Garden Update: Freezing Carrots

harvesting and storing your garden carrots

God is good! I really didn’t expect much else from the garden this year to be honest, we’d kind of given up on it and neglected it.

We did get a lot of strawberries in the spring, and we got some peas, beets, grape tomatoes, a couple of heads of broccoli, and our onions..but with such a dry summer this year everything else was doing pretty poorly. We haven’t had a single cucumber that looks edible (they all grew funny and turned orange), our lettuce and cabbage didn’t turn out great, I wasn’t expecting anything from our big tomatoes¬†because we planted them very late, a lot of our pepper plants were looking not-so-hot, and our carrots were tiny even after the time they’re supposed to be done by.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I went out to the garden the other day and found all of this!

garden harvest 2012

I washed and chopped up the tomatoes and froze them in a couple of large freezer bags. There are still plenty of green tomatoes on the vines so we’ll see how many more ripen before I do anything with them. I’m hoping to make lots of salsa! I’ll chop or slice the peppers and freeze those as well.

The carrots were a bit more time consuming to freeze, but I thought I’d share the process with you.

Preparing Your Garden Carrots to Freeze

Freezing carrots works best with fresh carrots. You probably won’t want to use carrots from the grocery store, but if you don’t grow your own carrots you can probably find good, fresh ones at your local farmer’s market.

First, the carrots need to be washed. This doesn’t have to be a perfect job if you’re going to peel and slice them (which is what I did), but ¬†I didn’t want my cutting board and hands to get full of mud every time I grabbed new carrots to peel so I just dumped them in a sink of water and stirred them all around, changing the water a couple of times until it wasn’t so muddy.

harvesting and storing your garden carrots

Next comes to time consuming part; peeling and slicing your carrots. Not too much to be said about this step, but it helped to have some good music playing. It also helped a LOT to have Daddy entertaining the littles.

When you’re almost done peeling and slicing, start some water to boil in a large pot. Once it’s reached a full boil, you can start adding in batches of carrots. You’ll also want to fill a sink with cold water (ice water is best, but we didn’t have any ice so I kept refilling the sink with cold water as the sink warmed up.)

For sliced carrots, they only need to be blanched in the boiling water for about 2 minutes. This is done to kill the enzymes in the carrots that make them continue to ripen.

I didn’t get a picture of this step because I was working very quickly to get the carrots out of the water before too long, since over-cooking them can make them rubbery after they’ve been frozen. I used a large slotted spoon to get the carrots out of the pot but if you have a large metal colander that fits inside your pot, that will make your job easier.

Once the carrots have completely cooled, it’s time to freeze them. You can either freeze them directly into freezer bags in portion sizes suited to your family, or you can flash freeze them (which is what I did, so I would use less bags.) I spread the carrot slices onto cookie sheets and after they were frozen, I transferred them to large freezer bags. Freezing them this way makes them less likely to freeze together and saves me from having to whack the bag against the counter to break them apart.

harvesting and storing your garden carrots

Label your bags, and voila! You’re done, and you have lots of garden carrots to use all winter long. :)

*You can also use unpeeled carrots or cut them into larger chunks (like the size of baby carrots you’d buy from the store.) If you want to blanch carrots that are in larger pieces, you’ll need to increase the blanching time by a minute or two, depending on how big they are.

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