Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Ugly Carrots

I posted recently about some of our efforts to continue to eat locally over the winter.  We bought shares in a local organic winter CSA in the fall, and I made one last stop at a farmstand, and brought home:
  • eight pounds of beets
  • two or three pounds of turnips, leeks, and rutabagas
  • sixty pounds of potatoes 
  • twenty pounds of onions
  • fifteen or so pounds of butternut squash, and
  • thirty pounds of carrots.

We had to work hard and think fast to store all that food.  Peter built us a keeping bin for the potatoes, and we found a cool place for the onions.  But the carrots were a puzzler.

We eventually opted to store them in a box in the garage, laid between layers of damp sawdust

Here they are, about six weeks later.  Hideous, aren't they?

The blackening is not dirt.  The discoloration seems to be of the carrot itself.  And yet, they are still firm and crisp, and there is no sign of mildew in the sawdust itself.  And, in fact, when peeled, these ugly carrots clean up real nice:

We've been eating them for weeks now.  They seem absolutely fine--as tasty as any carrots I've ever eaten.

Who knows if this storage strategy will get us through the really cold weather still to come?  But for the moment, we're finding ways to eat locally, at least in terms of eggs, cheese, milk, and veggies.

Even in the dark of the year.

How 'bout them ugly carrots?


  1. Prolly the sawdust.
    Got sand?

  2. Hey, Nate. It doesn't bother me.

    I am considering whether I can wall off an alcove/crawl space off of our basement which has a sand floor, and create an improved root cellar for next year.

    I would have to do something to keep it insulated from the heat from our furnace, in the main part of the basement, and I would want to measure the temperature to see how warm and cold it runs.

    I am actually more concerned about the effects of a hard freeze (not uncommon here in New England) on the carrots than I am the discoloration. And the slight degree of biological activity from damp sawdust may discourage that.

    Maybe. I'll keep readers posted! It's all a learning curve.

  3. If the carrots work for you, great. (I just personally happen to hate the taste of carrots, but someone needs to eat them.) Here, I am storing sweet potatoes, onions, shallots, garlic, Gold potatoes, and large winter squash. Some things will go before the others, and I'm planning my meals accordingly.

    Next year, assuming I am retired, having a good hoop house for my winter veggies will be critical.

  4. Holy crap that's a lot of produce. I'd try using sand as Nate suggested, if only because wet sawdust in my mind is a great home for fungus, and if you're not sure of the source of the dust, you can't be sure that none of it is from pressure-treated wood, which would quite happily leach the same poisons that prevent rot into your delicious food.

  5. The sawdust is from a local logging company--local softwood trees, no pressure treating involved. And sand, too, can have issues with contamination. So for the moment, we're going to stick with the sawdust.

    I'm happy to note, though, that there's at least one winter farmer's market that's reopening in my area! So what I am not able to store, I can perhaps buy locally anyway. w00t!