fill a plate.

But this year… THIS year… I filled the table!

Progress, people! Progress.

For the past two years I’ve planted Scarlet Nantes carrots. Small and sweet, but not much to them. This year I planted the Tendersweet variety. And I’m in love.

What a great harvest this was! Although… now I’m kinda wishing I’d left them in the ground. I hate it when I get too antsy and get ahead of myself!

I couldn’t help it though! I pulled up one carrot just to see how they were doing, and was so excited at how big it was, before I knew it, I’d pulled up every single carrot in the bed! With help from the kids of course, who were just as thrilled as I was at the bounty we were uncovering!

We filled a laundry basket with these guys. (While Xia sat on the ground in front of a tray of tomatoes I’d just picked, and took a bite out of each one while she waited. Which was way too cute.)

And now I have a kitchen table covered with carrots. And I’m leaving town in two days. Gotta figure out what to do with them.

See, I was thinking that since the tops of the carrots were turning brown that I’d better get them up before they started to get a bitter flavor. I don’t know why I had this idea, I don’t even know if that happens or not, but it seems like I’ve heard that somewhere.

But after consulting my books, it seems that leaving them in the ground would have been the best thing to do, as long as we don’t have a really wet season.

From what I’ve read, there are two good ways to preserve a fresh carrot harvest:

1. Leave them in the ground through the winter. Just snip the tops off, and cover the rows with hay or leaves to prevent freezing (unless it’s a wet winter). If you live where there are really cold, deep freezing winters, cover the rows with whole hay bales, then cover those with plastic.

Too bad I’ve already pulled them up.

Next option…

2. If the season is turning out to be a very wet one, it’s best to pull the carrots up. You can then store them, unwashed, in a box or bucket of sand. Just stick them in there, and pull them back up again as needed. Store this in a root cellar or cool, dry place.

You think they’d mind if we bring home a few buckets of sand from the beach when we go there this weekend? I need sand.

In the meantime, I’ve cut the tops off of the carrots, wiped the dirt away, wrapped them in paper towels and stuffed them into a ziploc bag to sit in the fridge until we return. They should stay fresh like that for a couple of weeks.

I might play with them a little too. I’ve already canned carrots, but I’ve never dehydrated any. I think I’ll try that.

Isn’t this great though?! Carrots. I finally have carrots!

So, what do you do with your homegrown carrots? How do you keep them fresh? Do you leave them in the ground, or store them a different way?

23 thoughts on “My 2011 Carrot Harvest & Some Preserving Tips”

  1. So excited to read about preserving carrots! Every time I’ve pulled them up, they’ve gone limp really quickly. This will definitely help when I’m ready to plant next season!

  2. You can dehydrate your carrots raw or steam blanched. I’d do the extra step of blanching. I did some both ways last fall and the steam blanched ones have kept their color a lot better–the raw dehydrated carrots are very pale already and don’t look very appetizing at all. Plus the blanched ones cook up quicker when you want to rehydrate them. You could also steam and puree them into baby food to freeze or dry if you have a bunch extra. Check the links for instructions on either the dehydrating or making dehydrated baby food. Have fun with all those carrots!

  3. Kendra,

    I’ve been checking in on your blog for a while now and finally decided to start my own. Not much to it yet, but I’ll be working on it. This year was the first that I tried to grow carrots, and we are very happy! We grew “Short and Sweets” which as you can imagine aren’t meant to get very big. They are doing very well and our harvest is great! I started with those because I wasn’t sure how my soil would do with larger ones. Next year I am definitely going to try a larger variety!

    I planted an early harvest to eat now (we go through an incredible amount of carrots in our house), and then I have two more batches that I plan to leave in the ground until we need them. I am in upstate NY so it gets quite cold here, but I doubt these carrots will last until November because we eat so many carrots. I’ve read that the cold turns the starch to sugar and so carrots (and parsnips) left in the ground taste sweeter.

    A word about soil – I’ve always heard that sandy soil is best for carrots. We have clay here (it’s horrible!) so we have raised beds filled with topsoil, compost, etc. I also mix in the bedding from my chickens – pine shavings – in the fall or early spring. I have found that the pine shavings really keep my soil fluffy, and I think that is why the carrots did so well. Just a thought for those of you looking to improve your soil – especially if you’ve got clay!

  4. I’ve used my oven to dehydrate carrots in the past and it worked great! Just an FYI 🙂 Have a great trip this weekend!

  5. Hi there! Im a new reader to your blog, and am enjoying all your lovely posts. We are not homesteaders as such, we live in an urban environment, but Im doing my best to learn to live simply and learn to preserve food. I havent done any carrot preserving yet, though, as we get our produce from a local CSA and they seem to be able to supply us with carrots all year round (probably because the farmers are using these groovy tricks you have mentioned here!). Blessing on your sweet harvest, God is good indeed! 🙂

  6. We eat what we want as they grow, leaving the rest in the ground. In late fall, we cover them with about a foot of straw or hay (we also do this with potatoes and they stay great until about March here in IN). That prevents the ground from freezing, so then you can just scoot over some straw and pull as needed. They don’t get bitter, although since the very tops of the carrots aren’t too deep in the ground like potatoes are, we sometimes have to cut off the top inch or so of the carrot. You can tell if or how much to cut off by just noticing if there’s a difference in color near the top of the carrot. We have tried keeping potatoes and carrots indoors in the cooler basement, etc., but this method is the best we’ve found if you don’t have the constant, very cool environment of an actual root cellar.

  7. I tried leaving carrots in the ground one year, and when the ground froze, they turned to mush. I think you have to heavily mulch them or something – more research needed.

    I have dehydrated carrots very successfully. Cut into coin, dice or julienne shapes. Just be sure to steam them for a couple of minutes before spreading them out on trays. It begins to break down the cell structure and allows them to dehydrate better. I use the dried carrots in things that will be cooked a long time in liquid, like soup or pot roast. I don’t know if they would be good rehydrated and just eaten alone. (but I don’t like them that way anyway).

  8. YAY!!! I love when something works out like this! Even when other crops fail, it’s always nice to at least get a little pat on the back with a successful crop! Enjoy my friend!

  9. Beeeautiful! Something tells me the kids will eat them up in no time. Is there anything better than a fresh pulled carrot?

  10. WOW! They’re HUGE! Did you fertilize anything special, or is it just this kind which comes out so big?
    Hope they taste as good as they look! Enjoy!*

  11. Thanks! We are planning on trying raised beds next year! We haven’t done it yet simply because my MIL did them (she lives directly across the road from us) and had such a hard time keeping the soil moist (it all just drained through and dried up so quickly).

  12. Oh I am SO envious!! Nearly all of our carrots were destroyed by voles and gophers (obviously undetected, since we’re always on the lookout for them here by the field). Carrots are one of my top three veggies to grow so I was extremely disappointed.

  13. We are thrilled for you. We’ve watched your garden progress over the last year and are growing along with you in New Hampshire. Our carrot harvest this year filled a plate (scarlet nantes). Seems we may need to make a switch to some bigger guys next year. Wish we could come celebrate with you. Sending prayers of thanks your way!

  14. I just posted about homegrown carrots this morning. I grow a rainbow blend plus palmex and scarlet nantes varietes and am so pleased to pull them up each year!

    Since we don’t care for the texture of canned carrots, I shredded and froze some (for soups and casseroles) and made carrot pickles out of the remainder.

    We still have a half-full bed that needs to mature couple more weeks plus a freshly planted bed for a fall crop. Those I intend to root cellar with damp sand.

    And I totally agree with Darcy…use fresh sand, not beach sand. Blech.

  15. I’d probably invest a few bucks and buy some playsand from the DIY store. That way – you have clean dry sand to start with. Anything you brought home from the beach would need to be dried out first, I would think.

    Awesome harvest, btw! we never had luck..but then our beds weren’t really deep enough for carrots.


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