Thursday, September 8, 2011

Too Many Carrots - Second Edition

Tendersweet Carrots fresh from the garden.
       At the time of the first Carrot post, I'd frozen carrots and made carrot soup, also to freeze.  Since then, I've made a carrot pepper salsa that I like, even though I don't generally care for salsa, and a carrot cake jam that my husband says may replace my homemade strawberry jam as his favorite.  Recipes for both of these are in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, 400 delicious and creative recipes for today. 
       I'm still buried in carrots.  I had estimated that the twenty-five pounds I'd already processed  for the freezer was about a third of what I could expect to harvest.  Looks like I'll be digging up closer to a hundred.  I'm at forty-three pounds and counting.
       I'd planned on canning some of this bounty, but I discovered that none of the three varieties I planted (Tendersweet, Scarlet Nantes, Danvers Half Long) are recommended for canning.  I'm reluctant to put in all the work involved and risk inferior results.  I sort of compromised here:  I made carrot pickles.  Two batches.  I'm hoping that the pickling process will overpower whatever deficiencies these carrots might evidence in simple canning.  I'm banking that it's worth the risk, because the grandkids love carrots and are always asking for pickles.  The store-bought pickles I normally stock contain food coloring, which only the oldest grandchild tolerates.  With any luck, carrot pickles will substitute.
       An options I hadn't considered was juicing carrots.  I have an old model Vita Mix, which is supposed to juice, but upon checking the owner's manual, I found that I need a press to finish the process theVita Mix only starts.  I did grind some carrots in said machine, and hand pressed a cup of juice.  It was really tasty, like, well, carrots.  My husband checked juicer prices.  I simple don't believe we'd use one enough to justify the cost.  However, it turns out that my daughter (Adventures of a Thrifty Mama) has a brand new juicer that she's willing to "loan" to me. 
       There remain four problems with juicing.  A pound of carrots makes only 8 oz of juice.  The bulk goes to pulp.  If you don't use the pulp in baking, you've lost the fiber and a large portion of your product.  Carrot juice is best used fresh; it does not can or freeze well.  To have fresh juice, you must store the carrots.  I mentioned overwintering some last year packed in wet sand in the basement.  I have tried leaving the carrots where they grew and covering them with a heavy straw mulch.  They keep just fine this way--all winter long, because I never get around to getting out there in the snow and cold to uncover them and dig them out.  But these are options available for those who really want that juice during the cold winter months.  I'd rather have the hot soup I talked about in the August 31 post.
        I still have far more carrots than I can possibly use, even with sharing with family.  Anyone around here want to volunteer to take some off my hands and spare me from the spectre of carrot waste?

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