Sunday, August 2

Canning Carrots

We love carrots in our house and eat them in many different ways.  There is nothing better than raw carrots dipped in Ranch dressing! I put carrots in just about all my homemade soups, chicken pot pie and we love them steamed or candied (brown sugar and butter).

I try to grow a crop of carrots every year, but some years I only get enough to eat fresh and not enough to can.  
This summer Ohio was reported to be the wettest in history, so I'm having a pretty poor crop harvest, and that goes for vegetables such as onions, garlic and green beans too, ugh. 

Carrots have become very popular as a quick snack for most kids (and adults too).  Parents love the petite size carrots because not only are kids eating their vegetables, they like them!

Recent rumors claim that baby carrots are not really carrots but some weird substance formed into small carrot shapes and dyed orange. 

Carrots pulled fresh from my garden

So What Are “Baby” (or Petite Cut) Carrots?
 A true baby carrot is a carrot grown to the "baby stage", which is harvested before the root reaches its mature size.
In the 1980's supermarkets expected carrots to be a particular size, shape, and color. Anything else had to be sold for juice or processing or animal feed, or just thrown away.

Today’s “Manufactured" baby carrots were invented in the late 1980's by Mike Yurosek, a California farmer, as a way of making use of carrots which are too twisted or knobby for sale as full-size carrots. 

Photo from Wikipedia 
Yurosek was unhappy at having to discard as much as 400 tons of carrots a day (yikes, what a waste!) because of their imperfections, and looked for a way to reclaim what would otherwise be a waste product. 

He was able to find an industrial green bean cutter, which cut his carrots into 5 cm lengths, and by placing these lengths into an industrial potato peeler, he created the baby carrot. Yea!
He made up a few test batches to show his buyers. One batch, cut into 1-inch bites and peeled round, he called "bunny balls." Another batch were peeled and cut 2 inches long, and looked like little baby carrots.
They transformed the whole industry.

These days, in order to create thinner vegetables, baby carrots are planted closer together than traditional carrots. In as little as 120 days from planting, the carrots are dug up and trucked to the processing house to be cut and peeled.
Most baby carrots sold in U.S. and U.K. supermarkets are really what the industry calls “baby cuts” – made from longer carrots that have been peeled and cut into a smaller size.

Baby carrots washed and ready for canning

Every once in a while organic carrots go on sale at our local grocery store. This week a 2 pound bag of petite cut carrots was $1.59.  It took about 4 ¼ pounds to make a canner full or 8 pints.

I prefer to use wide mouth canning jars.  Not only are they easier to fill, they closely match the size of a commercially canned product for recipes.

Wide mouth pint canning jars

Canning Carrots

What You’ll Need:
4 to 4 ½ lbs baby, petite cut or regular carrots
Kosher or canning salt, optional
7 to 8 wide mouth pint jars with lids and bands
Pressure Canner and canning tools
First layer of carrots in the bottom of the canning jar

How To Do It:
Prepare your pressure canner to manufacturer’s instructions.
Fill a saucepan ¾ full with water and heat, then allow to simmer until ready to use.  This will be the liquid you add to the jars after filling them with carrots.
Wash and sterilize jars, then heat jars in simmering water until ready for use. I just put the jars in the pressure canner to keep them hot.  But do not boil.
Wash lids and bands in warm soapy water and set aside. New lids no longer need to be hot or boiled. 

2nd layer of  carrots in a swirl pattern to keep them below the headspace

Small carrots placed in the center of the swirl pattern to fill space.

Wash carrots. If using whole carrots, peel and wash again. Cut carrots into slices or leave whole.
Pack carrots tightly into hot jars leaving 1 inch headspace.
When canning baby carrots, pack the first row of carrots into the jar standing up.  The top row of baby carrots should be tilted or placed in a slight swirl pattern so the carrots are below the needed headspace. 

Add 1/2 teaspoon salt to pints, (optional)

Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each pint jar, if desired.
Ladle hot water over carrots leaving 1 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band and adjust just until fit is fingertip tight.

Add boiling water, leaving 1 inch headspace

Process filled jars in a pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure 25 minutes for pints, adjusting for altitude. (Method and processing time taken from the newest addition of the Ball Blue Book)
Once done, remove jars from canner and allow to cool for 24 hours without disturbing. Check lids for seal, lids should not flex up and down when center is pressed.  If any jars did not seal, store in the refrigerator.
According to the newest addition of the Ball Blue Book, bands can be left on or removed for storage.
Wash exterior of the sealed jars and store in a cool dark location. 

I am in the middle of making sauerkraut with cabbage from my garden and making Peach Marmalade with peaches I picked up recently on a weekend trip to Virginia.
Tomatoes are finally coming in (all at once of course) so I’ll be canning those soon too, but I just can’t pass up a great deal on other organic vegetables.  Without calculating my time involved, I have about 40. cents in each jar of carrots I canned.  And it’s always great to open a jar of fruit or vegetables that I know exactly what’s in the jar!

Hope your summer has been an enjoyable one,

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Anonymous said...

I recommended this blog to my cousin. You're posts and directions are amazing! I'm one of those people who learn much quicker with photo steps! Thanks! Craver Hayes

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

I'm one of those people too, photo make things easier for me to follow. Glad my posts help, stop back anytime

Anonymous said...

Is it cost effective to can the baby carrots, or is it cheaper to can regular carrots? Thanks

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

It just depends on what on sale. Regular carrots are usually by far the cheaper of the two to can. But there was a great deal on baby carrots when I canned these and they work really well in soups and stews.