This year I grew four kinds of carrots. Two carrots to eat fresh, Yaya and Mokum. And two carrots for winter storage, SugarSnax and Bolero. I had previously harvested all the Yaya and Mokums. This last week I got around to the storage carrots. When you store carrots there is always the argument over whether they store better washed or not. Some studies say washing leads to rot. Some say there wasn't much of a difference. If you don't wash them you can get staining on the carrots. For home use this isn't much of a problem as you can handle that a carrot isn't perfectly pretty before it is peeled. But I can see that the commercial sellers what pretty carrots. And yet still I decided to wash my carrots. I hate bringing so much dirt into the kitchen.
The yield was good. I picked 35 pounds of storage carrots. This is in a 32 sqft space. And they were only in the ground for part of the year. The favas were in the spot in the spring. So they were very productive. 58% of those were Bolero. But the SugarSnax were given six rows and the Bolero were only given 5. If you take that into account, Bolero produced 66% more than SugarSnax did. It wins the production contest hands down. The SugarSnax didn't have the time or the sunshine to really bulk up. But the Bolero did.
As for storage, I decided to split those storage carrots. Part got blanched and frozen. I froze 20 cups of carrots. Part got put in the crisper drawer of the fridge. And part got put in the basement. The basement isn't really cold enough for storage yet. I have them in the doorwell of the basement right now. The bulkhead door will keep the really cold air out, but it will get colder than the basement indoors. It won't be long before my basement is cold. I hope the carrots hold out long enough. I just don't have the room to keep them in the fridge though. As it is they are taking up a lot of space.
So which ones did I like the best? Well I did a side by side taste test of three of them. The Yayas were gone a while ago so i couldn't do that, but I remember the Mokum and Yaya side by side test. So here goes.
This is the first year I grew Yayas and it will be the last. I grew it because others I know have grown and liked it. It grew well. It made a good spring or fall carrot. But I found the taste bland. It didn't have the wonderful carroty taste. Though I don't have a side by side yield comparison of my fresh eating carrots, it grew well and certainly produced well enough. And it was a pretty enough carrot. 6" long and tapered. But when growing something at home, taste is everything. And a want a really powerful carrot flavor. So this will not be grown again.
Mokum is an 8" blunt carrot that I've grown for years. It is probably the sweetest of all the carrots I grew. It had a nice carrot flavor and didn't get bitter as a spring carrot. So can be grown both in the spring and in the fall. It is one of my favorite carrots. Like Yaya it produces well, though I have no numbers to back that up. You can bet that I'll grow this one again.
I've grown this one for years too. It has the typical grocery store carrot profile. Long and tapered. I've had them get to 14" but usually they run about 10"-11" for me. They do not do well in the spring as they get bitter. They are strictly a fall carrot here. They are quite sweet. Not as sweet as a Mokum, but still quite nice if you like sweet. They have a resiny carrot taste to them. It is full of flavor, but I find the taste better cooked than raw. To me the Mokum makes a better raw carrot. But the SugarSnax's flavors hold up to cooking better, probably because they are bolder. It has been an OK producer here. The problem is that it doesn't like the partial shade it ends up in as the fall progresses. When I've grown it in the sunny spot in the garden (the circle garden) they grew enormous. But even with the early planting, in the main garden, they struggle to get big enough.
This is the first year I grew Bolero. Again others that I know have grown it and liked it. In addition in some Massachusetts field trials, they were one of the longest lasting storage carrots. So they seemed like a good carrot to try. I would have liked a longer carrot for this as I have very deep and loose soil. But I wanted to see if I could find something better than SugarSnax which is what I'd used in the past. Bolero is a blunt 6"-8" carrot. I didn't find any that were longer and most were in the 6" range. But they got very wide and produced an amazing poundage. They aren't as sweet as SugarSnax, but they are still sweet enough to make a good raw carrot. And the taste is wonderful. Better than all the others. It has more of a depth of flavor than Mokum has, with none of the challenging piney taste of SugarSnax. Though I haven't cooked with them yet, I think they will make just as good of a cooked carrot as they do a raw carrot. I will probably grow this one as my only storage carrot next year (unless I decided to trial another variety). The short wide carrots are easy to process in the kitchen. And they handle my partial fall shade as well as the Mokums do.
Basically if I grew one carrot I'd grow Bolero. Mokum still wins out in a fast spring carrot though. Bolero is a 75 day carrot and Mokum is 55. And in the spring I need a carrot to produce fast because the bed needs to be turned over to the fall crops in July. The same over the summer. I want a carrot that can start producing when my spring carrots get used up. So sometimes the faster the better. Another difference they have is that Mokum is more orange than Bolero is. They are both orange carrots, but it probably means that Mokum has more of that lovely beta carotene.
And I told you that I harvested 35 pounds of carrots from that one storage carrot bed. Over the year I've harvested 78 pounds. That is a record for me. But to be fair I had more beds in carrots than ever before too. I do love my carrots.