Carrot Storage: Washed Beats Unwashed


I’ve had cats. One of the carrots looks like a carrot, and the other like something scooped from a litter box. In the weird little world I live in, this is important research. All of the root cellaring books – including the most widely respected ones – advise not washing root veg before storage. A major no-no. So I intended on not washing my root veg. Cause I’m a good listener. But knowing that root cellaring books are written in climates warmer than ours, with humidity generally higher than ours, and knowing that local experience was likely valuable, I looked to my dad’s techniques when putting up veg this fall. He washes his root veg. At first, I thought ‘oh, if you only knew what all those books said’, but then considered his successful results – often storing carrots well into spring.

So this past fall, I put up many bins of washed, and a test bin of unwashed carrots. The one that looks like cat poop is the unwashed carrot. The other – washed. Crazy. Unbelievable difference in result. The washed carrots did not desiccate and/or rot like the unwashed ones did. The washed ones are far better quality too – crisper, fresher, tastier. In fairness, I chose one of the worst unwashed specimens from the unwashed bin for the photo – some of them were in usable form. But quality wise, no contest.

11 Responses

  1. I was always taught not to wash. This changed my attitude.

  2. Maki says:

    Yikes! You are SO right. CAT POOP. who would have thunk it? I’m shocked too. I’m sure folks will be asking for washed carrots at your house when you serve them. haha.

  3. Mel says:

    Invaluable lesson, thank you SO much.
    I have three cats; I deal with enough desiccated litter box nuggets, thank you very much. I don’t need my carrots ending up the same way.

  4. Sarah – Interesting, no? I still think there’s likely a very good argument to no-wash, but this trial certainly provides food for thought…
    Maki – yeah…..esp cause the stuff’s stored in sand. I so HATE dealing with litter boxes.
    Mel – glad you appreciate my geekness.

  5. Karlynn says:

    Books, schmoooks, usually the ‘rents are right, or those elders with many a year of gardening experience. Part of the joy (and pain) of gardening in this climate is having to almost always figure it out on your own. I’ve killed many a plant that just wont overwinter here, though they “should” in theory, and have had some come back that shouldn’t.

  6. Jessica says:

    Do you store them in sand after you washed them? I vaguely remember doing this growing up. I want to store some next year and would love some advice.

  7. Kevin says:

    Yep – playsand [got mine at home depot], in plastic bins or buckets.

  8. Judy Z. says:

    The difference is quite staggering. Now if only I had a root cellar.

  9. Kirsten says:

    What an amazing difference! Just goes to show what using common sense can do. I grew up on the east coast with parents trying a self-sufficiency lifestyle and they never washed their root vegetables before storing them but the air is damper there (and so was their cellar). Different climates=different techniques.

  10. Kevin says:

    Judy – some good news is that we put 3 5-gal pails worth of carrots in our fridge this past fall, and they stored fine in there. We ate them long before they went bad.
    Kirsten – I’m thinking that’s part of it, and I love anything that involves an equation, so thanks for that last line.

  11. [...] says he’s had his dip to -7 without major damage. A last biggy would be my experience with washed carrots trumping unwashed. I’ll be washing my carrots this fall, no [...]

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