Not only is the mighty carrot delicious in sweet, savory and spicy recipes, but it’s also chock full of nutrients (vitamin A included). The only problem is that it’s weirdly difficult to keep your fridge stocked with this versatile root vegetable. Case in point: You bought a big bunch at the store last week but only used a couple for your beef bourguignon. Then when you went to grab two more carrots to toss in with your roast chicken yesterday, they were sad, limp little puppies. It’s called the carrot catch 22 (or now it is) and we have the fix. Learn how to freeze carrots and you will be stocked with this fresh ingredient for the next 12 months.
1. Prep your carrots
Before washing the carrots, cut off the tops to remove the green stems. Next, thoroughly wash the vegetables in cold water. Use a clean scrub brush to remove stubborn soil if any remains after several rinses. Once washed, place carrots on a cutting board and chop them into similar sized pieces. (Half-inch rounds work well, but you can cut the carrots in whichever way you prefer to see them on a plate.) Just be careful not to dice the carrots or cut them too small since you don’t want them to cook during the blanching process.
2. Set up the blanching station
Blanching—the process of briefly immersing food in boiling water—is an indispensable prelude to freezing vegetables. That’s because as veggies age, not only do they start to look worse for wear but they also lose flavor, texture and nutrients. Blanching and then freezing your produce will stop this process. First, fill a large stockpot with water; it should be filled at least halfway, but let the quantity of carrots can be your guide—shoot for a ratio of four cups of water to every cup of carrots. Set the pot on the stove and bring the water to a boil over high heat. While you wait, prepare an ice bath by emptying several ice cube trays into a large bowl and filling it with cold water. Position the ice bath near the stove so that after scalding your carrots, they can start cooling stat. (Note: It’s a good idea to reserve some ice so you can lower the temperature once the hot, blanched carrots have melted the bath.)
3. Blanch the carrots
Once the water has reached a rapid boil, carefully add the cut carrots. A mesh strainer or slotted spoon will help lower the vegetables into the pot without any hot splashes. Start watching the clock from the moment your carrots meet the water. Chopped carrots should stay put for only two to three minutes, depending on the size of the pieces; whole baby carrots need to scald for five minutes.
4. Cool the carrots
When the carrots have boiled according to the above cooking times, scoop them or strain them out of the boiling water and place them directly into the ice bath. The goal is to rapidly cool the carrots so they don’t continue cooking—feel the ice bath after the carrots are added and if it’s no longer frigid, add more ice. After chilling for two minutes, the carrots should no longer be warm to the touch and can be strained.
5. Freeze the carrots
Now that you’ve blanched your vegetables, they’re ready to be frozen. Freezer bags are the preferred storage solution because it’s easier to squeeze excess air out of ‘em, plus they save space. (Because bulky carrot-filled containers mean less room for Ben & Jerry’s.) Portion out your blanched carrots into plastic bags and remove as much air as possible before sealing the bags shut, marking them with the date and popping them in the freezer. Now you’re done—and those blanched, frozen beauties will be fresh for a full year.