Carrots grow underground and spend their entire lives being cradled by the loving arms of Mother Earth. And then—BAM!—out of nowhere they’re ripped from their cozy soil homes. They’re naked, they’re afraid, and unless they quickly find themselves in another cooling embrace they’re going to die an undignified death. No carrot deserves to shrivel into a bendy, flaccid nub or to liquefy in a plastic bag that’s been shoved into your crisper drawer. Carrots should be made comfortable when they arrive in your home so that they may thrive for weeks, or even months, before you snip off their heads and eat them.
Just like on the farm, carrots prefer to be completely surrounded by something cool; they don’t like being exposed to air. You probably don’t have a bin full of topsoil in your kitchen to give your carrots an authentic, homestyle experience, but that’s not necessary as long as you have a large container, a refrigerator, and tap water.
First, if your carrots have greens attached, cut them off. They are of no use to you, and just like all leafy greens, they will quickly get slimy and gross in the fridge. If you’d like to save the greens, put them into a resealable plastic bag with a paper towel to absorb extra moisture and store them in the crisper drawer.
Next, put the carrots in a large container, cover them completely with water, pop on the lid, and keep them in the fridge. Change the water every three to four days or whenever it starts looking cloudy. If you don’t have a large container that will fit all your carrots, you can cut them into smaller pieces to make them fit. You don’t need to peel your carrots first, but if you’d like to, just to make your life easier down the line, you can. A cold water bath is the best way to store baby carrots, because since they have no peels they will quickly dry out once removed from their packaging. Stored in water like this, carrots can stay good in the fridge for four to six weeks.
If for some reason you find yourself with many, many, many carrots (looking at you, C.S.A. people), you’ve got two roads you can travel for long-term storage. Option one: get yourself a big ol’ container, put it in a cool place, and bury your carrots in soil or sand. It should go without saying that you should buy your soil or sand from a reputable hardware store and not dig up your own at a local park. If you don’t feel like building a sandbox for carrots, you can freeze them: peel and trim the carrots, then blanch in boiling water. If you’d like to cut your carrots into ready-to-cook pieces, blanch for about two minutes; if blanching whole carrots, five minutes. Once blanched, put the carrots directly into a bowl of ice water or, if you don’t have any ice, put them in a bowl in the sink under cold, constantly running water. Once they’re cool, drain them well, then place in freezer bags and remove as much air as possible. In the freezer, carrots will stay good for up to one year.