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poison free gardening, Victoria BC, storing carrots


Storing Carrots

carrots galore
Carrots are also biennials, growing in their first year, and flowering in their second year from the nutrients stored in their roots. Consequently, they also have a dormant period to take them through the winter, and it is this dormancy period which makes them excellent candidates for long-term storage.

Ground Storage

Carrots are most easily stored by leaving them in the ground - if the soil is well drained and doesn't get waterlogged, and if it does not freeze. Hereabouts, if grown in raised beds, and protected by a one foot thick mulch of leaves, they can stay in the ground all winter, to be harvested as needed.

Harvesting for other Storage

Mature carrots store best, and carrots are mature when an orange crown appears at soil level. Again, gentle handling while harvesting - so as not to cause any breaks, scrapes, cuts and bruises - dramatically lengthens the storage period. Leave the carrot tops on and lift the carrots out carefully with a garden fork. Rinse the carrots with cold water, and keep them as cool and moist as possible. Chucking them into a container of cold water until they can be put in storage containers helps greatly to keep them cold and moist.


Mature topped carrots can be stored for 7 to 9 months at 32 to 34F. with a very high relative humidity, 98 to 100 %. However, even under these optimum conditions 10 to 20% of the carrots may show some decay after 7 months. Under commonly found commercial conditions (32 to 40F.) with 90 to 95 % relative humidity, 5 to 6 months storage is a more realistic expectation. Prompt cooling to 40F or below after harvest is essential for extended storage. Poorly pre-cooled roots decay more rapidly.

For long term storage - and this is what we want for a steady and long lasting supply of our ever so healthy 72 trace element carrots - carrots need to be stored in a cold, well ventilated and high humidity environment. Mature carrots are well adapted for storage and are routinely stored by large scale growers in large quantities during the fall and winter for both the fresh market and processing.

Since carrots lose moisture and wilt readily, the humidity should be kept high. Carrots stored at 98 to 100 % relative humidity develop less decay, lose less moisture, and remain crisper than those stored at 90 to 95 % relative humidity. A temperature of 31 to 34F. is essential if decay and sprouting are to be minimized. With storage at 40 to 50F, considerable decay and sprouting develops within 1 to 3 months.

Carrots stored at or below 30F will freeze. Ice crystals will form, resulting in cracks and bristly appearance of the roots. Severe injury in carrots immediately after freezing results in lengthwise cracking and blistering caused by the formation of ice crystals immediately beneath the surface. After thawing, the skin turns dark and water-logged, turning the carrots soft and flabby.

For the home grower, carrots are best stored in waterproof containers either in damp sawdust or peat moss. Alternate layers of sawdust or peat moss and carrots are best. And keep the storage medium constantly moist. A layer of newspaper over the top of the container will retain much moisture and also allow some air circulation.

Bitterness in carrots, which may develop in storage, is due to abnormal metabolism caused by ethylene. This gas is given off by apples, pears, and certain other fruits and vegetables and from decaying tissues. Bitterness can be prevented by storing carrots away from such produce. Also, development of bitterness can largely be avoided by low-temperature storage, as it minimizes ethylene production. Some surface browning or oxidative discoloration often develops in stored carrots. The most immature carrots are the most susceptible to surface browning.


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