Carrots … roots of the meal

 Carrot’s really aren’t sexy. They aren’t amazing, they won’t wow you and you likely don’t wake up at night thinking about all you can do with a carrot. They are more in the category of old jeans and well worn sneakers. Always there and dependable but often not thought of.

 We love carrots in our home though! They are such a staple of a frugal diet. Carrots are awesome snacks fresh, pureed, sautéed, stewed, however you want them. I prefer my carrots fresh but as a single mom, there is more nights then I care to think about that I walk in the door at 6pm and realize I forgot to take out dinner, or get veggies for the side dish, or it’s late and I can’t imagine cooking at this moment. Times like that I lean towards our canned foods. I have found that I prefer to can my vegetables separately and then create meals later. Most of the canning recipe’s that are tested and approved aren’t as delicious as my own recipes, so I create them separately and mix at the last moment.

Enter carrots. A quart of carrots quickly gets sautéed with a pat of butter and brown sugar for glazed carrots, or sautéed in butter with some green onions and a dollop of sour cream for creamed carrots. I can half carrots and half potatoes together, toss in olive oil and do a quick bake or broil for “roasted” veggies or chopped with a chicken breast for a pot pie.  The possibilities are endless. Having these stocked away on the shelf allows for a multitude of side dishes within moments.

First, I would really recommend using organic carrots. These will be cooked and soak up the water for months… carrots are usually on the “dirty dozen” list. You really don’t want your carrots in a chemical bath do you? I buy my bags of carrots from Azure Standard for canning. They are uniform, straight and most importantly, they are organic and affordable! This 25 pound bag of carrots was 24.00. I ended up with 11 quarts carrots, 3 quarts carrots/potatoes and 7 pints pickled carrots. Also had a pound or two that became fresh eating.

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First, you want to peel all of those carrots! Wash them up, peel them, then wash them up again! At this time you can slice them, dice them, chunk them… endless choices. I do some of my carrots in larger chunks for stews and hearty meals and the rest I slice in smaller slices for sautéing. Make sure you save the end pieces you chop off. Toss them in a container in your freezer and use at a later time for broth! (Will add that post soon!)

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Next you want to jar these up. Use your funnel and let your kids jump in to help. This is one area they can really get involved with. Let them fill the jars, packed snugly and leave one inch headspace. If you are going to add salt, do this at this time (1/2 tsp for a pint, 1 tsp to quart). Fill with boiling water, use plastic spatula to jiggle all those carrots into place. You will be surprised how much they will shift once the water is in them!

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If you want, you could mix potatoes and carrots together. The difference with potatoes is you need to peel them, then pop in boiling water for ten minutes before you add to the carrots. you can do them separate as well. I like them together because that is the perfect amount for a  Chicken Pot Pie!

 

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Now that you have your vegetables in a jar, salt and boiling water added. Simply wipe your rim, cap and place into your pressure cooker. Important to note that carrots, potatoes or other vegetables MUST be canned in a pressure canner. There is absolutely no safe way to do these in a boiling water bath… “buy my gramma …” yes. I understand that grandmothers and amish do it and are fine. Very simple food safety here. Botulism thrives in anaerobic environments (like a sealed jar of food) and in low acid foods (like a vegetable or meat). You can’t sea it, smell it or taste it. It is sneaky that way. Maybe gramma canned for 80 years but never came in contact with a bot toxin. She was lucky and blessed but if you do the same thing and a bot toxin happens to be there… you are in serious trouble my friend. Be safe. Pressure canning is really quite easy. You can find videos all about it or go to my facebook page and group page and we will be happy to encourage you Preserving the Harvest Facebook We have a spectacular groups page and love to help new canners!

That being said… Now that your jars are ready, pop them in your pressure canner, follow your particular canners directions. Process your carrots for 25 minutes (pints) or 30 minutes (quarts).

IF you added potatoes, then process for 35 minutes (pints) or 40 minutes (quarts).

 

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At the end of the day, sit back, relax and enjoy your beautiful jars! Carrots may not be beautiful but they are functional and a wonderful staple to have in your pantry!

 

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