Here’s all you need to know about the shelf life of carrots. Learn how long whole, cut, cooked, and baby carrots last, plus how to tell if they’re spoiled or not.
Bought a bunch of carrots, and not sure how long they can sit in storage? How long do carrots last, actually?
Or maybe you need yours to last a bit longer than usual, and you’re searching for the best way to store carrots.
Sounds familiar? If so, this article is for you. Here’s what we cover below:
- the shelf life of carrots – how long are carrots good for, depending on whether you refrigerate them or not
- telling if your carrots are still safe to eat or not
- storing carrots at home – what are the best storage practices, both for storing in the pantry and in the fridge (relax, I’m not going to tell you to cover them with sand)
Interested? Read on.
How Long Do Carrots Last?
|Whole carrots||3 – 5 days||2 – 4 weeks|
|Shredded carrots||3 – 4 days|
|Sliced carrots||1 – 2 weeks|
|Cooked carrots and leftovers||3 – 4 days|
|Baby carrots||1 – 2 weeks|
Fresh whole carrots keep in the pantry for about 3 to 5 days, depending on the temperature. If you refrigerate them, they last for two to four weeks, depending on the storage method. Sliced carrots can last for one to two weeks, while cooked carrots and any dishes that contain them keep for only 3 to 4 days.
To get more storage time, you need to supply your carrots with some water. That’s why if you just chuck them in the crisper drawer, they keep for about 2 weeks, but if you wrap them in a damp paper towel or submerge them in water, they last for around 3 and 4 weeks, respectively.
That works for both whole carrots and slightly processed ones (e.g., sliced or cut ones, which still can last up to two weeks), and I cover it in more detail in the storage section.
How Long Do Baby Carrots Last?
Baby cut carrots last about 1 to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Similar to regular-sized carrots, they like being stored in a humid environment, which is why the crisper drawer is the best place for them. For best results, store baby carrots in a resealable bag or airtight container.
Baby carrots are harvested before they reach maturity, and that’s why they don’t last as long as their big brothers do. That said, you can use the same tricks to prolong their storage time to maybe 3 weeks.
How to Store Carrots
Main article: How to Store Carrots?
You can store carrots in the pantry or in the fridge. If you go with the pantry, make sure carrots are in a cool and dry place and can breathe. If you refrigerate them, you can leave them in a half-open plastic bag, or go the extra mile and wrap them with moist paper towels or submerge them in water.
Those are the basics, let’s talk about the details.
For starters, make sure your carrots are brushed off and the greens are cut off (we do the same when storing beets and storing radishes). If you get your carrots from the farmer’s market, they’re probably dirty and come with the greens attached, so you have to take care of that on your own.
(If you plan on using the greens, store them separately in a moist paper towel.)
Before we place the carrots anywhere, remember to keep carrots separate from veggies and fruits that produce quite a lot of ethylene. Those are, for example, bananas, pears, or apples.
Now it’s time to put them into storage.
The fridge is, by and large, the best place to store carrots, but it’s not the only option.
Storing Carrots in the Pantry
If you need your carrots to last only for a couple of days, a pantry or a cold cellar are both decent storage options. Even a cabinet in the kitchen can work for such a short period.
It’s not an ideal setting, but carrots don’t turn soft and mushy that fast at room temperature. Make sure the place is dry and away from heat sources, though.
Of course, there are other options on how to store carrots without refrigeration, like burying them in sand, but that’s not easily doable for most of us.
Storing Carrots in the Fridge
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 good enough for most cases, but you can still level up your game a bit (if you need some extra storage time).
Carrots, like asparagus, thrive in a wet environment. To score some bonus points, you can wrap the carrots in the bag in a moist (not wet) paper towel.
If you need the carrots to last for a month or even more, you need to bring out the big guns.
And in the case of storing carrots, it’s putting them in a container of water. Change the water every 4 to 5 days, or sooner if it turns cloudy. That’s similar to what we do with asparagus, and it does the job.
Of course, you can use all three storage methods for baby carrots as well.
Do Carrots Need To Be Refrigerated?
You don’t need to refrigerate carrots, as they last for a couple of days at room temperature. But if you need more than 4 to 5 days for carrots, or 2 days for baby carrots, refrigeration is the better option. Just by transferring your carrots into the fridge you more than double their shelf life.
For peeled and sliced carrots, the easiest option is to refrigerate them in an airtight container or freezer bag. They should last for a week or two this way. If you need more time, try submerging them in water, the same way you submerge whole unpeeled carrots.
Let the carrots (or the dish they’re a part of) cool down to about room temperature (but no longer than for 2 hours), and transfer them into an airtight container.
How to Tell If Carrots Are Bad?
Discard your carrots if:
- There are large dark spots or any signs of mold or rot. If only a small part of the veggie is affected, you can cut it off, but if decay is taking over (e.g., it’s clearly rotten), discard it. If you’re not sure you’re comfortable eating that carrot, that’s a great sign you should toss it.
- They’re super soft or slimy. If the carrot is a bit soft, bendy, or feels rubbery, it’s usually still usable. But if it’s slimy or all withered and soft, it’s time for it to go.
- It’s shredded or cooked and sits in the fridge for more than 4 days. Cooked and shredded carrots last only for so long, and trying to get an extra day or two usually isn’t a good idea. It’s better to err on the side of caution and toss these, even if everything seems to be fine.
- They smell off. While it’s not that common, if your carrots smell funky or like something about them is off, discard them.
When it comes to overall quality, it’s more complicated than a simple “okay” and “not okay.” There are no hard and fast rules here.
Over time, carrots lose much of their crunch and firmness. They become softish. And in some dishes, those carrots might still be okay, white in others not so much.
If, say, you want to grate your 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.
In other words, it’s pretty much up to you if you think the veggies are good enough or not.
Baby Carrots White Film
If your baby carrots are covered with a white film, they’re still safe to eat. That film or blush is simply a thin layer of dehydrated carrot, and it forms after prolonged air exposure, which quickly dries out the skin.
The same doesn’t happen as easily to regular-sized carrots because they’re mature and their skin is much better at protecting them against dehydration.