How to store Carrots & Beets

walking-with-carrots

 

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I love this time of year in Canada.  I know I profess to hate fall, but really I don’t.  What I don’t like is a summer that doesn’t really exist which is what we had in Southern Ontario this year.  It didn’t have the kind of heat I look forward to and when you combine that with the fact that this spring was as cold as most winters, and the winter was as cold as most winters on Mars … well, I could just use a few more weeks of heat and sun.

I got that last week when a few days rolled in that had the heat of summer, but the feeling of fall.  The sun is lower in the sky, the leaves on the trees make a certain rustling sound that they only seem to make in the fall and the nights are cool enough to warrant eating soup.  Kind of a perfect combination really.

I took advantage of the weather, the good mood and a day off to head up to my community garden to pick my carrots.  I still have another bed of carrots that I planted later to pick after a frost, but these ones I had to get out of the ground.  They were starting to be feasted upon by a variety of forest creatures.  Mice, rabbits, Griffins.  That sort of thing.

There are a few different long term storage methods for carrots.  For any of them to work there has to be a way to keep the moisture in the carrot.  If you have a garage you can sometimes just pile them into a Rubbermaid garbage can for the winter.

If your winters aren’t toooooo cold, you can just leave them in the ground.  In fact that’s what I do.  Which normally works out great, unless you come across a winter like the Mars winter we had last year.  More than once I had to go outside with buckets of hot water to try to thaw the soil enough to pull out a carrot.

And then there’s the sand method.  It involves putting a 1″ layer of damp sand in the bottom of a crate and then layering your carrots on top.  You use a layer of damp sand and then a layer of carrots (not touching).  Another thin layer of sand, and then another layer of carrots and so on.

The dampness of the sand keeps the carrots from going soft.  Just keep the crate in a cold room or garage and you should have carrots for the rest of the winter.

And this method isn’t just for gardeners.  It will also work with that big, bulk bag of carrots from Costco.  Buy the huge bag, then store them in damp sand and never have a bag of rotted slimy carrots again.  Maybe.

 

You can also use damp Peat Moss as your medium.  Since I had that, that’s what I used.  What you’re doing basically is reproducing the conditions that the carrots live in.  Moist dirt.

 

filling-crate-with-peat

 

I always start off wearing gloves with jobs like this.  And then I ditch them.  That’s why I always have such luxurious looking nails. Cough, cough.

 

pulling-on-gloves

 

You may have noticed at the bottom of the above picture my plant marker.  I had some plastic plant markers from Dollarama that I was using to label the different variety of vegetables in my garden but I ran out of them. So I just started writing on rocks.  My garden has plenty of rocks.  I’m pretty sure they fell out of the head of the gardener who had this plot before me.  Because who would ever give up such a nice garden allotment?  Only someone with rocks in their head obviously.

plant-marker

 

Bring your whole set up out to the garden with you.  Your crate and peat moss or sand.  That way there’s less a chance of them drying out. Just pick the carrot …

 

pulling-carrot

 

Cut the top off (as close to the shoulders of the carrot as you can get) …

 

cutting-off-carrot-top

 

… and layer them in the crate.  Sand (or peat moss), carrots, sand, carrots, … until the crate is full.  Since my crate had spaces in it big enough for the peat moss to fall through I lined it with a flour sack tea towel.  Then I’ll fold the towel over the top of the final layer of peat moss.  You can also just put a folded up newspaper on top.

 

 

storing-carrots-long-term

 

You don’t have to do this with a super-cute crate either.  You can use a tupperware bin. In fact a tupperware bin would probably be better because it’ll keep the sand and peat moss damp.  I’m going to see how this works in the super-cute crates and if I notice the peat moss drying up I’ll just move everything into a tupperware bin.

 

rainbow-carrots

 

As cute as a crate is, really this is the best way to look at your carrot stash.  Just laying in the garden looking all carrotty and beautiful. Incidentally it’s also the best way to catch a Griffin.

The damp sand method is also a great way to store beets and I may even give garlic a shot with it.  Garlic also grows underground and needs a lot of dampness to not dry up.

The carrots I’m growing in my front yard are going to stay where they are with a heavy layer of straw mulch over them.  Hopefully we won’t be dealing with another winter from Mars again, but if we are at least there’ll be Carrot Ginger Soup to get me through it.

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26 Comments

  1. Sandra says:

    Nice! StupidStore has a great sale on carrots and beets this week! 20 pounds for $6!! I was thinking of canning the beets (which is the way I like them best), but I was worried about the carrots. Thanks!

  2. Mel says:

    I just saw this trick on a show about doomsday preppers! What a coincidence you explaining it so neatly. Bravo, you are all set!

  3. Ella says:

    I’ve been wondering about cold storage–actually thinking about starting some myself. Thanks for the tips!

  4. Ellen says:

    Beautiful carrots!!! Feeling a little jealous over here. I live in Denver and for some reason have always had trouble growing carrots. What I can grow is lots and lots of carrot tops, sans actual carrots. To make myself feel better about my gardening prowess, I’ve learned that those carrot tops make an extremely delicious pesto! Maybe you already knew this, but I thought I’d share in case you were looking for something to do with those delicious fronds. I made my carrot top pesto this year with toasted pecans and pecorino romano…delicioso!! Plus it freezes really well 😉

  5. Grammy says:

    Beautiful carrots.

    Garlic, really? I’ll be interested to see if this method works as well for garlic as it does for carrots and beets. You’ll let us know.

    It would be most helpful if you would post some pictures of the Griffin damage. I hadn’t considered that until you suggested it, but it would be very cool if I could have some way to determine if that’s the cause of some crop damage. If I know it’s Griffins I can devise a plan to catch those culprits.

  6. Tigersmom says:

    Very pretty carrots.

    You must spend a fraction of what I do at the grocery store. Seriously, when you had the bad summer and took time off, I worried about you and your mortgage and other bills, but I was pretty certain you weren’t gonna starve.

    • Karen says:

      Not only did I not starve I gained 5 pounds! Which I subsequently lost running away from my accountant and mortgage holder. ~ karen

  7. Jane P says:

    Yum!! We’ve got the beginnings of our first garden..any tips would be awesome.

    At times I struggle working from home, but then I sit back and look at all of the money we save doing it ourselves. Refurbishing furniture, painting, planting, canning, you name it and it’s on our list. You realize how vulnerable you are when the grocery store does not have something due to weather conditions in another part of the country. Being self-sufficient is a good thing…thanks for all the tips!

  8. Alice says:

    Let me be sure I understand: it is ok if the wintered over carrots freeze, they just have to stay moist? This will open up a whole new area of obsession for me! That would also mean I could use any remaining ones as Griffin bait in the spring.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Alice. For the most part yes. But you’re better off having the carrots NOT freeze. This is why you add a thick layer of straw over the bed. Frozen carrots can be pulled up and used, but if you keep mulch on them they’ll last longer in the ground. Freezing and thawing and freezing and thawing makes them mushy and eventually rotty. ~ karen!

  9. Cred says:

    Pleeeeease help me grow carrots like yours. I have trouble germinating them and those that grow never develop much root. I want enough carrots to store. Yours are picture perfect (and while they might be more practical in the Tupperware, I thank you for the pretty crate photo)

    If you have a cold room (yes, I do-yay! But no friggin carrots to put in it) or cool spot in the basement, the garlic may store this way but garlic won’t tolerate freezing temps- these garages on Mars are too cold in winter. An ontario garlic farmer told me the best way to extend garlic storage is peeling and freezing- I still keep some in a cute rustic wire basket on the counter but invariably they tend to dry out just before the garlic harvest of the next season. (Lest one wonders why garlic won’t store in the dirt in freezing temps but should be stored in the freezer, I believe just as you stated above about carrots, the fluctuating temps cause thaw and re freeze, then rotting mush.)

  10. Cred says:

    I’ve been meaning to ask- you used to sometimes post a ‘behind the scenes’ behind a post, could you show us how you get such amazing shots of yourself? Do you use a tripod or a friend?

    Love that first photo in this post.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cred. I use a tripod and a remote control to get shots of myself. I still do a behind the scenes every once in a while! 🙂 ~ karen!

  11. Barbie says:

    I don’t know Karen….have you done this method before? We tried this one time….we layered in a Styrofoam cooler with dirt just like you did here stored in the root cellar and they all rotted. Then we tried the rubbermaid in the garage and they all rotted. So the last few years I have spent weeks on end canning every dang carrot in my garden!!! I know it’s possible since it’s my husbands old farmer relatives that told us how….we must be idiots or something! They say it has always worked for them…. I say they are NUTS…or we are! Please let me know how this goes for you. Also this year I did an experiment and vacuum packed some and am storing in a spare fridge along with some beets.

    • Pam'a says:

      I’m wondering if your problem might be using containers made of non-breathable materials. Mightn’t air circulation solve that problem? Just a science-girl guess.

  12. Sandra says:

    How about turnips? Okay, rutabagas (I grew up with them being turnips, damn it!)

  13. Leslie says:

    More great info. Thanks!

  14. Pat says:

    I took advantage of the Superstore 10 lb bag of carrots and 10 lb bag of russets for $6. And they’re local. And pretty nice produce to boot. I love fall.

    I have the same pair of Fiskars and mine look as well used as yours; I finally bought a leather holster for them as I kept forgetting where I put them down in the yard. Once the yard is put to bed for winter, hubby will clean off any rust on the blades, oil them up with the other garden shears and sharpen them for spring. I could do that chore, but I’ll be in the kitchen making a beef roast with carrots and potatoes around it in the roaster.

  15. Nur Costa says:

    Dat ass though…

    (Sorry, had to say it).

  16. Amber says:

    Is that your butt? It looks fantastic! The carrots look nice too.

  17. Elen Grey says:

    The carrots are beautiful. I was pleased with my first crops of purple and yellow carrots this year. But now I have even bigger plans for your next. Go big or go home. 😀

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  19. Amber says:

    Mmmm
    cooked beets, sauteed for 5 minutes with brown mustard seeds (after they’ve popped), sea salt and serrano chiles, then dressed with a bit of orange juice. Winter time heaven.

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