Fall is peak carrot season — here's how to choose, store and cook them perfectly

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/ Source: TODAY
By Lauren Salkeld

Raw carrots make for quick and easy snacking, but this versatile root vegetable can also be roasted, braised, steamed or sauteed, as well as baked into muffins, quick breads and cakes. While they’re a year-round supermarket staple, carrots actually have a season, or two seasons to be precise. There’s a late spring crop as well as a fall crop and some of the fall harvest goes into cold storage for winter, which means you can enjoy carrots now and for months to come. Read on for tips on shopping for, storing and prepping carrots.

Judy Kim

How to shop for carrots

  • Orange is the most common color, but carrots come in a rainbow of hues. Check your farmers market for purple, white, yellow and red carrots and pick ones with deep, rich color.
  • Look for plump, firm carrots without any soft spots. The skin should be smooth and free of cracks or splitting.
  • If you see carrots sold in bunches, with their leafy tops still attached, make sure the greens are bright and not at all wilted. Carrot tops are a little bitter but can be used in pesto, soups and salads.

How to store carrots

  • Store carrots in an unsealed plastic bag in the refrigerator. They’re hardy and should keep for a couple weeks.
  • Carrots lose moisture through their leafy tops, so cut those off before storing. Wrap the greens in a damp paper towel and use them within a day or two; they’re delicate and wilt quickly.

How to prepare carrots

  • Most people peel carrots, but a good scrub will also suffice, especially if you’re working with baby carrots. Older carrots tend to have bitter skin and should be peeled.

More great carrot recipes

Carrot Meringue Pie

Granola Caramel Carrot Cake

Ginger-Carrot Dressing (Japanese-style)

Carrot Cutlet

Creamy Roasted Carrot and Red Pepper Soup

Lauren Salkeld is a New York-based writer, editor and recipe developer. She's the cookbook columnist for Tasting Table and has written for Food & Wine, Rodale's Organic Life, Epicurious and Gourmet.