Why You Shouldn't Throw Away Carrot Tops

More and more people are trying to waste less food, and considering that 30% to 40% of the food supply in the U.S. ends up as food waste, per the US Food & Drug Administration, that's a really worthwhile goal. One way to do that is to make use of as much of an ingredient as possible, like making broth from chicken or beef bones or incorporating the leafy green tops of vegetables into your cooking. However, some people who are already practicing these cost-saving and eco-friendly cooking habits regularly toss the tops of carrots, perhaps due to a mistaken belief that they are inedible or poisonous. If that sounds familiar, then get ready to change up your routine, as there are very good reasons you need to stop throwing carrot tops away.

For one thing, carrot tops are incredibly nutritious. According to The Guardian, not only do carrot tops have six times as much vitamin C as carrot roots, along with calcium, potassium, and phytonutrients, but they may also help with digestion. And contrary to popular myth, carrot tops are not toxic. With a slightly bitter and earthy flavor that has been compared to parsley, tarragon, beet greens, and Swiss chard, carrot tops can be a delicious addition to a variety of dishes.

Ways to use carrot tops

One of the most popular ways to use carrot tops is as the unexpected ingredient swap to overhaul your pesto, either as a replacement or addition to basil. Carrot tops are also great additions to salsas, chimichurris, hummus, harissas, and veggie burgers, in addition to soups, stocks, salads, and smoothies. Try sautéing some carrot greens with kale for a healthy side dish of wilted greens. Carrot tops also work well as a garnish for dishes or even cocktails like a carrot margarita.

Be sure to separate the carrot tops from the rest of the carrots so they don't compete with each other for moisture. Since carrot tops often have dirt on them, you'll also want to give them a good wash before using: rinse them under running water or soak them in a bowl of cold water while gently shaking the greens. Pat dry, or use a salad spinner or hang them upside down to dry. Carrot tops can be stored in the fridge for a day or two until you're ready to use them. Place them in a glass of water stem down or wrap them in a damp paper towel inside a plastic bag.