On Saturday I made stew, the kind that simmers in the oven all day and fills your house with a wonderful savory aroma. I also made up a batch of granola and toasted that in the oven at the same time, since they cook at roughly the same temperature.
The stew recipe called for carrots. I didn’t have any left in the fridge, so I went out to the garage to see if any had survived my “storage experiment.” Last fall when I harvested my carrots, it was done very quickly and with little thought of how I would store them. Time was in short supply with a newborn to take care of. I pulled them out of the ground, ripped off the green tops to toss to the chickens, and threw the carrots in a big plastic bin. Some of the carrots I took straight inside and put them in my vegetable drawer.
I think it was sometime in December when I got enough courage to assess the state of my carrots I had left in that bin. (I had finally run out of carrots in my vegetable drawer.) When I dug in, my heart sank as the first couple carrots were really bendable and squishy in spots. I thought my carelessness had caused the whole lot to go bad. But once a got a few layers in, I started finding carrots that were still very firm. I sorted out anything that was rubbery/questionable to toss to the chickens. Then I took any carrots that had been broken or had any damage from harvesting, but still were firm and edible looking, and put them in my fridge to use up immediately.
Then I was still left with a pile of carrots that looked and felt good, but I didn’t have enough room in my fridge to store them. I have read before that you can layer carrots in sand (there is some argument over how moist the sand should be) for winter storage. I didn’t have any sand, but I had pea gravel and newspaper. So I grabbed 2 empty plastic bins and in the first one I layered carrots in pea gravel, throwing in a few drops of water as I went. In the second bin I layered carrots in newspaper, and I also added a little bit of water in the layers as I went. I didn’t get particular about not letting carrots touch. I just hand shredded the newspaper and quickly layered them in.
So when I needed carrots on Saturday morning, I dug into the bin with newspaper to see if I had any edible carrots. They were still good, for the most part. I would say that about 20% of what I pulled out was rubbery or otherwise questionable and got tossed to the chickens. The rest went into the stew. So for a very simple, very cheap way to store carrots, shredded newspaper with a little added moisture, stored in a cold (probably around 32-38 degrees in the winter) garage works pretty well.
I haven’t checked the pea gravel carrots yet to see how they fared, but I will let you know when I do.
The two varieties of carrots I planted were Tendersweet and Sweetness, but when I harvested them I mixed them all up. I think the stubbier, rounded ones are Sweetness and the pointier ones are Tendersweet.
How do you store your extra carrots to make your harvest last as long as possible?