I don’t grow carrots.
In fact, I despise growing carrots so much I’d rather not eat carrots at all than grow them myself. And you know, it’s not actually that I despise growing carrots as much as I despise harvesting and washing them.
Unlike their underground friends — potatoes, turnips, radishes and beets — who make a regular appearance in our garden, carrots seem to cling to the dirt that nourished them. No amount of scrubbing removes the gritty black stuff from each of the little ribs that flank their sides and I’ve found over the years that I simply have very little tolerance for being hunched over the sink scrubbing any vegetables for which I’m not entirely smitten. Now, tomatoes? I’d scrub for days for a good tomato, but a carrot? Not so much.
So I buy them. I wait until this time of year when local carrots are going for a quarter per pound and I stock up. I let some other sucker do most of the washing — probably a machine, I don’t even care — and I pay for a little orange goodness to stock the freezer.
We much prefer the texture and taste of carrots frozen at peak freshness to those that have been canned, so I thought I’d share with you today just how we do that. There’s nothing wrong with canned carrots — and one of these days I’ll probably get around to a carrot canning tutorial, too — but this is just how we like ours. Ready?
Get yourself some carrots. If you’ve grown them yourself, you’re going to have to scrub them up. If you bought them or you suckered some other poor soul into scrubbing them, then a quick rinse will do the trick.
Peel the carrots.
And then chop them up into fat little carrot coins.
No, more than that. You need lots. We’re squirreling these away for winter, remember?
I tend to get about 78% out of my carrots. That is, if I buy and process nine pounds of whole carrots, I end up with about seven pounds of fat little carrot coins in the freezer. The other 22%, peels and ends, go to the pigs. If you don’t have a bunch of swine eating you out of house and home you could always compost them though.
Now blanch them. First, dunk into a pot of boiling water and let sit for two minutes (make it five if you’ve got small, whole carrots that you’ve not cut into coins.) Once the two minutes is up, transfer them immediately to an ice water bath.
Blanching neutralizes the enzymes that make vegetables go bad, those that change color and compromise taste. Some people profess to freeze all manner of vegetables without this step — and report positively on the outcome — but since I’ve never skipped it I can’t, in good conscience, recommend you do.
Drain them a bit. I simply transfer them from the ice water bath to a colander in my sink as I work.
Bag them up. Ziplocs or vacuum bags work well. Use quart sized bags (of either variety) for one pound portions, gallon for two pound portions. I tend to use gallon sized bags because we like leftovers and I’m feeding an army of four — dear heavens, tweens eat a lot! — but I suspect quart sized bags would work for most families.
Seal them up and stick them in your freezer. If you’re using ziplocs just squeeze out the air as well as you can.
That’s it. Simple, tasty, and inexpensive!