Looking to quickly add a crunchy topping to a green salad? Want to add some healthy texture to your stir fry dish? How about making a recipe that calls for shredded carrots? This is a pretty common task for any home chef, but it can be difficult and time consuming depending upon which tool or technique you use. A shred is basically a thin julienne strip, but depending upon what you will use them for, one method may be better than another. When adding carrots to a cake or bread recipe, thinner, more pulverized pieces will be better, but for other applications, a thicker, more crispy strip will be desirable. Carrots are a beneficial addition to any diet, but cutting them down to matchstick size with a knife is not for everyone, and quite frankly it may not fit the task. If you want to know the best way to turn your carrot to pieces, continue reading for some easy options, and the applications they might be good for.
Traditional Julienne Method For Carrots
If you want to go about it like a professional that gets paid for the time they use, or if you want to prove to yourself how difficult this technique is, then get out your knife and follow the steps below. This method will give the most control over thickness, so if you want fatter, more stick like pieces, this is probably the one you want to go with. Use this traditional technique for salads, garnishes, toppings or stir fry. In general, it will take the longest and require the most amount of skill to master.
- You always want to wash carrots before using them in order to remove any dirt, pesticides or germs that may be coating the surface. Give them a quick rinse under cold water and remove visible grime with the help of your hands. As an option, you could use a vegetable scrubber to speed up the process and improve the cleanliness.
- Once clean, you really want to remove the outer layer of skin with a good peeler. Take off all imperfections to leave yourself with a smooth chunk of orangy goodness.
- Use a sharp knife to chop off both ends making sure to get any foliage at the thick side, and eliminate any long pointy ends on the thin side.
- Place the carrot on your cutting board and carefully slice off one side to create a flat surface. Do not take off too much because this part will be waste.
- Rotate your carrot and repeat the above step until you have four flat sides, and a carrot that looks like a three dimensional block.
- Now begin slicing off planks. Whatever thickness you cut these will be the thickness of your strips. Basically you will be cutting lengthwise to slice off layers. Do this to the whole thing leaving yourself with several flat rectangles.
- Take each plank, one at a time, and slice into little sticks. Continue with all pieces until you have a pile of julienne pieces.
- Once finished, add to your dish or recipe.
Box Grater Method
This technique will be the least like a traditional julienne, and will produce short, thin shreds in most cases. You probably would not want to add these bits to an entire you are cooking, but for baked goods, it is preferred by many people. For any application where you want the nutrients and taste but not the texture, shred using a regular grater. This method is pretty quick and easy, but the cleanup can be kind of a pain, and you will always have wasted food because some will not get used, and much will be stuck to the grater. Some people will go this route for salads and salad toppings, but the more mushy shreds it produces prevents you from enjoying the crispy crunch that really makes the dish pop.
- When grating a carrot to use the shreds for baking, you will want to wash it and peel it just like above. These things grow under ground, so skipping this step may ruin the taste or have you spitting out chunks of dirt.
- After you have a clean carrot with no skin get out your grater. A box version works well, but many others would also work. Because the shreds will fall, place on a cutting board, plate or inside a bowl for collection purposes.
- Chopping off the pointy end may make it easier to work with, but this is not a necessary step. When faced with several surfaces, one with larger holes will usually work the best, but choose smaller holes if you want more pulverized results. In most cases you will end up with cheese size pieces, but as stated above these smaller shreds will be preferred for certain recipes or individual tastes.
- Hold the veggie in one hand, and hold the grater securely with your other hand. If you are right handed, hold the carrot in that hand, and steady the tool with your left. Simply press the carrot against the metal surface, apply pressure, and slide down to grate. You will want to hold it upright and shred down the length.
- These tools do not work in both directions so the downward motion is when the cutting will occur. Make sure to be careful of your fingers and knuckles so you don’t catch them on the sharp edges.
- It will be difficult to use the whole carrot, so toss away the last little piece once it is too small to work with.
- Repeat the steps with more carrots until you have enough for your recipe. Add to cake batter or muffin mix according to directions.
Some folks will advise you to use a regular peeler for this technique, but that’s a bit silly considering there are low cost ones made fro the job. A julienne peeler is the perfect tool to make smaller batches of shredded carrots. You can do several in just a few minutes, so larger amounts are not out of the question, but it is the perfect tool to whip out for shredding a single portion as well. Unlike a grater, this tool will shred longer, thicker, more stick like pieces from your carrot. You will not be able to achieve the same thickness that a knife would provide, but for salads, stir fry and garnishes, it will provide the perfect thickness. You end up with pieces that are the same thickness so cooking will be even, and when used raw, the crunch will be delightful.
This tool looks like a regular peeler until you check out the blade. It has sort of a double blade where one part has pointy teeth, and the other part is a straight edge. Both work together to dig out shreds from this hard vegetable. Some similar tools will be frustrating due to dull blades or less than perfect designs, but the one we carry has proven to be perfectly suited to the task, and incredibly easy to use. For any carrot salad, green salad topping, stir fry or garnish, this tool will produce properly sized pieces for a professional quality end result. For deserts and baked goods, the thickness might be a bit too much for most folks, but it will work if you are into that sort of thing. It only cuts in a single direction, but you can work pretty quickly thanks to the sharp and efficient blade. Unlike a knife or grater, there is little danger with this tool as long as you peel away from your body.
- As with the techniques above, wash and peel your carrots before getting started.
- You do not need to really cut off any ends when using this tool, but you may want to remove any yucky parts prior to starting.
- If adding carrots as a healthy alternative to croutons, hold the carrot right over your greens to allow them to fall on top. If collecting shreds for use is some other dish or recipe, work over a bowl to make it easy.
- Hold the tool in your dominant hand, and hold the vegetable in your other one. You want to sort of cradle the carrot lengthwise to expose the side. As you shred, you will move backward with your hand until you are left holding the last little nub.
- Press the peeler against the surface, apply pressure and then move lengthwise away from your body.
- More pressure will create a thicker stick, and less pressure will produce a finer shred. Watch your first couple of pieces, and then adjust to suit your needs. In the picture above, we used very light pressure to create that size piece.
- Some spinning may be necessary to keep things even and ensure you use the whole carrot. You should be able to shred every piece, all the way up until you are left with just a small chunk in your hand.
- Use short strokes for shorter pieces, or use long strokes for longer strips.
- Mix into garden salads, use for ingredients to another fresh salad, or cook evenly in a stove top dish.
- Clean up is easy, simply hand wash or pop in the dishwasher.
Similar to the peeler above, a julienne slicer will give you about the same sizing, but it will allow you to do more in less time. The Thin Julienne Slicer from Borner is a great carrot shredder, and makes the perfect tool for doing large piles at once. Unlike a standard grater, it will shred in stick-like strips, and it also cuts in both directions. This means that you will get perfectly uniform thickness, and you will be able to shred at maximum speed. As with the peeler, the pieces will not be that great for cakes because they will be thick and crunchy, but for everything else, it is pretty hard to beat. For added speed and safety that also allows you to use more of the food, a complimentary holder is recommended when using this tool. Not only will you protect your skin, you will also be able to hold more food, and shred it down to the last little bit.
- Wash your carrots and remove the dirty skin before slicing.
- You can hold the carrot by hand, and slide it to do the shredding, but for best results, follow the steps below.
- Cut your carrot into pieces that are small enough to be held by the food holder. They can be slightly larger,but full carrots will make it difficult. Usually just halving them is good.
- Poke two or more, side-by-side to secure in the holder. Metal prongs will hold the carrot in place, and the plunger at the top will allow you to expose more and more as you slice.
- Make sure to position the holder so that the carrots are lengthwise against the tool.
- To shred, simply slide the food up and down the face of the slicer. The super sharp blades are designed to cut in the perfect thickness, and they work in both directions. DO not lift up when you get to the bottom, simply slide back to keep on shredding.
- Keep slicing and perfect shreds will fall down under the slicer. Work over a bowl or plate for collection, or get the slice and serve bowl that compliments this tool. As food gets used, more will be exposed, and when using the safety holder, you should be able to use almost every last bit.
- Collect your work and add to recipe or salad.
- Hand wash or clean in dishwasher when finished.
There are many ways to shred a carrot. The exact method you want to go with will depend on what exactly you are using it for. Some dishes will benefit from the thin mushy shreds that a regular grater makes, and others will not. For the thickest, most accurate finished product, doing it by hand can not be beat, but may of us will prefer a faster and easier way to achieve similar results. The tools above are great options, and will definitely make it easy to make a pile of shredded carrots for salads and other stuff. For preservation of crunch and results that are quick to accomplish, a julienne peeler or slicer are your best bet. Quickly top a salad or add some color to that food you are cooking without breaking out a knife, or risking your precious fingers.
For all those out there that just like reading about carrots, and do not yet know what you will do with them, here is a quick and easy recipe you can make with your pile of orange shreds.
CARROT SALAD RECIPE
- 4 cups of shredded carrots
- 1 cup raisins
- 1/4-1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 2-1/2 Tbsp milk
- Place shredded carrots in large mixing bowl.
- Use a smaller bowl to mix mayo, sugar and milk to a salad dressing like consistency. Use more or less milk depending upon type and desired thickness. Sub yogurt or cream for a thicker result.
- Pour mixture over carrots and fold in
- Add in raisins and walnuts and toss
The ten minute prep time will yield a salad of about 8 or 10 servings.