I love winter carrots, to be able to wonder out into the garden and pull up these wonderful sweet bundles of nutrition throughout the colder months is both a privilege and a pleasure.
Here in the Southern Highlands we have been getting frosts for over a month now so our carrots are lovely and sweet. Frost and cold weather cause carrots to become sweeter, it is a physiological response to the cold to prevent ice crystals forming and rupturing the cell walls.
Watch this short video that explains it http://thekidshouldseethis.com/post/why-do-carrots-taste-sweeter-in-the-winter
So as a result of living in a cool climate we get to harvest, and more importantly eat, wonderfully sweet winter carrots.
Now to have winter carrots big enough to harvest I need to get my plants in and germinated long before the cool weather sets in and stops growth.
So,typically I put in half a packet of seed in January, to give me big meaty carrots for soups and stews during the winter, and another half a packet of seed at the end of March. Towards the end of March, the ground is still warm enough for carrots to germination but with the onset of cooler nights the plants do not grow all that big so we tend to end up with small baby carrots which I love to bake whole or steam.
I usually plant too many and often struggle to get them all harvested before the first few burst of spring warmth send them into reproductive mode and see them becoming woody and producing flower stems.
I generally don’t preserve carrots in any way, other than the odd carrot cake, but this is something I will need to work on in the future.
Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated.
But whilst the weather is still cold here I will continue to harvest and enjoy my winter carrots, and here are some of my favourite uses.
Carrot and ginger soup
Chicken vegetable soup
Slow cooked Lamb shanks
Baked whole with a roast
Glazed carrots -steamed and lightly covered with a nub of butter and ½ teaspoon of honey-for something very special.
And of cause Carrot cake and carrot muffins both sweet and savoury.
As always Happy Gardening