Carrots are one of those vegetables that, when you get them, you inevitably get way too many at once. While these nutritious veggies last a while in the fridge, if you wound up with a huge amount, thanks to a sale at the supermarket or an enormously successful crop from your home-garden, it can be a challenge to use them all up in time. Thankfully, you can save your precious carrots by preparing them correctly and placing them into the freezer!
Yes, you can freeze carrots, as long as you remove the stem and wash them thoroughly. If you want to, you can peel them as well, but it's not necessary. Cut your carrots into the desired size and shape, or leave them whole, boil them for 3-5 minutes, transfer to an ice-water bath, and then seal and pack into freezer bags.
The bonus with carrots is the wide variety of ways you can prepare them. Continue to learn more about preparing your versatile carrots for freezing below.
Benefits of Freezing Carrots
Carrots are full of beneficial nutrients and are especially helpful for people who have diabetes. These root vegetables contain a reasonably high amount of fiber in the form of pectin and soluble fibers that can assist with regular bowel movements.
In addition to the above benefits, carrots are an excellent source of several essential vitamins and minerals. These include biotin, potassium, and vitamins, most notably Vitamin A, through their beta-carotene abundance.
The primary reason to freeze carrots and other vegetables is that freezing these nutritious foods maintains their health benefits as long as you follow the required preparation methods. Having the ability to pull healthy pre-prepared foods from the freezer at a moment's notice is the mark of a well-stocked kitchen.
How Do I Freeze Carrots?
Some people worry that freezing vegetables removes their nutritional benefits, which could not be farther from the truth, as long as you prepare them correctly. Simply throwing carrots into the freezer means that the enzymes will still remain active in the vegetables, which will break down their texture and health benefits.
The best way to get around this hurdle is by the process known as blanching. Blanching vegetables means cooking them very briefly in boiling water, enough to halt the enzyme process, but not so much that they cook thoroughly through. It is important to note that there will always be some nutrient loss in water soluble minerals and vitamins, but as long as you adhere to correct blanching times, this loss should be minimal. Additionally, if you utilize the water from the blanching process for other foods like soup, you can retain some of those otherwise lost nutrients.
While there are some differences in the blanching and storage method based on how you have cut and prepared your carrots the basic steps are the same:
Fill a pot with boiling water. Place a bowl of ice water next to it.
Place your carrots into the boiling water for between 2-5 minutes depending on how they are prepared.
Transfer them to the bowl of ice water after the allotted time.
Remove the carrots from the ice water, then dry thoroughly and package them in freezer bags before putting them into the freezer.
Due to the fact that carrots have almost unlimited ways of being prepared for different meals, we will be highlighting the various ways that you can prepare carrots and how the blanching process differs from one style to the other.
Can I Freeze Fresh Peeled Carrots?
Yes, you absolutely can freeze freshly peeled carrots. Peeled carrots are excellent in salads, stir-frys, and other meals. They thaw quickly, so it can be a quick method to have additional ingredients ready when you need them.
Here is a step by step guide to the process of freezing freshly peeled carrots:
Place a pot of boiling water on the stove, with a bowl of ice-cold water next to it.
Place a handful of your peeled carrots into the boiling water, and submerge them with a slotted spoon for about 3-4 minutes, ensuring that they get fully covered by the water.
Use your spoon to scoop the peeled carrots out of the water and drop them into the ice-cold water until they are thoroughly cooled.
Once they have thoroughly cooled, pat the carrots gently dry with paper towels. Pack the peeled carrots into freezer bags. Lastly, remove all of the air from the bags, and place them into the freezer.
Can I Freeze Whole Fresh Carrots?
Freezing whole fresh carrots is a tricky consideration depending on the size of the carrots involved. If, for example, you have carrots of a larger variety, it can be challenging to blanch them properly due to their thickness. If you have smaller carrots or baby carrots, it's OK to blanch and freeze them whole but you should absolutely cut larger carrots into more manageable pieces.
Once you have washed and cut your whole carrots into smaller pieces, you can blanch them in your pot of boiling water for about 4-6 minutes, depending on their size. Then douse them in the ice-cold water immediately afterward, seal them in a freezer bag with the air removed, and they will be ready for the freezer.
Can I Freeze Raw Shredded Carrots?
Yes, you can freeze raw shredded carrots. Shredded carrots are one of the best ways to prepare carrots for many recipes, from smoothies to carrot cake or other baked goods. While it can be tempting to freeze them without blanching, the enzymes will remain active unless you blanch your carrots first.
Since shredded carrots are much smaller than other preparation styles, the blanching process is on a much tighter timeline. Only blanch your shredded carrots for approximately 2 minutes, and use a scoop or a strainer with a handle to remove the carrots to quench in the bowl of ice-cold water. Ensure that you store the shredded carrots in ¾ full freezer bags with any remaining air squeezed out so they keep well without ice forming.
Can I Freeze Chopped Carrots?
Chopped carrots are the middle ground in terms of ease of preparation. As far as blanching goes, they are relatively quick, requiring only about 3-4 minutes in the boiling water, and you can scoop them out of the pot to quench very easily with a spoon. So, yes, you can freeze chopped carrots.
As with all of the other preparation methods, ensure that you pack them tightly into freezer bags with all of the air removed to ensure that they maintain their color and texture inside the freezer. As long as you have prepared, blanched, and quenched your carrots appropriately, they should keep in the freezer for between 9 and 12 months.
Can You Freeze Cooked Carrots?
If you have already boiled, baked, or otherwise fully cooked your carrots, you may be wondering if you can freeze your vegetables in this form as well. Yes, you can quickly freeze your carrots in freezer bags when fully cooked; however, be aware that their texture will become even softer than before.
The best option for using frozen cooked carrots is in soups, smoothies, or other meals where a softer texture will not compromise your enjoyment of the meal.
What Is The Best Way To Freeze Carrots?
With all the above choices, it can seem a little overwhelming, and you may be wondering which method (peeled carrots, whole carrots, cut carrots) will yield the best results when the carrots are frozen. Ultimately, you need to freeze carrots in the form that works best with your planned meals. Keep in mind that your carrots' texture will suffer slightly due to freezing because carrots have very high water content.
The best way around this is to take advantage of the change in texture by mashing your thawed carrots or using them in smoothies or soups. Frozen blanched vegetables maintain most of their nutritional benefits. As long as you can work around the softer texture appropriately, you will be able to enjoy these delicious vegetables for many months to come.
Additional Tips For Perfectly Frozen Carrots
Following the above steps will help you achieve the best results for the various ways you can prepare carrots. However, there are some additional tips and tricks that are worth mentioning for anyone aspiring to freeze carrots successfully:
Preparation is everything during this process. Before you do anything with the carrots themselves, ensure that you have your pots, pans, utensils, and anything else you need before you start. Blanching and freezing carrots are easy, but you want to avoid interruptions while you're doing so.
Don't add the ice to the bowl of water until you've got the carrots in the pot of boiling water. To ensure the best possible blanch, make sure the water is as cold as possible. Wait to add the ice until you're just about to submerge the blanched carrots.
Next to the bowl of ice water, you should include some sort of drying device. Whether you use a salad spinner, a colander, or a baking sheet lined with paper towels, just make sure you have something ready to dry your cooled carrots. Your carrots' texture will be maintained much better in the freezer if you can dry them as thoroughly as possible.
Though it might seem counterintuitive, the blanching process will go faster if you add small amounts of carrots to the boiling water at a time. If you put too many of your carrots into the water at once, it will add too much variability to your blanching time.
Label your freezer bags before you put the carrots into them. While this may seem obvious to some, it's much harder to write on a filled bag than an empty one, and proper labeling will ensure you use your carrots promptly
Try to use smaller freezer bags instead of fewer large ones. By dividing your carrots into smaller portions, you will be able to thaw your frozen carrots more quickly and ideally be able to use them all at one time, so you don't need to re-freeze or refrigerate any excess left at the end.
In terms of vegetables, carrots are one of the best ones to freeze for long-term storage. With their enormous variety of uses, nutritional benefits, and relatively low prices, carrots are perfect for buying in bulk and freezing.
Next time you see a sale at the store or the local farmer's market, don't be afraid to pick up a bushel of carrots since you are now equipped with all the information that you need to make great use of this perfect vegetable for many months at a time.