The wonder, deliciousness of homegrown carrots

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Carrots are a fun and easy vegetable to grow. Give them the proper growing area and you would be amazed at what they will do.

I have found carrots in a raised bed will get much bigger and straighter than in the ground. The loose soil in the raised bed provides a perfect place for them to grow. And if you’re like me, it’s exciting seeing how big each carrot is as you pull it.

When planting, I like to just throw some seeds out there and cover them with dirt. Carrot seeds are so tiny, I find that method easier than trying to plant one at a time. The benefit of this is lots of little carrots while you wait for your bigger ones. As they start to grow, you will have to thin them to give others enough room. While this may sound like a chore, it can be very rewarding. Those little carrots, once washed and trimmed, make a delicious snack. As the carrots grow, continue to thin as needed – and don’t forget to keep the ones you pull.

Carrots store for a very long time in the refrigerator. Once you have pulled them, cut the tops off, then wash them so there is no dirt left on them. Then trim off the top and bottom of each carrot. You can keep them in your vegetable drawer, but I have found they keep a lot longer in a vegetable bowl – one of the bowls with a lid, vented bottom and separate water reservoir. Carrots I’ve pulled late in the summer have kept until the following spring this way.

Another option for preserving is to slice the carrots, blanch them for a couple of minutes, dip them in ice water, then vacuum seal them and freeze them. One note of warning, the frozen carrots will be one big clump so measure out amounts you might use in a casserole or stew and freeze them separately.

The fresh ones I like to grate and toss in my salad or simply eat plain or with some dip. The frozen ones can be used in recipes or steamed, along with some green beans, for a side to go with supper. However you prefer them, it will be easy to keep garden-fresh carrots around for most of the year.

For one way to use the carrots, check out the recipe here, a favorite from my childhood.

Until next time, happy garden-fresh eating!

Julie Clements is a Butler County Master Gardener.

Share your ideas for garden-fresh recipes or ways to preserve at julieclements75@gmail.com and some will be featured in upcoming columns.

Carrot and Pineapple Jello

1 large box orange Jello mix
Water
Several carrots (to taste)
1 can crushed pineapple

Prepare the Jello according to the directions on the box, then pour into a dish. Refrigerate just until it starts to get firm, then mix in shredded carrots and pineapple. Mix completely, cover and refrigerate another couple of hours or until the Jello is set up.

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