Grow and eat your own food
This section provides a list of tasty carrot recipes and links to recipes on other websites. It is aimed at helping you to find some new and exciting ways to eat your carrots, because when you have a glut of any fruit or vegetable it is easy to get bored with eating them presented the same way every day.
Carrots in our house are usually served steamed and the variety is down to whether I cut them into rounds or sticks. When I’m lucky there is the addition of Mashed Carrot and Swede, a personal favourite, which given my dislike of carrots is saying something! As carrots are such a regular addition to our dinner plates I have made it a personal challenge to find some tasty carrot dishes, I am happy to eat, from the many cook books we own, many of which are out of print. I hope you like them too.
Recipes eaten and enjoyed by us, our family and friends.
Carrot soup created on its own or as one of the classic combinations, with either corriander or orange. What more would you want on a cold day to keep you warm.
Carrot Bhajia is an adaptation of a vegetable bharjia recipe we have used for years. I no longer know where the original recipe came from but it forms a great base of spices which can be used with any vegetable for a quick and easy side dish.
Mashed carrots are not something I would rush to eat and mashed swede is also not high on my list of preferences either. But put the two together though and you have a delightful, flavoursome combination and I fail to understand why I like it so much, but I do. I hope you enjoy it too.
There are many carrot cake recipes. This version has been tried and loved by many carrot lovers and haters amongst our friends and family. This is a single layer tray bake version of a carrot cake which is just how I like it. I hope you enjoy it too.
This chutney was first made by John as an entry to the Wanborough Summer Show. Unfortunately it was robbed of its deserved first prize however it has become a firm family favourite ever since. It is a sweet, gingery chutney and goes really well with a strong cheddar and plain crackers, even I like it!
If you like these recipes, we have a whole section dedicated to sharing recipes with you. Our recipe of the week is linked to our Facebook page so Like Us to keep updated of anything new. If you have a carrot based recipe to share, send it in, we would love to hear from you.
Links to other Carrot recipes
We have researched carrot recipes for you and have them stored on our pinterest board "Recipes using carrots". If you want to find more recipes follow this link to Pinterest or check out the web sites listed below.
Eat and enjoy!
Here are some pictures I have taken through the growing season of carrots showing the stages your crop will go through from seed to grown roots. These pictures show you the first shoots, leaves at 3 - 4 weeks, the fully developed plants with the carrots just showing and a pulled crop - all wonderfully different shapes and sizes.Plus there are some tasty pics of the tasty food we have created using some of the carrots we have grown.
I have a love hate relationship with carrots. For me personally that fresh sweet carroty flavour most people love, I find unpalatable. When I eat them, I prefer them raw to cooked and cannot face a whole cooked carrot or bowl of carrot soup, it is just too much carrot. I need them chopped into small rounds or sliced into thin sticks, preferably stewed till they are soft and all the flavour has been cooked out of them. As a child the only way my mum could get any of us to eat them was mashed in with potatoes. My husband and son however love them and would eat them every meal, so I bravely eat them too and as such they are a staple for us.
We could never grow enough carrots to keep us going all year round, we would need a field just for carrots. However we do grow a few rows, I don’t eat the “lovely tender, sweet, juicy, freshly lifted new carrots” but the boys do and they love them.
Carrots were brought over to England by the Dutch way back in the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1 and, other than my brothers and I, the English have had a love affair with them ever since. Originally purple they were bred to be the orange colour we all know them by today for William of Orange. You can find the original purple and yellow varieties in some supermarkets but you are more likely to find them in season at a good Farmers Market. You can buy seed should you want to try them for yourself.
It was not until we tried growing them ourselves I found that carrots aren’t all the long straight roots we see in the shops. They come in short, round or stubby varieties too. They still taste carroty and I am assured by my carrot loving boys that they really taste delicious. All carrot varieties are a challenge to grow, unless you are my Father in law, who has great success year on year, but if you love them I am assured the effort is worth it and I have to say it is fun to find an 8 legged carrot in the patch.
Timings for the best crop;
- Start your seeds off between February and July.
- For an early crop grow the seeds indoors in paper pots.
- Your crop should be ready to start harvesting between May and December.
- It is possible to have fresh dug carrots for Christmas day, bear in mind the ground may be hard so check out how to store fresh carrots as an alternative.
Remember that carrots store well. If you grow enough, it is easily possible to live off them all through the winter and on till the new seasons crop comes in. If they start to get really old and unpalletable then you can always feed them to your chickens - they love raw carrots, or put them in the compost bin.
Time to enjoy carrots!
I know from experience that carrots do not transplant at all. You need to sew them where they grow and factor in to loose a portion of your crop when you thin them out, unless they are big enough to add to a salad when you do the thinning. In an effort to grow carrots earlier we learnt a little trick which subsequently led us to growing a better crop, paper pots and toilet roll middles. It is easy to sew a few seeds onto the top of a deep paper pot filled with compost. The benefits include;
- You can get your crop off early in a green house or cold frame,
- the carrot root gets a good stone free length before it hits solid soil
- as the pot is biodegradable it can be planted with the seedling so you don’t disturb the root when moving and planting it.
- Thinning out the crop to one carrot per pot can happen away from the bed and help reduce Carrot Root Fly issues.
If you use a paper potter make sure you open a hole in the base of the pot when you transplant so that the root can extend and mature once planted. Check regularly for signs that the root has grown to the bottom of the pot as it will need planting out at this stage. For a really long pot try using a rolling pin as a guide.
Short carrot varieties are best for growing early, main crop later. As the sewing season is quite long, from March to August, if you have the space you can sew several crops throughout the warmer months, planting as space becomes available where other crops have been cleared.
Like most plants carrots like specific soil conditions to do really well. If you can’t manage perfection, like me, don’t despair as you can still be successful. Carrots prefer a slightly sandy stone free soil. They do not like well prepared manured and composted beds, it is best to dig over to loosen the soil especially if you have heavy clay. Stones make the roots fork, so as you loosen the soil it is a good time to remove any you come across.
If sewing in situ mark out a shallow valley approx 5 cm deep, sew a thin row of seeds along the valley bottom, water in and lightly cover, the rows should be approx 10cm apart. Make sure you write up some plant markers or labels as until the first leaves start to show you might forget what is in the row. You should start to see your young shoots after 3 weeks.
As the leaves get taller and your crop starts to thicken you need to decide whether to thin out the crop or not. Carrot root fly is the biggest issue with this vegetable and they can smell the carrots from a long way away. Thinning out your crop generates lots of that carroty smell. Thinning encourages bigger carrots and space to hoe weeds, plus any thinnings, I am told, taste great eaten raw with a salad. Not thinning encourages a closely packed row of smaller carrots, as they have less space to expand, and the weeds you’ll need to remove by hand. We tend leave our carrots alone and while we do get a little fly damage I cut it away when I prepare my veg. The waste is fine to go in the compost bin.
Growing hints and tips
- To avoid getting green tops, which are edible but unsightly, it is best to earth up your crop if the tops start to show. The sunlight exposure causes the greening so keep your carrots covered and they will be orange from top to bottom, or purple or yellow which ever colour you choose to grow.
- Apparently carrot root fly dont fly above 45cm from ground level. You can try to divert them by erecting a 50 cm barrier around you carrots.
- Marigolds and parsley make good companion plants for carrots as the smell they generate disguises the smell of the carrots and confuses Carrot Root Fly.
- As you harvest try picking alternate carrots along the row. This is a form of thinning out and allows plenty of space for the remaining carrots to expand.
One of the delights of harvesting a root crop is you will have no idea how successful you have been until you actually lift them. Just like tearing paper from Christmas parcels you may be delighted, surprised, amused or disappointed. The longer you leave the crop the bigger they should be. If you like those tender, sweet, juicy young carrots then you can start to lift after 6 – 8 weeks of growing time. If, like me, you prefer them with a less strong taste then give them another month. When ready your carrots should just pull from the ground but they may need a little fork action first to loosen the soil around them being careful not to stick the fork into your carrots. Grab the fern like leaves near the base and gently lift.
Harvesting hints and tips
- If your carrots prove to be difficult use a hand fork to gently loosen the ground near them and tug again.
- If you have a large crop and want to lift them all in one session then use a garden fork but be carful not to damage them with the prongs.
- Brush off any loose soil and break off the leaves approx 3-5 cm from the top of your carrot.
- The leaves make good compost.
- Carrots will happily stay in the ground until you need them and this is the best way to store them in the short term. I am assured by my carrot loving family and friends that the freshly picked are the best to eat, so if you can pick them as you need them, all the better!
- Remember undamaged carrots, as you would expect, will keep better than damaged ones. So when you lift them use the damaged ones up first.
- Carrots that are not straight taste as good as the straight ones and store just as well so don't throw away the wonky ones.
- Check for signs of Carrot Root fly, you will see little holes in the roots. These carrots should be used not stored.
Storing fresh carrots short term - if you lift more carrots than you need for one meal, fresh carrots keep better in a refrigerator than in a vegetable basket, where they will quickly go soft if you are not careful. They will keep for a couple of weeks or so in the refrigerator quite happily. You should always remove the leaves as they will draw nutrients from the carrots and the root will go softer quicker. Store them lose in the drawer and not in a plastic bag.
Storing fresh carrots long term - main crop carrots should be used for long term storage rather than early varieties, and will store for up to 6 months if handled with care. Only use carrots in top condition as any damage will cause the carrot to rot and risk the rest of your crop. Remove the leaves to 3-5cm and lay the carrots in sand in a sturdy box, build up in layers with sand covering the top. Do not let the roots touch. Place the box in a dry, cool, dark place such as a garage or cold cupboard. Check regularly for signs of rotten carrots and remove them to protect the rest.
Frozen - carrots will freeze successfully for 3 – 6 months. Slice them into rounds, blanch them in boiling water for 2 – 3 mins then dunk them in ice cold water. Pack portions in freezer bags, make sure you label and date the bags.
Pickled/bottled - carrots make a great addition to pickles and chutneys, have a go.
Canned - perfectly possible and available in any supermarket, I'll leave it to the experts though
Dried - perfectly possible, if dried they are usually found in freeze dried ready meals that need water adding, again I'll leave that to the experts