A native of Afghanistan, carrots are now grown extensively throughout the United States and are available year-round. A versatile vegetable, the shape of the carrot ranges from globular to elongated. While most often orange, carrots also come in a variety of colors from white to yellow to purple. Carrots are harvested in Ohio from July through September.
For information on carrot varieties in Ohio, contact your county educator in agriculture and natural resources at Ohio State University Extension, or a master gardener volunteer.
- The best carrots are well-formed, smooth, firm, and blemish-free.
- Smaller types are more tender than the large varieties, and a deep orange color indicates more vitamin A.
- Avoid carrots that are wilted, flabby, or cracked. Also avoid those with large green “sun-burned” areas at the top or root fibers that are wilted, flabby, or that show soft decay.
- Large amounts of leaf stems at the top of carrots often indicate undesirably large cores. However, the condition of the tops does not indicate the quality of the root.
Due to many variables such as moisture content, size, and variety, it is difficult to give specific recommendations. The following recommendations are approximations.
- 4 servings = 1–1¼ pounds
- 1 bushel of carrots (without tops) = 50 pounds
- 1 bushel of carrots = 16–20 quarts, canned
- 1 quart = 2½–3 pounds
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 2½ cups of a variety of vegetables each day as part of a healthy diet. Carrots help meet that requirement and provide many nutritional benefits:
- Carrots have antioxidants that help prevent cancer and fight heart disease.
- A 1 cup serving of cooked carrots provides more than 30% of the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin A for adults.
- Carrots provide a variety of other nutrients including fiber.
- One cup of cooked carrots has only 45 calories.
- Remove the green tops before storing because they increase the respiration rate and draw moisture from the carrots, causing shriveling.
- Place carrots in a plastic bag before storing in a refrigerator crisper at 32 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Carrots taste best when eaten within 2 weeks but the nutritional value will keep for several weeks.
- Prevent bitterness in carrots by storing them away from apples and other fruits that release volatile gases (ethylene) during ripening.
Carrots may be scraped, pared, or cooked with the skins on. The skins of cooked carrots can be slipped off when held under running water. Carrots can be boiled, steamed, roasted, or sautéed. Carrots can be used as garnishes or snacks, in salads, and even in desserts. Overcooking carrots results in a loss of nutrients and flavor.
- Wash carrots thoroughly in cold water to remove dirt. Do not use soap, dish detergent, or bleach because these liquids absorb into the vegetable. Scrub well with a brush if you want to eat the peel, which contains fiber and is nutrient-rich.
- When washing large amounts of carrots, lift them from the water to prevent redepositing of dirt and residues.
- Raw carrots cut into matchsticks are a popular and nutritious addition to a relish tray or salad.
- Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to 1 cup of raw carrots to enhance the flavor of less than garden-fresh carrots.
- Serve carrots buttered with salt and pepper or a try a flavored butter such as lemon or herbed.
- Pair carrots with parsnips, a similar-shaped, sweeter-tasting relative of the carrot.
- Sprinkle snipped parsley, mint, chives, or cut green onions over carrots.
- Season carrots with basil, chervil, ginger, rosemary, savory, or thyme.
- Carrots can be creamed or mashed.
- Try using a spiralizer to cut carrots into “noodles” (see recipe below_).
Carrot Noodles with Peanut Sauce
A nutrient-dense, gluten-free alternative to pasta noodles!
- 10–11 large carrots, washed and peeled 2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
- ⅓ cup peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 3 teaspoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger root
- red pepper flakes to taste
- 3–4 pressed garlic cloves
- 6 green onions, washed and chopped
- 1 cup cooked, chopped chicken
- Optional: chopped peanuts, bean sprouts, kale, cooked shrimp, or crab. Toss in just about anything—it’s a great way to use leftovers.
- Cut the carrots into “noodles” using a vegetable spiralizer, mandolin, or other kitchen tool.
- Mix peanut butter, one tablespoon of the sesame oil, vinegar, maple syrup, soy sauce, ginger, and pepper flakes (if you’re using them). If the sauce looks too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of water.
- In a hot skillet or wok, mix a tablespoon of sesame oil, garlic, green onions, chicken, and any other ingredients you want to add.
- Add the spiralized carrot noodles to the ingredients in the skillet or wok and cook until crisp-tender.
- Pour the peanut sauce over the noodles and stir until combined. Remove from heat and serve.
For information on preserving carrots, go to ohioline.osu.edu or contact your local Ohio State University Extension office for the following fact sheets:
- Canning Basics, HYG-5338
- Basics for Canning Vegetables, HYG-5344
- Freezing Vegetables, HYG-5333
- Drying Fruits and Vegetables, HYG-5347
Kelly, Tammy, and Jennifer Stroud. 2018. “Carrots, Not Just for the Bunnies.” Lenoir County Center, North Carolina State Extension. lenoir.ces.ncsu.edu/2018/04/carrots-not-just-for-the-bunnies.
National Center for Home Food Preservation. n.d. University of Georgia, College of Family and Consumer Sciences (website). Accessed June 28, 2021. nchfp.uga.edu.
University of Illinois Extension. n.d. “Carrot.” Watch Your Garden Grow. Accessed July 15, 2021. extension.illinois.edu/veggies/carrot.cfm
U.S. Department of Agriculture. n.d. “My Plate, U.S. Department of Agriculture.” Vegetables. Accessed July 15, 2021. choosemyplate.gov/vegetables.