How to get the most from carrots
By Marion Owen, Fearless Weeder
for PlanTea, Inc. and
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Carrots are the world's favorite vegetable. No kidding. Carrots boast more carotene than any fruit or vegetable, and they're recipe-friendly -- adapting to a wide assortment of foods and recipes (as you'll see below). In the garden, carrots are an all-around favorite, along with tomatoes, corn, and lettuce.
But what do you do with a bumper crop of carrots? Give them away to your neighbors when they're not looking? Dry them and hang them on your Christmas tree? As with a zucchini, too many carrots can be a challenge. Here are eight ways to make the best out of a bounty of carrots:
Let's start with how to 'put carrots by'...
How to harvest and store carrots
In the refrigerator, carrots will keep for several months. Just wash, pat them dry and store them in containers or bags with some holes added. For long-term storage, hand-pull the carrots from the soil, but don't wash them. Twist or cut off the green tops. Layer undamaged roots with sand, dry soil, or a 50:50 combination of sand and (low sap) wood shavings -- like the kind used in hamster cages. Make sure the carrots aren't touching each other and keep them in a cool, dark place.
Invest in your health:
Dried carrots keep well and reconstitute nicely for use in breads, salads, and soups. To dry raw carrots: Slice washed, tender carrots 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick or coarsely shred or grate them. Toss with some lemon juice. Arrange on dryer racks and dry until crisp.
To dry cooked carrots (which keep their color better): Select crisp, tender carrots. Trim the green tops, leaving a 1/2-inch tip. Steam until cooked through,but not mushy -- about 20 minutes, depending on size. Trim off the tails, the crowns, and the green tops. Slice 1/8-inch thick or shred. Dry until crisp. Cool and store.
Frozen carrots are one of my favorite ways to store them. Slice fresh and washed carrots into 1/4 to 1/2-inch slices. Steam them until they are still a little solid when poked with a fork. Not quite tender. Then plunge them into cold water. Store them in quart-size, zip-lock, freezer bags, squeezing out as much air as possible. Or vacuum seal them.
Bring out a bag of carrots on a cold, blustery day and steam them up. Serve as a side dish, in rice or mash and add them to a cake recipe, muffins, pancakes, etc. Their sweet flavor and bright color will cheer up your world.
Go ahead, juice 'em
The foundation for juiced recipes, carrot juice mixes well with many fruits and can be added to soups, salad dressings, and muffins.
Create a designer necklace from carrot beads. It's fun!
Nordstroms and Saks Fifth Avenue may never carry these 14-karat beauties, but here's your chance to make a vegetable fashion statement. Wash a few carrots and cut them into 1/4-inch round slices. Thread a heavy duty needle with dental floss and slip the slices onto the floss by pushing the needle through the core. Once you've strung enough carrots, tie the ends together to form a necklace. Lay it on paper in a dark, well-ventilated place, making sure the slices don't touch each other. As they dry, they turn into wrinkled beads. Drying takes a couple weeks.
Go beyond carrot cake with these recipes
I heard that Will Rogers once said, "Some guy invented
Vitamin A out of a carrot. I'll bet he can't invent a good meal out of
one." If Will had only sampled some of the following recipes! Since carrots
pack such a healthy dose of goodness and fuse with so many different recipes,
their highest calling might be as nutritional undercover agents. What
a great -- and sneaky -- way to get more healthy food into your diet. If YOU have a favorite (and unusual) carrot recipe, please let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This marmalade is adapted from an Alaskan homestead recipe.
Carrot Orange Hummus
Hummus is the Swiss Army Knife of spreads and dips. Smear it on toast and bagels in place of butter, put a dollop on steamed vegetables or potatoes, or spread it on broiled salmon. To jazz up salads, add a couple tablespoons to your favorite oil and vinegar-based dressing.
Carrot Spice PancakesThese pancakes are smaller versions of a carrot cake dessert, only you get to eat them for breakfast! To two cups of your favorite pancake batter, fold in the following ingredients:
3/4 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom (good, but optional)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon.
1/2 tsp. ground ginger or 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
Cook batter on a hot skillet and serve with yogurt, maple syrup or your favorite fresh fruit, jam or jelly.
Carrot MilkshakeBelieve it or not, this one tasty treat!
3 to 4 carrots
1/4 cup brown sugar or 1/8 cup honey
Assorted spices, as for pumpkin pie
Pinch of salt
1 cup vanilla or plain yogurt
1 cup milk or soy milk
Wash unpeeled carrots thoroughly. Cut into 1-inch chunks, place in a saucepan and steam until soft. Mash with a potato masher or puree in a blender or food processer. Add all ingredients to a blender or processer and blend well. Chill before serving.
The Best Pickled CarrotsThese pickles provide a unique way to serve carrots, especially if you have a bountiful harvest. Try them as an appetizer, salad garnish, with rice or as a side dish with soups, stews or hearty sandwiches.
2 lbs. carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
3/4 cup vinegar
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. mixed whole pickling spices
Bring vinegar, water, sugar and spices to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes. In a separate pan, cook carrots in boiling salted water for 10 minutes. Drain the carrots and pack them in hot, sterilized pint jars, leaving 1/2-inch of headroom. Cover with the hot pickling liquid, seal and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. If you don't want to process them, pour in the hot pickling liquid and let the jars cool to room temperature. Keep them in the refrigerator. Makes 4 pints.
Now, whenever you grow too many carrots, or get the urge to buy 30 pounds of them when they go on sale, you'll know just what to do with your bounty!
Thanks for visiting and please stop by again. I'll put the coffee on!
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