Last Updated: April 17, 2021
It’s a great deal of indulgence to know that you have piles of chopped up carrots sitting somewhere in the refrigerator for anytime use, but it’s a huge case of disappointment to discover that the carrots have gone completely limp when it’s finally time to toss them into a food salad for an extra touch of crunchiness.
There a few reasons why your carrots might adopt a rubber-like consistency after their chilling time in the freezer. But the most important reason is outlined below.
Frozen carrots turn rubbery mostly as a result of moisture evaporation through transpiration. What this means, is that carrots in the freezer release moisture into the air or into the seal that surrounds and protects them which results in the structural deflation of the cells that gives them their shape.
This disrupts the integrity of the carrot, and therefore has the consequence of imparting a funny texture to the vegetable which you might have perceive as rubbery. I personally think they texture like Dunlop.
Moisture loss in carrots, especially those preserved in the refrigerator or the freezer does not happen at an instant. Rather, it occurs over a wide range of time and especially at a slower pace in the freezer. If you are having rubbery carrot problem, it may be the case that you left your carrots to overstay in the freezer which should never have happened in the first place.
What are the possible causes of a rubbery carrot after freezing then thawing?
The primary cause of a rubbery carrot after freezing is moisture loss, or transpiration. This is when the carrot has lost too much moisture on the inside and basically has no structural integrity. In case you didn’t know, water makes up most of the chemical composition of a carrot, around 90 percent.
It is this water that fills up the fairly rigid cell walls of the carrot and gives it support and structure, and these two, as you might have correctly guessed, are directly related to the texture of a carrot.
Now, whenever this water content is lost, the fairly rigid cell walls sort of collapse and therefore lose their integrity. And this loss is translated into the final texture of the vegetable as “rubber-like” texture.
But, loss of water content is not always the only factor that contributes to the rubber texture of a thawed out frozen carrot. Here are some other factors:
1) Over blanching
You can have carrots texturing like rubber when you over blanch them rather than blanch for the recommended amount of time which is usually 2 minutes for average sized carrots. Over blanching does what we call cooking.
It destroys the cells in the carrot, every enzyme responsible for deterioration of the carrot or basically, anything and everything that would naturally make a young carrot turn old with time.
When you freeze such kind of carrot, you are definitely signing up for a funny tasting treat after thawing. Except when you use them in dishes that require cooking, in which case it would be impossible to pick up on the texture even though it was initially there for any taste bud to feel.
2) Excessive cell rupture due to slow freezing
Another thing that can cause carrots to take on a rubber texture is slow freezing. Veggies, which naturally have high water contents are always advised to be frozen as quickly as possible.
The fancy term for such process is flash freezing. But this, in its true sense and meaning, can never be achieved with the regular refrigerator at your disposal.
Regardless, a pre-chilled freezer compartment having no contents at all can nearly match the results of supermarket type flash freezers, provided they aren’t loaded with too much carrots than the number of stars in the universe.
Slow freezing is disliked because it cause large ice crystals to form in the cell walls which cause a great extent of cell rupture. This translate into the final texture of the carrot which is what you taste as rubber.
Fast freezing on the other hand, causes the formation of small ice crystals which lessens the extent of cell wall rupture and therefore does lesser damage to the final texture of the carrot.
Factors that can affect how fast you can actually freeze a carrot to minimize damage include temperature and overloading. Fluctuating temperature will cause the carrots to freeze slowly and unevenly, and so will overloading and overcrowding them in the freezer.
3) Using old carrots to begin with
Again this comes out as a further explanation of the moisture loss problem. You see, older carrots, having spent much time on the surface of the earth than their younger counterparts have undoubtedly had more breathing sessions then them.
Thus, they have transpired and lost more water. This means that if you started with an old carrot in the first place, then it’s no surprise you’ll end up with a rubber textured carrot even after only few weeks of storage.
Because they’ve already lost a lot of water to begin with, and they have naturally aged and lost some strength.
4) Poor storage practice
Poor storage practice is also another reason why a carrot can adopt a rubber-like consistency fast. Allowing the freezer temperature to keep fluctuating can cause the migration of water vapor from the carrot to the surface of the packaging which cause quick deterioration of the carrot.
Use of low quality packaging can also cause the migration of moisture or ice crystals from the surface area of the product which will cause the exposed tissue to adopt a brownish spot and become tough and dry. This is also referred to as freezer burn.
For packaging, a food foil, microtene bag, food box or plastic storage container meant for freezer use should be used. These perform well to seal the carrots and prevent freezer burn. Always remember to remove as much air as possible and seal tightly, the packaging will do the rest.
Are rubbery carrots safe to eat?
Despite their funny texture and consistency, rubbery carrots are totally safe to devour with the kids, just as soap tasting carrots or bitter tasting carrots are.
They pose no health risk to people although they might be lacking a bit in some nutrients, but such drawback is not a direct consequence of the rubber texture itself but rather, of the freezing process which it directly results from.
How do you know if frozen carrots have gone bad?
According to a publication by the United States department of Agriculture, vegetables kept in the freezer compartment will keep for an indefinite amount of time, but what’s not guaranteed is their quality.
It’s just the same scenario with every single thing on earth, it will eventually come to a perish. So carrots will keep in the freezer, theoretically, forever, but their loss in quality and taste will attain a peak that will render them inedible.
Just take a bite from the carrot when it’s thawed, and when it tastes like nothing you ever want to drop in your carrot soup, discard it promptly, you dog dislikes it too!
What is the best way to freeze carrots to avoid rubbery texture?
The best way to freeze carrots to avoid a rubbery texture is to first of all make sure to start with fresh, young and crisp carrots. That would ensure you’re retaining most of the quality after thawing. Secondly, blanch them for the exact amount of time to stop enzymatic activities responsible for deterioration.
If you dislike blanching, skip the step, and move on with washing the carrots and drying them completely in absorbent paper. Thirdly, seal in a food foil, microtene bag, food box or plastic storage container meant for freezer use. Remove as much air as possible and load the freezer only with about 2 to 3 pound of carrot to each cubic foot of freezer space per 24 hours.
Another alternative: Refrigerate!
Honestly, if you’re planning on using carrots within a weeks’ time or two, it’s best to refrigerate and not freeze since the latter has the potential of disrupting the cellular structure and causing a change in texture upon thawing.
Refrigerating a carrot is pretty simple. Wash the carrots to remove dirt, (remove any greens on them) and submerge fully in a water bath and store in the refrigerator. Remember to change the water as often as every 3 days or whenever it turns cloudy.
You could also pop them dry in the coldest but most humid part of the refrigerator and let sit for up to 3 weeks. But make sure to avoid bringing them close to other fruits especially apples and bananas.
As stated above, frozen carrots turn rubbery because of the moisture loss that occurs in them during storage. This loss in moisture destroys the integrity of the carrot which cause them to limp and texture like rubber.
Despite the unappealing texture and wilted appearance however, rubber carrots are perfectly safe to consume without any worry for health implications.
Rubbery carrots can be minimized by the use of fresh carrots during freezing and ensuring that carrots are blanched, dried properly (if washed), properly sealed with air tight containers and stored for no longer than a month or two.