Canning carrots at home is an easy way to preserve carrots and prepare them for quick weeknight meals at the same time.
My kids are total carrot fiends, known to demolish several pounds of raw carrots in a sitting (no dip required). At dinner time, they’d happily fill their bowls with nothing but cooked carrot slices (and often enough they do).
But children are fickle creatures, and while this week they may eat 10 pounds of carrots without blinking an eye, next week they’ll forget to eat all together as they spend long days playing in the summer sandbox or winter snow.
It can be really hard to plan ahead, especially when carrots are bulky and take up a lot of space in the fridge.
Canning carrots at home ensures that I always have enough carrots in the pantry to satisfy my tiny carrot eating gnomes, even at a moment’s notice.
Home-canned carrots heat up for a quick side dish, and they also work wonderfully added to soups and stews. I love using them in a quick weeknight beef stew (along with my home-canned potatoes). A whole quart pureed up is perfect for carrot ginger soup too.
Preparing Carrots for Canning
The first step to canning carrots is peeling and slicing. This is technically optional, and you can just stuff whole carrots into mason jars peels and all. (Provided they fit).
To be honest, I hate peeling carrots, and I often skip it when I’m just cooking them up fresh.
For canning though, I’d highly recommend going through the extra effort of peeling your carrots. The peels can turn a bit stringy in the canner, and they have a strong earthy flavor (even when well washed) that will infuse into the whole jar while it sits on the pantry shelf.
If you truly can’t stomach the thought of spending all that time peeling carrots, you can buy pre-peeled sacks of baby carrots and just pour those into the canning jars. I often see that variation in canning groups, when people find cases of baby carrots on super discount and can them up in marathon batches. They’re already pretty small, so you don’t even have to slice them if you don’t want to.
In my case though, more often than not we’re canning carrots from my garden or from the farmer’s market, so peel I must…
Raw Pack v. Hot Pack
The main question when canning carrots is raw pack or hot pack.
Raw pack means you just place the raw carrots into the canning jars. Cover with boiling water and then load them into your pressure canner. It’s much simpler to be sure, as it’s much simpler to pack cool carrot slices than it is boiling hot ones.
Hot pack often results in higher quality canned goods because it helps remove some of the natural air pockets in the produce before canning. When canning peaches, for example, hot pack is an absolute necessity. Raw pack peaches are an absolute mess.
The conventional wisdom isn’t always correct however, and sometimes it really doesn’t matter whether you do hot pack or raw pack. When I’m canning pineapple, I’ve yet to notice a difference between raw and hot packed fruit, even though all the guides say raw pack has horrible quality. Both are equally spectacular in my opinion.
I’ve found that the quality of home-canned carrots is about the same whether they’re raw packed or hot packed, so you’re welcome to take your pick.
One point of caution, however. If you’re raw packing vegetables for a pressure canner, the canner cannot be at a full rolling boil when you load the jars. Even though you’re pouring boiling water over the raw carrots, the cold veggies cool the water and the jars go into the canner barely warm. Put that into boiling water and you’ve got a recipe for thermal shock (and broken jars).
Be sure that the canner is just warmed up, but nowhere near boiling when you add the carrots. “Simmering” is around 180 degrees F at sea level and “wicked hot” or hot enough to burn the skin is around 140 degrees F. I’d suggest somewhere in that range so that your carrot jars are at nearly the same hot but not boiling temperature as the canning water.
I learned this one the hard way…
Pounds of Carrots per Canner Batch
The number of fresh carrots needed for a canner batch varies slightly based on the size of the carrots, how much you trim off the ends, and how small you chop (or don’t chop) them before loading them into the jars.
As a general guideline, it takes 16 to 18 pounds of carrots for a canner batch of 7 quarts, or 10-12 pounds for a canner batch of 9 pints. My 30 quart All American Canner can accommodate 14 quarts and that’s my usual batch size. A batch that size requires 30-35 pounds of carrots roughly.
Canning Carrots (with or without Salt)
Adding salt when canning carrots is completely optional, and I generally can carrots without anything added. Just raw pack carrots, top with boiling water, and load them into a warm (but not boiling) pressure canner.
If you do choose to add salt to your home canned carrots, most people recommend adding 1 teaspoon of salt per quart (or 1/2 tsp per pint). That’s completely optional, and up to your own personal taste.
Feel free to omit the salt entirely, as I do, or reduce it to 1/2 or 1/4 tsp per jar for just a hint of salt without a “salty” flavor.
Keep in mind, if you do choose to add salt, it should be canning salt or sea salt rather than table salt. Table salt has anti-caking agents added, and sometimes even includes sugar/dextrose, or all manner of other additives. All that other “stuff” will cloud the jars and is generally not recommended for canning.
How to Can Carrots
I normally begin pressure canning tutorials with the line “Prepare a pressure canner by filling it with a few inches of water and get it warming,” but when you’re canning carrots you’ll likely need to start prepping the carrots long before it’s time to warm the canner.
Peeling and slicing carrots is by far the most time-consuming part of the operation, and I don’t bother whipping out the pressure canner until I’ve worked my way through all the carrots I intend to can.
If you happen to be canning pre-peeled baby carrots, they’re ready to go, but for the rest of us, the first step is peeling and chopping all your carrots. Once they’re prepped, start warming the pressure canner.
Bring a second pot of water to a boil as well. This will be used as a canning liquid.
For hot pack, blanch the carrots in the boiling water for 5 minutes before packing into jars leaving 1-inch headspace. Top with the boiling cooking water, add salt (optional), and seal jars with 2 part canning lids before loading them into the pressure canner. For this method, the water in the canner can be at a simmer or hotter (at full boil) when loading.
For raw pack, pack the prepared carrots into jars, again leaving 1-inch headspace. Top with boiling water, add salt (if using), seal with 2 part canning lids, and load the jars into your pressure canner. For this method, be sure the water in the canner is at or below a simmer to avoid thermal shock.
Place the lid on the pressure canner, but not the canning weight. Turn the heat up to high and wait for the canner to begin venting steam. Once you see a steady stream of steam coming out the vent, set the timer for 10 minutes. Allow the steam to vent for a full 10 minutes before adding the canning weight and bringing the vessel up to pressure.
(This steam venting step is important with pressure canning, as it ensures that the whole canning chamber is full of steam. Without this step, there may be cooler pockets within the canner that don’t quite come to pressure, and can result in under processed canned goods.)
After the steam venting step, add the canning weight and bring the canner up to pressure. Process the jars at pressure for 25 minutes (for pints) or 30 minutes (for quarts).
The canning pressure will vary based on your altitude and whether you’re using a weighted gauge or dial gauge pressure canner. Refer to the table below for the correct pressure for canning carrots in a pressure canner.
Once the processing time is complete, turn off the heat and allow the canner to cool to room temperature before opening. Check the jar seals and store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator for immediate use.
Properly pressure canned carrots in fully sealed jars should maintain their quality in the pantry for 12-18 months. (Be sure to refrigerate after opening.)
Pressure canning carrots is an easy way to preserve carrots for long term storage, and in the process, you're also preparing them for quick weeknight meals.
- 16 to 18 lbs Carrots (see note)
- Salt (optional)
- Prepare the carrots by peeling and chopping. Peeling is optional but highly recommended because it dramatically improves the quality of home-canned carrots. The size of the sliced/diced carrots is flexible, so choose a size that will work in future meals for your family.
- Prepare a pressure canner by warming 2-3 inches of water in the bottom of the canner, with the bottom trivet in place.
- Bring a pot of water to boil on the stove next to the canner.
- For Hot Pack, blanch the carrots in the boiling water for 5 minutes before packing them hot into canning jars (1-inch headspace). For raw pack, just pack the carrots into the jars without blanching, still with a 1in headspace. Be sure the pressure canner is warm, but below a simmer if using a raw pack to avoid thermal shock. For hot pack, use a simmering to fully boiling canner.
- Regardless of the packing method, pour boiling water over the top of the carrots in the jars, maintaining 1-inch headspace. Add salt if using, at a suggested rate of 1 tsp per quart (or 1/2 tsp per pint).
- Seal the jars with 2 part canning lids and load them into the pressure canner.
- Place the lid on the canner, bring the canner to a full boil and allow steam to vent for 10 minutes before adding the canning weight and allowing the canner to come up to pressure.
- Process the jars for 25 minutes (pints) or 30 minutes (quarts). Use 10 pounds of pressure below 1000 feet, but adjust for altitude at higher elevations. (See table within the article for higher elevation canning pressures.)
- After processing is complete, allow the canner to cool to room temperature before opening and unloading the jars.
- Check seals, and store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator for immediate consumption.
- Properly processed, sealed jars should maintain quality in the pantry for 12-18 months.
As always, be sure to follow the manufacturers instructions for operating your particular pressure canner. Instructions vary slightly between models, and when in doubt, follow the recommendations from the manufacturer.
Carrots per Canner Batch
The number of fresh carrots needed for a canner batch varies slightly based on the size of the carrots, how much you trim off the ends, and how small you chop (or don't chop) them before loading them into the jars.
As a general guideline, it takes 16 to 18 pounds of carrots for a canner batch of 7 quarts, or 10-12 pounds for a canner batch of 9 pints. My 30 quart All American Canner can accommodate 14 quarts and that's my usual batch size. A batch that size requires 30-35 pounds of carrots roughly.
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