How to Store Carrots
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Storing carrots is a great way to extend the garden season and supply your own vegetables well into the winter. Carrots are fairly easy to grow in large quantities and can be stored a number of different ways. Here are three options for storing carrots that don’t require much fancy equipment!
Option 1: Leave them in the Ground!
If your carrots are just reaching maturity at the end of the season, leaving them in the garden in the winter is an easy option! Cover the carrot bed with at least 6 inches of mulch (like straw) to to insulate the roots. Then, when you need carrots, simply move it to the side and harvest a few at a time. The ground will keep the carrots moist and cool, and the mulch will keep them from freezing.
But what if your carrots have already reached maturity, or you can’t leave them in the ground at your community garden?
In this case you will want to harvest your carrots for storage. Cut the green tops off, leaving about a half inch of green shoots, and then follow one of these other methods for successful long-term storage. Be sure to remove any carrots that are damaged or have dings in the outer layer. These won’t store as well and should be eaten first.
*Washing your carrots before storage is optional. We prefer to brush off the soil by hand and not worry about some of it staying on there. If you choose to wash with water, you MUST let the carrots dry very well before storage. Ideally, let them dry in the sun for not more than 2-3 hours (otherwise, they may soften).
Option 2: Store them in the Fridge
Storing carrots in the refrigerator is an easy option. Carrots like to be kept in a moist, cool environment. Ideally between 32-38 degrees Fahrenheit and about 98% humidity. A refrigerator can get you fairly close to this desired range.
The best way we have found is to store carrots in the refrigerator is in plastic storage bags. We punch a few holes in the bags so that air can circulate. You can store them in one of the produce drawers, especially if you can set the moisture level in your drawer. We also line the bottom of the produce drawer with a paper towel to help absorb and retain moisture.
Option 3: Store in a Box with Damp Sand, Sawdust, or Wood Shavings
If you have a large quantity of carrots, or you’d rather avoid storing them in the refrigerator and using electricity, you can also store carrots in a box or bin. Much like the potato storage method we have previously described, this method entails creating an environment like a root cellar.
The photos here show our method of packing carrots in wood shavings in a 10 gallon plastic bin. We started by adding about 4 inches of wood shavings to the bottom of the bin. This helps to ensure insulation and good air circulation. Then, we put the carrots into the bin in layers, adding wood shavings between each layer. Try to avoid having the roots touch each other. We also made sure that each side of the bin had about 2 inches of shavings all the way up. Finally, we drilled holes in the bins to ensure circulation so that the carrots would not rot.
We’ll store these bins in our root cellar. They can also be stored in a cool, unheated, porch or garage. You need to be sure that they maintain a cool temperature without freezing.
Some folks also dig a hole in the ground for the container. Be sure you are digging your hole in a part of the yard that does not get too much sun. You’ll also need to be sure you have a way to access it if you get a lot of snow.
Whatever storage method you use for your carrots, be sure to check on them regularly. Promptly remove any roots that are getting soft or show signs of decay.