A bag of pre-shredded carrots may seem like the height of convenience, but the often dry, inexplicably rubbery vegetable shreds remind me of too many sad side salads. Even though I am fully aware that I enjoy a freshly shredded carrot far more than a bagged one, I cannot resist the siren song of laziness. (I currently have two bags of shredded carrots in my fridge.) Fortunately, the near-desiccated vegetable wisps can be transformed back into their pliable, flavorful selves; you just need a little salt.
Like any plant part you toss with sodium chloride, shredded carrots are softened by osmosis. Water (the solvent) moves out of the carrots’ cellular walls towards the salt (the solute), ultimately collapsing them, and it happens quickly. Just a 1/4 teaspoon of salt can tenderize a cup of shredded carrots in about 15 minutes. It also flavours them (with salt), which is an added bonus.
All you have to do is toss the carrots with salt to coat using the ratio above and let them sit in a bowl for at least 10 minutes, or until they achieve the level of give you are looking for. Once they’re softened, you can toss them with a super acidic vinaigrette for an easy salad, pickle them with seasoned vinegar, or add them to a bowl of greens for an un-sad side salad. If you are worried about over-salting your final dish, just rinse the salt off of the carrot shreds before you dress them. I rarely rinse them unless I’m finishing them with a salty dressing (like a fish sauce vinaigrette), but that’s just me.