Carrot juice is a staple in any one’s juicing regime, it’s one of the first ingredients I ever juiced along with some orange, apple, and ginger and it’s where I tell most people to start if they’re new to juicing.
But how are you supposed to prepare carrots? Do you peel them before you juice them? Should you leave the carrot greens on top on? And how the heck do you wash them?
The short version is that no you don’t need to peel carrots before you juice them because a lot of the nutrition is in the skin but you do need to wash them before you juice them. Also, the tops are completely fine to juice, even if they’ve got sprouted greens coming out of them, they aren’t poisonous and you can leave the greens there.
Whether you’ve grown them yourself bought them in the grocery store, and even if you want to make a smoothie, not a juice you need to do very little to your carrots except make sure they’re clean, which I talk about further down. The carrot leaves taste different, more like leafy greens but they can go through the juicer and should only be removed for taste reasons.
But let’s go into more detail.
Do You Peel Carrots Before Juicing?
Nope, carrot skin is completely fine to go through your juicer. Peeling them just takes up time that you don’t need to waste. There is good nutrition in the peel and while there is a very minor earthy taste to the skin if it’s eaten by itself you’re not going to notice it in your juice.
Other root vegetables like beets, for instance, have very tough skin and a very distinct flavor in their skin, carrot skin is thin and the taste difference barely noticeable.
You should chop them up into chunks before you juice them however, this isn’t for any nutritional reason but because your juicer is quite likely to jam if you put carrots in whole, especially if they’re large and fresh so they’re still very hard.
If there is any discoloration or black chunks in the skin you can feel free to cut those parts out, I’m sure you’d be fine putting it through the juicer but best just to leave them out. If you do decide to peel them make sure you put the carrot peels into compost so they don’t get wasted.
Most veggies can get juiced whole, the only valid argument for peeling is generally when the taste gets changed, so citrus fruit is on the fence, I juice whole oranges other people have to peel them, but it’s your juice recipe so it’s up to you!
Can You Juice Carrot Tops?
You can try to put Carrot Top in a juicer but I don’t think he’ll like it!
Jokes aside you can indeed juice carrot tops, they don’t have a huge amount of juice in them but it saves a little bit of time in prep because you don’t have to top and tail them before juicing.
Again there is a little bit of different flavor to carrot greens that might make your juice a little more bitter so you’re more than welcome to compare the two and see if you can tell the difference but I don’t imagine you’ll be able to.
The carrot greens are packed full of antioxidants and vitamins which give your juice an extra boost, and unlike the internet myths, they aren’t, in fact, toxic and don’t have anything poisonous in them.
Parsnip stalks do, as do some wild carrots so you don’t just go juicing anything that looks like a carrot from your garden!
The reason people thought they were toxic is from a dodgy New York Times article where he claimed they might be, with no evidence to back it up. The claim was that carrot tops contain alkaloids, which they do, and because alkaloids are also in cocaine it must be bad.
This is bad science and I’m surprised the New York Times let it slide through but there you go. Long story short, juice your carrot tops, make them into pesto, eat carrot tops whole, throw carrot top greens into a salad, do as you please but know they are not toxic.
Some people have even made carrot top recipes but to me that’s excessive, carrot top pesto made with pine nuts is a step too far! If you don’t like the bitter taste in your juice send them to the compost.
How Do You Clean Carrots Before Juicing
Carrots you bought from the store are nice and easy to clean before juicing, you just have to run them under the cold tap and give them a good run down. Just with your hand rub it all over making sure to get any little bits of dirt off so that they look completely clean.
Homegrown, farmers markets or organic carrots are different, the ones that are covered in dirt, those need some extra cleaning so you’ll need a brush to scrub them down to make sure you’ve got every last piece of dirt off. This is what can make you sick because the dirt is what carries the germs and dangers that can lead to you getting sick. You can use a vegetable brush for this but as long as you’re giving them a good scrub with something you’ll be fine.
Some people make washing solutions for cleaning their vegetables, made from different kinds of vinegar but to me, this is just overkill. A good cold water wash will clean anything particularly nasty off and anything left over will be dealt with in the body. We’re pretty resilient after all!
That’s the thing with organic produce, it’s got fewer chemicals but if we eat dirt we can get sick so you still have to make sure you’re washing them thoroughly, not as much as a peeler which could be a reason to peel them. You could peel and rinse instead of scrubbing but you don’t need to. The outer skin is pretty thin so don’t worry too much.
Are Unpeeled Carrots Healthier?
Almost certainly not, as I said before carrot skin has some lovely nutrients in it the same as in the rest of carrots, good sources of beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, Vitamin K, Potassium, and vitamin B6.
But there aren’t that many of them in the skins, it’s not that 90% of the nutrition is in the skin, so if you peel them you are still going to have a healthy juice. So carrots are healthy with or without the peel, it’s entirely up to you. If you’re juicing you just as well leaving them as they are.
How Much Carrot Juice Can You Drink A Day?
You can drink as much as you like really, with in reason, don’t go drinking gallons of it a day, you need much more variety in your nutrition for a balanced diet. But the danger of having too much carrot juice isn’t in accidentally poisoning yourself, it’s the danger you get turned orange!
After about 10 carrots a day, over a few weeks your skin will start to get an orange tinge to it, and not a nice tan look, a not so nice carrot orange color. Not what anyone wants I’m sure! But it’s not just carrots, it’s the beta-carotene which is also found in oranges, cantaloupes, squash and sweet potato, so go easy on it!
Carrot juice is best when mixed with a few other ingredients anyway, make sure you’re getting a nice mix of vegetables.
Extra Delicious Veggies for Carrot Juice
There are loads of carrot juice recipes, here are mine, and any combination can be fun to try for a healthy vegan drink but some of my favorites to add are grapefruit, beetroot, watermelon, kale, and orange. Not necessarily all together but those are all great fruits and veggies to have with carrot juice, and carrot tops of course.
A little ginger and some Tumeric can also really spice it up and give you some great flavors. Not to mention plenty of health benefits and nutritional value too!
And there you have it! You want to wash your carrot under the cold tap giving them a good rub down and removing any dirt that you can see.
Then you want to leave them unpeeled and leave the tops on for the extra nutrition it can give you but you do want to chop them into chunks so you can get them through the juicer easily.
I know you’ll think a whole carrot will fit fine through your juicer but trust me, it doesn’t work! Juicing carrots has to be done one small piece at a time, just like eating them, don’t try eating carrots, whole kids!