Fresh carrots are quite a treat throughout the growing season, but as the colder months approach, your vegetables need to be preserved if you want them to last through the rest of the year so you better start learning how to freeze carrots to get preserve them for later.
While canning carrots is a great option, it requires a pressure canner. Without one, canning is just not possible. Here’s where freezing comes in to save the day!
To freeze carrots, you can either blanch them before storing them to preserve their flavor, nutrients, and texture better or opt-out of blanching if you don’t have the time. Whichever you choose, you need to prepare the carrots, chop them into pieces, flash-freeze them, and transfer them to freezer-safe containers for long-term storage.
In this guide, we’re going to teach you all the tricks you need to know to freeze these delicious vegetables and cook them afterward. Let’s get started!
Ingredients and Supplies You’re Going to Need
Freezing carrots is one of the most convenient preserving methods because it doesn’t require any fancy equipment, you can do it with supplies you can easily find in your kitchen. This is what you’re going to need:
- 1 pound fresh carrots (for 4 servings)
- Sharp knife
- Cutting board
- Vegetable peeler (optional)
- Pot of water
- Bowl of ice water
- Slotted spoon
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- Zip-lock back or freezer-safe container
- Permanent marker
You always want to use good carrots that will hold their texture and flavor during the freezing process. So, choose fresh carrots that are young, tender, and have no blemishes or soft spots. If you can’t freeze freshly harvested carrots, refrigerate them until you can. Old carrots get tough and fibrous, and limp or dried-out carrots won’t do either.
Medium-length carrots generally work best. Smaller carrots (“baby” carrots) can be frozen, but they won’t retain their flavor during the freezing process.
If you’ve grown your own carrots in the backyard, here’s a good video on how you can harvest them:
The easiest way of preserving fresh carrots is by blanching them before freezing. Blanching is the process through which a vegetable is scalded in boiling water for a few minutes, then transferred to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. This helps reduce quality loss over time and preserve the flavor, color, and texture.
Remove the green stems of your carrots and wash the vegetables thoroughly with cool, running water. If there’s a lot of dirt stuck to them, run your fingers over those spots making circular motions to loosen it up, so the water can wash it away.
Use a sharp knife to chop off the top and the bottom of the carrots. If you wish to shave off the outer layer, you can use a vegetable peeler to do so. Carrots can be frozen with or without the skin, but since removing it can be difficult to do after thawing, we prefer saving time and peeling our carrots at the very beginning of the freezing process.
Slice the carrots others into 1/4-inch (6.35 mm) coins, cubes, or lengthwise strips.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Fill 2/3 of a large bowl with water and add at least a whole tray of ice of about 12 cubes.
Drop the carrots into the boiling water and cook them for 2 minutes. Don’t overcook them or they’ll turn rubbery.
Use a slotted spoon to quickly transfer them into the ice bath, and let them sit in the bowl for 2 minutes to stop the cooking process.
Drain the carrots in a colander, or sit them out to dry on several layers of clean paper towels.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and position the carrot coins in a single layer, making sure to leave enough space between them so they don’t touch each other. If they overlap at all, they’ll freeze as one big clump. This would make them harder to measure out and thaw later on.
If you don’t have enough room on the baking sheet for all the carrots, use multiple baking sheets, and if you don’t have enough room or in your freezer, do this step in batches.
Flash-freeze the coins for 1 to 2 hours, or until frozen solid. There are several benefits to flash-freezing, but some of the most important ones include preventing freezer burn and preserving the quality and standard of your food better.
Transfer the carrots to a zip-lock bag or freezer-safe container. If you’re using bags, remove as much air as possible from them. You can either use a straw tucked in the corner of the bag to suck it out, or submerge the bag in water up to the zip so that the pressure of the water pushes all the air out, and then close it.
Use a permanent marker to label and date the container so that in the future you can know how long your carrots have been in storage.
All that’s left now is placing the container back in the freezer!
How to Freeze Carrots without Blanching
Even though blanching is the recommended way of freezing carrots, it’s still possible to preserve them without doing it. Keep in mind, however, that the vegetable will pack less nutrients and vitamins, and its color will be duller. Moreover, if you choose not to blanch your carrots, you want to use them within 2 to 3 months of freezing them, as they don’t keep as well as when they’re blanched.
Remove the green stems of your carrots and rinse the vegetables thoroughly under cool, running water.
Chop off the ends of the carrots, then cut them into 1-inch pieces to allow them to freeze evenly. If you prefer peeled carrots, this is the time to grab a vegetable peeler and do it. Peeling carrots after they’ve been frozen can be quite tricky.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, so the carrots don’t stick to it. Spread the pieces in a single layer, making sure that they’re not touching each other to prevent them from freezing into a big carrot clump.
Place the baking sheet in the freezer and leave it there for 24 hours or until frozen solid.
Transfer the carrot pieces to a zip-lock bag, making sure to seal it properly and remove as much air as possible. You can use a straw to suck the air out of it. Label the bag and return it to the freezer.
Baby carrots can be frozen whole following any of the techniques we’ve mentioned before, but keep in mind that they don’t retain their flavor well after being frozen.
To freeze baby carrots, you have to wash them well, boil them for 5 minutes, and let them sit in the water bath for another 5 minutes. You can also opt out of blanching, but we don’t recommend doing that.
Lay the baby carrots out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and flash-freeze them for an hour or two, or until frozen solid. Once they’re ready, transfer them to a zip-lock bag or freezer-safe container.
How to Freeze Cooked Carrots
Carrots are so versatile that you can mash them, roast them, sauté them, and even make it into soups. If you have cooked carrots leftovers, you can certainly freeze them and keep them in your freezer for up to 3 months. However, the texture won’t be the same when you thaw them.
We prefer roasting fresh carrots and consuming what we make, but if you do want to freeze what you’ve cooked, we’re going to teach you how to do it.
Transfer your preparation to a zip-lock bag or freezer-safe container, making sure to leave a few inches (or centimeters) of headspace to make room for expansion in the freezer. The headspace is the space between the food and the top of the container.
Then, simply place the container in the freezer for future use.
One of the best aspects of freezing carrots is that there’s no need to defrost them before cooking. Most of the time, it’s even better to cook them from frozen.
Some options include throwing them straight into dishes like stews, or casseroles, or adding them into a pan of boiling water with pasta during the last few minutes of cooking for extra flavor.
Here are some other ideas on how to cook frozen carrots:
Pop from frozen directly into salted boiling water for about 5-8 minutes, remembering that the cooking time will be reduced because of the pre-freezing blanching process.
Place the frozen carrots on a baking tray, drizzle a little oil and seasoning over them, and roast them for about 10 to 15 minutes until cooked all the way through. The time might vary depending on the size of your carrots, so make sure to check on them often to prevent them from getting burnt.
Pan-frying carrots is one of our favorite ways of cooking carrots. Simply coat a pan with butter and drop some frozen carrots in it. Cook on low heat and stir until tender.
Frequently Asked Questions
When the carrots are properly frozen, and the bags sealed tightly, they should keep in the freezer for about 12 to 18 months. However, we recommend using them within 3 to 6 months for optimal flavor and nutrients.
While you can thaw frozen carrots and eat them in cold dishes, they will get soggy and lose their texture, so they won’t be anywhere as good as fresh ones. Our advice? Stick to hot dishes and toss the frozen carrot pieces in without thawing.
If you notice that your frozen carrots are rubbery, then you might have cooked them too long during the blanching process, not put them into the ice bath, or maybe the carrots were not fresh to start with.
It’s always best to use fresh carrots when you’re preserving them, and not wait until they start to go bad.
As you can probably see now, freezing carrots is incredibly easy! It won’t take long and will keep for months. Hopefully, you’ve found the technique that’s most convenient for you in this post and can start freezing your carrots straight away.
Make sure to follow our tips for the best and most delicious results! And don’t forget to check the section on how to cook frozen carrots if you need some ideas on what to do with them.