Freezing is a great way to preserve an abundance of carrots at harvest time to make meal prep a cinch and enjoy them all year round.
We typically have a decent harvest of carrots from our garden each year to find ways to use up and put up for later. While I really love canning much of our produce, some things I simply prefer to freeze. We’re not fortunate enough to have a root cellar here, or I’d probably go that route. However, what we are blessed with is a large deep freeze and I generally put a few vegetables in there at harvest time to use throughout the year. So long as I fit them in before the deer gets butchered….
Anyway, freezing carrots, really any vegetable is super simple. It’s not particularly time consuming and I think carrots retain more flavor. Canned carrots to me are just mush. Frozen carrots can be used just as if they were fresh out of the garden, which is a bonus when making beef stew in the crockpot and such.
How to Freeze Carrots
Advantages of freezing carrots
- Frozen carrots retain more flavor and nutrients than their canned counterparts
- No liquid to drain off
- Less time consuming
- Can be done in small batches and the quantity can be adjusted
- Less mushy than canned carrots
Disadvantages of freezing carrots
- Take up often valuable space in freezer
- They still need cooked off before they are soft enough to eat in soups and stews
- Can require tossing into the compost if you lose power for long periods of time
Do carrots need peeled before freezing?
The short answer is, no. Carrots actually never need peeled (assuming they were grown in your garden, or at the very least in soil you know wasn’t sprayed with herbicides and pesticides). They can simply be scrubbed off of dirt and used without being peeled. However, many people say the peel has a bitter taste and it can also turn particularly gritty and tough. I personally choose to turn my hands orange and peel the carrots before I chop off the very ends. It’s a personal preference, but there is not anything wrong with peels. They’re just not for me.
Do you have to blanch carrots to freeze them?
Like all things, there are safety reasons for most food preservation steps. That is why you typically blanch vegetables before freezing them. The blanching, which is putting them in scalding water momentarily before placing them in an ice bath immediately after to stop the cooking process, destroys the enzymes before they’re put in the freezer. Believe it or not, those enzymes can live on even in the freezer. It takes mere minutes to blanch them, so that’s what we choose to do. It also helps the cooking process. While they’re still far from cooked, blanched carrots cook more evenly and quicker for me than ones that weren’t blanched.
The Best Storage Solutions for Frozen Carrots
I used to always freeze our produce in jars. Now, I don’t and I’ll explain why in a moment. However, jars are a great way to freeze produce, especially if you’re trying to avoid plastic. If you choose jars, make sure your jars are freezer safe. The freezer safe jars are straight up and down with no curvature at the top. The jars with a curve have a higher incidence of breaking and cracking when frozen. You can utilize the straight jars for canning, but you cannot utilize the curved jars for freezing.
Another simple solution is freezer bags. You can put the carrots in a freezer bag, leave just a small hole and stick a straw in it to suck the excess air out of it before sealing it up. Write on the front what it is, and toss it in the freezer. If you’re okay with plastic this is an inexpensive way to store them.
The solution we use now still uses plastic, which I’m not a huge fan of, but it gets all of the air out. The less air, the less incidence of freezer burn and the longer the food keeps. We use a food saver that we invested in to preserve our meat from wild game and the hog we butchered last year. I love our food saver and use it a lot. It keeps the food in the freezer a lot longer and was well worth the investment for us, but if you don’t often freeze things and have an abundance of meat or vegetables to put in the freezer, it may not be worth the investment.
What You Need to Freeze Carrots
- Carrots (any amount noting 10 pounds yields about 24 cups of coined carrots)
- Storage containers (freezer safe jars, bowls, bags, or foodsaver bags)
- A 5 quart pot
- Ice Water
- Sharp Knife
Wash, Peel, Slice
Begin by washing and scrubbing your carrots. Alternatively, if you plan to peel them, they can be peeled and then rinsed. You’ll want to remove the very end of each carrot. Toss them into the compost pile, feed them to the chickens and ducks, give them to the rabbits or pigs, just don’t let them go to waste.
I always coin my carrots because that’s generally how I utilize them in my recipes. However, you can also cube them or even julienne them. You can also leave them whole or in large chunks. It’s kind of up to you. The steps are the same.
Fill stock pot(s)
Fill a large, 5 quart stock pot with water. Bring it to a boil over medium high heat. In another large pot, bowl, or plugged sink basin, you need to fill it full of very cold water and add ice to keep it nice and cold. I usually make the ice water when the boiling water is starting to boil and will add ice when the cubes begin getting small.
Once your water is boiling, place your carrots into the pot of boiling water. Boil for exactly 2 minutes.
Remove the carrots from the boiling water and immediately immerse them into the ice water. Cool them for exactly 2 minutes.
Dry the Carrots
Place the carrots on a towel, on a rack, or even in a colander to allow the water to begin dripping off. Then, grab a towel and pat them dry as best as you can. The more water you remove, the better because it will turn into ice crystals in the freezer….
Place them in containers
If you’re using jars or bowls, you’ll want to leave 1/2″ of headspace and then put the lid on it. You can leave more space if you don’t need as large of a serving as that in the jar, but you cannot leave less space.
Conversely you can place them in freezer bags, and remove the air by a straw or immersing the bag full of carrots in water up to the zipper and zipping while immersed.
A food saver you just measure the serving amounts you want and follow your machine instructions.
Label, date, and immediately place in freezer
That’s it. The packages are ready to be labeled, dated and placed in the freezer. I tend to put them in the coldest part of the freezer at least for a while so they can freeze faster, then I can move them into a better spot.
Frozen carrots will keep up to a year, after a year they’re still safe to eat, they just lose some of their flavor and nutritive value.
We usually put up a decent amount of carrots this way every year. It makes it nice to cut down on the prep work and they still retain a lot of their flavor and nutrients.
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