Blanched carrots are carrots that have been quickly heated to very high temperatures and then cooled just as quickly to preserve the color and flavor. This process is usually done prior to freezing. It kills any bacteria present in the carrots that could cause them to degrade, even in freezing temperatures. Many homeowners with gardens preserve carrots and other vegetables this way for use during the winter months.
Home cooks may blanch whole carrots, but cutting them into small pieces often makes them easier to heat through quickly. Frozen carrots are also very hard to cut. Those intending to freeze blanched carrots should cut them up during preparation for convenience. For example, it is much easier to toss a few frozen carrot pieces into a stew than it is to thaw whole carrots.
Several methods exist for making blanched carrots. The first, and most common, is boiling. A large pot of unsalted water is brought to a rolling boil, to which sliced carrots are added. One may use an egg timer or stopwatch to limit the blanching process to about two minutes. The carrots must then be scooped directly into an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
Steam-blanching provides a second way to make blanched carrots. Cooks seeking to keep nutrients in the carrots may prefer steaming because it does not leach as many water-soluble vitamins from blanched carrots as boiling does. A steaming basket usually prevents the sliced carrots from being submerged in the water. Five minutes should be plenty to heat the carrots through in this way. An ice bath then shocks the carrots to stop the cooking process, just as in the boiling method.
Freezing after blanching is relatively simple. The carrots must be dried with thick paper towels or a clean cloth towel and then placed in a freezer-safe container. Plastic freezer bags or vacuum-sealed bags often prevent freezer burn better than rigid plastic containers because there is less airspace in the bags. Drying the carrots before freezing also prevents freezer burn.
Freshly blanched carrots need not be frozen right away. These carrots make a bright, crisp addition to vegetable medleys and quick pot roasts. To use immediately, one must only skip the ice bath and scoop the blanched carrots into the desired dish. Carrot-lovers may also simply dress blanched carrots with a little butter and salt for the perfect addition to a meal. Other complementary spices can include black pepper, garlic powder, cumin, dried parsley, chili powder, and onion powder.