Do Carrots Go Bad?

Carrots have a longer shelf life compared to other vegetables, but just like any other veggie, carrots do go bad. And if you don’t take proper care of them, they will turn soft and soggy after only a few days of buying.

So maybe you’re used to buying only as many carrots as you need for the next few days, and wonder how to store them for an extended period. Or you’re not quite sure how long they retain freshness in storage.

Either way, this article is here to help. In it, we go through storage, shelf life, and going bad of carrots. We touch upon baby carrots and talk about what to do with cooked carrots.

If you’re interested in learning more about any of these topics, read on.

Carrots in hand
Carrots in hand

How to Store Carrots

First off, if you get your carrots from the farmer’s market, they’re probably dirty and come with the greens. Start by brushing them off and cutting off the greens (you do the same for beets and radishes). If you plan on using the greens, store them separately.

Now it’s time to put them into storage. And while the fridge is, by and large, the best place to store carrots, there are other options and some tricks you might find useful.

Tip

Remember to keep carrots separate from veggies and fruits that produce quite a lot of ethylene. Those are for example bananas, pears, or apples.

Let’s say you plan on using the carrots within a couple of days and refrigerator space comes at a premium.

If that’s the case, storing them in a cool pantry or cellar is quite alright. And even a cabinet in the kitchen can work for such a short period. It’s not an ideal setting, but the carrots don’t turn soft and mushy that fast at room temperature. Make sure the place is dry and away from sources of heat.

If you need to store carrots or baby carrots for longer than say 4 – 5 days, the fridge is definitely the way to go. Put the veggies in their plastic bag in the vegetable drawer and leave the top open for some ventilation. That’s all well and good, but you can still level up your game a bit.

Prep for cutting carrots
Prep for cutting carrots

Carrots, similarly to asparagus, thrive in a wet environment. So to score some bonus points, you can wrap the carrots in the bag in a wet paper towel.

But if you plan on keeping the carrots in the fridge for a month or even more, you need to bring out the big guns. And in case of storing carrots, it’s putting them in a container of water. Change the water every time it turns cloudy. That’s similar to what we do with asparagus, and it does the job.

When it comes to peeled and sliced carrots, you should refrigerate them in an airtight container. Same thing when it comes to cooked carrots.

Carrots on a cutting board
Carrots on a cutting board

Can You Freeze Carrots?

Carrots freeze fairly well.

First off, you shouldn’t freeze carrots raw. The texture and color will change, and it won’t resemble the fresh thing after thawing. So if you’d like to freeze carrots to grate them for a salad at a later term, that won’t work.

For the freezing process to get you decent results, you need to either cook the carrots or blanch them. Because of that, I recommend, just like with broccoli, to freeze carrots in a dish. This way they’re ready to eat once thawed and warmed up. And the whole process doesn’t take any extra time, because you have to cook that dish either way.

Another option is to freeze the carrots after blanching them. The whole process takes some time, but it’s pretty straightforward. Here’s how it goes.

First, peel the veggies and cut into pieces that will work in a dish you’re going to use them in. If you don’t have a plan in place for how to use them, cut them in half lengthwise.

Blanching is the next thing to do. Once the veggies are cooled down, pat them dry with paper towels.

If you’d like to be able to easily pick a single piece of carrot from the freezer, you should flash freeze the pieces now.

The last thing to do is to portion the carrots into freezer bags and chuck them into the freezer. Add a label with name and date to each bag if needed.

Carrots ready for bone broth
Carrots ready for bone broth

How Long Do Carrots Last

Whole carrots will keep in the pantry for at least 3 to 5 days. Putting them into the fridge as-is increases that period to about 2 to 3 weeks with the wet paper towel. If you go all-in with the container with water, they should last for at least a month, if not a month and a half.

Baby carrots generally last a bit shorter than their big brothers so you can subtract a few days out of each estimate.

If you need to store carrots for a longer period, freezing is the way to go.

When it comes to sliced carrots, they should retain quality for about 3 to 5 days in the fridge. Cooked carrots usually last between 5 to 7 days.

 PantryFridge
Carrots (whole)3 – 5 days2 weeks
Carrots (with a wet towel) 3 weeks
Carrots (in container with water) 1 month

Please note the periods above are only estimates.

Carrots cut in pieces
Carrots cut in pieces

How to Tell If Carrots Have Gone Bad

Carrots go bad the same way other veggies do. Of course, you can cut out a few smaller dark spots and use the rest. But if there are many dark spots, any signs of mold or the veggie developed a slimy film, it’s best to throw it out. Same if it smells off.

Some moldy carrots
Moldy carrots. Pretty obvious you should discard them, right?

If everything seems to be okay about the veggie, you still have to consider its overall quality.

Over time, carrots lose much of their crunch and firmness. They become soft and mushy. And at some point, their quality becomes bad enough that the best thing you can do is to toss them out.

Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules here. If, say, you want to grate the carrots for a salad, soft ones are a terrible choice. Grating will take ages, and the resulting salad will be okay at best. But the same carrots should probably be quite alright for cooking or steaming. It’s pretty much up to you if you think the veggies are good enough or not.

When it comes to cooked carrots, if there are any signs of mold, dark spots, or they develop an off odor, toss them out. Same thing if you refrigerate them for more than say 10 days.