grating/shredding tips?
December 21, 2011 1:22 PM   Subscribe

How do I shred carrots and beets so they stay moist?

My favorite salad in the whole world has shredded beets and carrots in it. I spend a lot of money at the restaurant that offers this salad and I'd like to start making it at home. I just can't figure out how to grate or shred those two ingredients so they don't end up all gnarly and dry like the prepackaged stuff I find in grocery stores. Cursory Google searches yield results like, "Well, just spritz everything with water/lemon juice/ambrosia/whatever" and that doesn't seem right, and I'm too much of a cooking novice to understand what tools I'm supposed to use. What's the haps, Hivemind?
posted by iLoveTheRain to Food & Drink (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Carrots but particularly beets are very, very moist. They should not dry out within, say, 48 - 72 hours if you shred them and store them in a closed tupperware container. "Spritz" can mean using a tool (like a spray bottle) but it can also mean running your hand under a tap and shaking it over the shredded veg. Sprinkly water from your hand, close the container and shake.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:28 PM on December 21, 2011

I'm not sure if you're averse to new tastes but I make a carrot beet salad which involves tossing them in a bit of olive oil and chili sesame oil. I've never had a problem with them drying out.
posted by zem at 1:32 PM on December 21, 2011

If you're eating it within a couple of days, putting some kind of dressing on it, and keeping it in a tightly covered container, you shouldn't have any issues at all. The prepackaged stuff in the grocery store has been shredded for much longer than you're going to keep the salad in your house, and has been put through all sorts of temperature and humidity changes in transit.
posted by something something at 1:34 PM on December 21, 2011

So how do you guys get the texture in the picture? My microplane, box shredder, and food processor blade have holes that are too small (and make shreds that are generally too thin, as well), but my matchsticks are too big. Do I just need to keep practicing until I can make really slender matchsticks, or is there some secret device that makes thicker shreds of carrot/beetroot/daikon?
posted by gingerest at 1:40 PM on December 21, 2011

Not to threadsit, but Gingerest spoke my mind exactly, so in case this wasn't clear to begin with... I know that the correct term to describe the physical state of the carrots and beets is shredded/grated, but what do I use to get them that way? A food processor? A mandolin?
posted by iLoveTheRain at 1:42 PM on December 21, 2011

I use a box grater (example) or my ancient Cuisinart food processor, which came to me with a grating blade.
posted by Squeak Attack at 1:45 PM on December 21, 2011

My inexpert opinion looking at the pic is some sort of spiral cutter. These cut beets and carrots to a really nice size for carrots and you can keep them in spiral form or just chop them up a bit to get shorter lengths. I am convinced all veggies taste better in spiral form.

Here's one on Amazon, I haven't used it or anything just picked one at random, that has photos of the veg.
posted by wwax at 1:47 PM on December 21, 2011

I have a Mouli grater that is wonderful for things like this - they're not available new any more but there's some on ebay and sometimes you can find them in thrift stores. It comes with several plates with varying hole sizes for grating.
posted by kyla at 1:49 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding Squeak Attack on both counts. My box grater and food processor will both make shreds that size, and they were both inexpensive Target purchases. The food processor is a Cuisinart but was only about $50.
posted by something something at 1:50 PM on December 21, 2011

a Japanese Benriner brand mandolin is cheap, and perfect for turning hard vegetables into long, delicate matchsticks with a perfectly square cross-section.

Though in a restaurant, I think they would probably do theirs with the big grating disk for a food processor.
posted by peachfuzz at 1:55 PM on December 21, 2011

My v-slicer has a julienne setting that does those cuts very nicely.
posted by peep at 2:01 PM on December 21, 2011

oh hey. Here's my V-slicer, and someone has a customer image of julienned potatoes. Check it out! I love the internet.
posted by peep at 2:04 PM on December 21, 2011

Hmm, the more I think about it, the more I realize that two tools are being used at this restaurant. The beets are definitely produced via a spiral cutter as they are long and stringy, but the carrots are done in such a way that the individual gratings are tapered. No matchstick-ness. That rules out the mandolin and V-slicer as they both yield square cross sections (and, IME, dryness too soon). The carrots are so soft and juicy in the form that I'm getting them at this restaurant, and that's why I'm being really nit-picky about this.

I want this, not this.
posted by iLoveTheRain at 2:14 PM on December 21, 2011

It's been a while, but I blanched carrots to make carrot slaw. I would think a carrot blanched in a mild salt/vinegar/sugar bath might give you a pleasant texture. Beets might as well.

When I say blanched, I mean for like 30 seconds. Not long enough to cook them all the way.
posted by S'Tella Fabula at 2:21 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have a julienne cutter that looks like a potato peeler. I can't think off the top of my head of a way to describe exactly what shape it makes when I run it across a carrot, but it's shredded-y and great for salads! (I got it at Ross or Marshalls for super cheap, like $1.99 or something)
posted by bilabial at 2:36 PM on December 21, 2011

Buying really good fresh local vegetables can make a huge difference. I put out a plate of local carrots at a party I had recently and everyone felt like they had never had a carrot before, they were so good. From my experience, they tend to be a lot moister than generic bagged grocery store carrots.

Also, I recently saw a recipe for beet / carrot salad that recommended covering with a wet paper towel. I usually dress my grated carrot salads, so they last for at least a few days.
posted by beyond_pink at 2:55 PM on December 21, 2011

I strongly suspect your carrots have been blanched and shocked. It changes the character of the carrot without destroying the crunch.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:06 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

The V-slicer peep linked could make the carrots - the ends are tapered because the carrot is held at an angle.
posted by gingerest at 3:10 PM on December 21, 2011

Whoops, not carrot cake! This is what the carrots look like!

Like cheese! What tool does that?
posted by iLoveTheRain at 3:14 PM on December 21, 2011

It kind of looks like the result of a rotary grater
posted by Packed Lunch at 3:31 PM on December 21, 2011

You need a grater with small holes. We used to have grated carrot salad a lot in France when I was a kid. Olive oil, lemon juice, a little salt, presto. Eat it fresh. The grating itself makes the carrots sweeter, I learned that in science class when I was 8.
posted by mareli at 3:31 PM on December 21, 2011

The flickr pic looks like the second smallest holes on my old skool box grater. I grate carrots & zucchini for a stuffed pasta that I make, and the carrots are so juicy that I have to WRING the extra juice out.
posted by peep at 3:38 PM on December 21, 2011

The right side of this box grater looks like the size I use for my juicy carrot thing. Mine also has smaller size that I only use for ginger. It pulverizes things into mush and looks like those foot pumice things. Don't use that one.
posted by peep at 3:42 PM on December 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

I grate carrots regularly to make delicious salad, and it definitely will do what you want. Any decent 4-sided box grater will do the trick (and is surely an essential kitchen appliance!). As marell says, a bit of lemon juice and olive oil will make it sing.

That V-slicer mandolin looks interesting, but I'd probably at least try grating the beets too, to see if they're acceptable that way.

Peep, the tiny pointy holes are great for parmesan cheese!
posted by Magnakai at 4:52 PM on December 21, 2011

I think an old Mouli like kyla mentioned, would achieve the result you want for the carrots. But I can't imagine a restaurant would use one.
posted by Packed Lunch at 5:59 PM on December 21, 2011

Most cheese graters with fineish holes would do what you want to do.
posted by koahiatamadl at 7:51 PM on December 21, 2011

I get carrots like that just with a regular chop blade in a mini food processor. They aren't 100% even, though. A small-hole grater with the carrot perpendicular would also do it, as would the large hole however, after which you food process it. Carrots are pretty strong, they won't dissolve into paste or carrot juice or anything if they get too small.
posted by rhizome at 11:13 PM on December 21, 2011

I grate a salad of beets and carrots with a box grater (big holes like I'd use for cheese) and I usually make a bowl for a week's worth of meals and it doesn't dry out. I use nice veggies from the farmer's market and a box grater. I store it in a stainless bowl with alu foil to cover it. How do you store your salad?
posted by glip at 12:12 AM on December 22, 2011

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