You know how healthy carrots are and you always keep them at home. It’s a root crop, basically, and you store it in your pantry along with your garlic and onions, even with some potatoes and some other root crops you found in the market this week.
It’s almost the end of the week, and it is time to use those carrots, but wait, isn’t that rotting at the end of your carrot? Is this a familiar scenario? You and me both. It’s a root crop, so why do carrots need to be refrigerated?
Understanding the nature of carrots
What most people are not aware of is that the initial five months of storage – in optimal conditions, of course – actually optimizes and increases the Vitamin A contained in carrots. As long you ensure that your carrots are well protected from both heat and light, then your carrots will not only be able to sustain its nutritious elements but also increase them over the next several months.
Carrots have non-digestible fibers made up of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin which are one of the healthiest fibers you can add to your diet, but also serves as protection for all those nutrients while your carrot is kept in storage.
Keep in mind that the thicker the carrot you have in storage, the better they are for storing all those nutrients. If you are planning to keep carrots for a long time and would like to keep them as healthy as possible, get the ones that have very thick cores. Not only will they be great for cooking, but think of just how storing them can lead to culturing its nutrients to abundance overtime.
What is Ethylene?
Ethylene is a critical plant hormone which assumes a very noteworthy part in the post-harvest life of newly harvested produce. It can be both positive and negative in this respect but as long as care and moderation measures are implemented, ethylene are manageable enough.
Unlike most produce, carrots do not usually need an addition of artificial ethylene post-harvest. Just to give you an idea, ethylene is used on reasonable and moderate amounts to help ripen produce, especially fruits, faster.
However, since most farms are handling multiple produce at any given time, it is hard to ensure that ethylene will not be rubbed off on carrots, especially during transportation wherein produce trucks can still hold hints of this chemical that are easily rubbed on carrots without really meaning to.
How does ethylene affect carrots?
Since carrots are rather sensitive crops, getting exposed to ethylene will lead it to acquire an isocoumarin formation which will affect the carrots badly by leading it to develop a bitter flavor. Obviously, since carrots are not intended to be bitter, this will have a very detrimental effect to the crop. This is one of the main reasons why carrots should not be mixed with other produces like apples.
This also goes for refrigerating your store-bought carrots in the vegetable compartment. Unless you are able to ensure that all your veggies and fruits do not contain or produce ethylene, it is best to pack them separately from one another.
The Harvesting of carrots
Ideally speaking, the decision-making process for harvesting carrots are built on several important factors which places not only the market capacity, but also sales profitability into huge consideration. Carrot producers need to make sure that their produce will hit the market at optimum time to reduce any losses on their end.
Carrots are ideally harvested prior to reaching its mature state, and just before the roots could develop enough to form a new uniform taper, otherwise it will not be fit for harvest and will continue to grow into a new plant.
Depending on the variety, the length of the carrot produce may also be used as a basis to gauge its maturity. Cutting and peeling the carrots also give the farmers a good idea of knowing the processing efficiency of the produces and will plan on harvesting once they have reached desired results.
The way your carrots are handled prior to you even purchasing them can gravely affect the shelf life of your carrots, even if you keep them refrigerated. Here are a few things you should look out for to know your carrots have been roughly handled.
- Bruising – if you notice any discoloration and tender spots in your carrots.
- Shatter Cracks – these are actual cracks in the body of your carrot. Can be a fine line or a real gap which you definitely do not want in your carrot. Unless you are planning to cook the same day.
- Tip Breakage – check the tip of your carrot and see if it is still intact. The tips is ideally smooth, so if you notice some roughness that is not like the rest of the carrot, you’ll know the tip has broken off.
Qualities of a good carrot
You have no hope of keeping carrots in great shape, if they were not even in great shape when you got them right? It wouldn’t make sense if that were possible. Here are the things you should look for next time you buy carrots.
- Firm without any signs of flaccidity or limpness. If they are either flaccid or limp, then you can certainly guarantee that they are not fresh and will definitely not keep for very long.
- Proportional shape. Yup, your carrots also need to have good body proportions, otherwise you will notice some parts drying way faster than the rest of your carrots. The whole thing will end up in the bin, either way.
- Lively orange color. This an indicator that your carrot has great taste and contains a lot of nutrients. The better the color, the better the quality. Look out for any hint of greenness along the shoulders as it is an indicator that your carrot was exposed too much sunlight while it was still being grown. This will not only affect the taste, but also the nutrients.
Knowing how to best store your carrots
- When you buy carrots, make sure they have never been refrigerated. Once your carrots had been refrigerated, they will not last even half as long as they could have without keeping in the fridge. Of course, keeping them in the fridge will keep them for a while, but you can kiss any hope of storing your carrots in the pantry goodbye.
- Carrots are not good at adapting to temperature change, not to mention all those moisture that will be generated from temperature which expedites spoilage far better than any other decomposing agent. Also, you don’t really know how long a refrigerated carrot has been in storage, so try to get the freshest ones you can find that has not been refrigerated yet. This way, you are guaranteed fresher and higher quality carrots.
- Remove the leaves. The leaves, if left intact will continue to derive moisture from your carrots which is in fact, its root. Unless you remove the leaves, your carrots will wilt before you know it.
- Do not wipe or wash your carrots before storage. Contrary to what some people believe, rubbing and washing your carrots prior to storing will damage its outer skin which basically serves as protection for its flesh. Leave a little bit of dirt on it and it will even last longer as compared to the cleaned ones.
Store them in your pantry
Ok so you have tried this before but it didn’t really work out. The good thing about storing them in your pantry rather than your fridge is in making sure that ethylene from your other produce in the fridge will not be rubbing of them.
I like to use produce mesh to keep my carrots safely away from my other pantry veggies. Not only do I find it more organized, but I also found that keeping my carrots well-ventilated sustains them for much longer.
Refrigerate your carrots
The best way to make sure your carrots last long will be by keeping them in the fridge. But since I always have other veggies in the fridge drawer, I keep them organized by using produce containers which I have found to keep not only my carrots, but also other vegetables and root crops fresh.
They are also especially effective with keeping leafy vegetables so you might want to give it a try. Check your produce container every now and then to make sure moisture is not forming at the bottom of the inside tray, if there is moisture, simply pour it out and place the container with your carrots back in the fridge.
Whether you decide to store your carrots in the fridge or in your pantry, keep in mind that higher quality carrots will definitely last longer and better than sub-par ones. Just keep them away from moisture and from other moisturizing veggies and they will keep for a very long time.
Let me know what you think and leave me your comments in the comment section below. Share with your friends if you have found this article useful.