Root Vegetable

The (Science-y) Secret to Super Sweet Carrots

September 29, 2017

I’m not a fan of cleaning my box grater. It shreds up my sponge and I never feel like I’m getting quite everything out. So, if I don’t need to shred in a recipe, I use it as a time to practice my chopping skills.

However, it does matter how you slice it—according to Christopher Kimball. In his newest cookbook, Milk Street: The New Home Cooking, the former America's Test Kitchen host explains that shredding root vegetables like carrots, turnips, or yams makes them taste both sweeter and fresher.

The more cells you rupture, the better the taste.
Christopher Kimball

“When the vegetable is cut, its cells rupture and release sugars and volatile hydrocarbons, the sources of the vegetables' sweetness and aroma,” he writes. "The more cells you rupture, the better the taste.”

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Nothing’s wrong with chopping or slicing, but there’s no getting around the fact that shredding is the best way to rupture cells.

For carrots harvested in the spring and summer, you don’t need to peel before shredding—just wash them well. Late-season carrots harvested in fall can have bitter skin and benefit from being peeled. But go ahead and taste one first and use your judgement.

I still think cleaning my box grater is a pain… but thanks to Kimball’s tip, I have a pretty sweet reason to get shredding. Want your own? Check out these grate (hehe) recipes:

The Grateful Shred

Do you hate cleaning your box grater too? Let me know what recipe's worth shredding for below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • judy
  • BerryBaby
  • Gail Hicks
    Gail Hicks
Katie is a food writer and editor who loves cheesy puns and cheesy cheese.


judy October 2, 2017
I don't have a box grater. I pick up a grating system many years ago from William sonoma. there are 3 grating plates: coarse and fine grate, thick and thin slice. Each plate snaps into a frame that has a handle on it. A container to catch the food snaps onto the user side of the frame. If you have extra there are plastic lids to snap onto the containers to store extras.
The plates are easy to clean, easy to interchange and store in a nice little storage box. Well done. Nice clean plates, no grated fingers or sponge! Never seen one again.
BerryBaby September 30, 2017
No problems cleaning the box grater. I've become a fan of my mandolin and do carrot coins.
If I have a lot of carrots or zucchini to grate, I use the food processor. That does require more cleaning but easier on the hands.
Gail H. September 30, 2017
I use my mandolin to do matchstick carrots. It’s not quite shredding but close.