4 Reasons & Fixes If Carrots Taste Bitter

Carrots Taste Bitter
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Carrots Taste Bitter

We all buy carrots for their fresh, sweet flavor and it’s an absolute frustration to bite on a carrot and taste bitter or woody notes. If you have purchased carrots and they have turned out to be bitter, keep reading.

We’ll tell you the reasons behind this and give you a few ways to fix the problem.

Carrots Taste Bitter

Carrots are highly likely to taste bitter when they have a higher concentration of terpenoids . These are the chemical compounds that develop in the earlier stages of the root’s growth.

The sugars develop in the later stages before harvest. If the carrots were harvested in the earlier stages, this could be the reason behind the bitter flavor.

We do want to add that there are some carrot varieties with naturally higher terpenoid levels as compared to others.

Most carrots have a combination of sugars and terpenoids but when the balance goes out of proportion, the roots develop a bitter flavor.

You’ll want to opt for the sweet carrot varieties because they naturally have minimal bitter tones. In the section below, we’ll share how you can make the flavor less bitter!

1. Harvested too soon

Freshly harvested carrots
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The first reason for bitter carrots is that they’ve been harvested too early. If you are growing your own carrots in your home garden, always wait for the correct time to harvest.

It can be tempting to harvest your carrots while they’re still small and young but doing so will result in a weird flavor, mainly because the terpenoid level will be higher.

Carrots generally develop their sweeter flavor in the cooler months, which means you need to wait for the colder season to harvest the carrots.

If you’re buying ready-grown and harvested ones, look for carrots that are a good size and a dark orange color as opposed to small, pale ones.

2. Eating them raw

 Asian couple eye contact grates the carrot into strips
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A second reason for noticing a bitter flavor in carrots is that we eat them raw. Of course, naturally sweet ones are delicious raw in salads and snacks but if they are slightly bitter, it’s best to cook them.

Perhaps you have already harvested the carrots and have found that they don’t taste sweet or maybe you bought them from the farmers market or grocery store. In this case, you’re better off cooking them than consuming them raw.

Cooking will tone down the bitter flavors by breaking down the terpenoids and enable you to add other ingredients to sweeten them. You can add a teaspoonful of sugar to the cooking water.

Also, once the carrots are cooked, saute them in a little butter and sugar or honey. This will create a lovely sweet glaze and vastly improve the flavor.

If you must use them raw such as in a grated carrot salad, add sweetness to the dressing to disguise the bitterness.

3. Incorrect storage

freezer bags vs storage bags
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A third reason for carrots becoming bitter is incorrect storage. Never store carrots together with apples, pears, or bananas as the release of ethylene gas from these fruits will result in the carrots developing a bitter taste and cause them to rot.

To keep them fresh for many months without refrigeration, pack them into crates with sawdust or damp sand and store them in a dark cellar.

For normal home storage in the fridge, always cut the leafy tops off as these draw moisture away from the main root.

You can keep them in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer, but for maximum crispness and sweetness, store them upright in a jar full of water in the fridge.

4. Temperatures too hot while growing

Carrot vegetable grows in the garden
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Another reason for carrots being bitter lies in the temperature at the time they were growing. Carrots need to be grown at specific temperatures to ensure the flavor is earthy, sweet, and fruity.

The optimal temperatures for growing root vegetables lie between 15 degrees Celsius to 18 degrees Celsius. If they experience hotter temperatures, they may become bitter.

If you plant your own vegetables, it is suggested to plant the carrots in spring. However, if your area has mild winters, you can plant them in the cooler months.

Of course, as a home cook who purchases vegetables from the market or store, there’s nothing you can do about growing temperatures.

This leaves you with the option of either sweetening the carrots as suggested previously or using them in stews and casseroles where the sweetness will not be missed and the rich gravy will mask any bitterness.

sauteed carrots
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Sauteing carrots slowly with the onions and oil at the start of a recipe helps to caramelize any sugars present and bring out a sweet flavor.

They can also be used in stir-fries where a sweet component like pineapple or a sweet-and-sour sauce is going to be added too.

We hope this has helped you to understand what makes carrots bitter and what you can do about it. Please share any further tips you may have in this regard in the comments section. Thank you for reading!

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