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.
In it, we talk about:
- the shelf life of carrots – how long they stay good for, depending on whether you refrigerate them 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)
- how to go about freezing carrots (if you really need to)
- telling if your carrots are still safe to eat or not
And in case you were wondering, we talk about baby carrots and cooked carrots as well. If that’s what you have on hand, we’ve got you covered.
Interested? Read on.
How Long Do Carrots Last?
Whole carrots keep in the pantry for at least 3 to 5 days, depending on the temperature. If you refrigerate them, they keep for about two weeks.
To get more time, you need to supply your carrots with some water. If you wrap them in a damp paper towel, they should keep for up to 3 weeks, and if you cover them in water in a container, they keep for at least a month.
If you need to store carrots for a longer period, freezing is the way to go.
Baby carrots usually last a bit shorter than their big brothers so you can subtract a couple of days out of each estimate.
When it comes to sliced carrots, they should retain quality for about 3 to 5 days in the fridge. Cooked carrots usually last between 4 to 5 days.
|Carrots (whole)||3 – 5 days||2 weeks|
|Carrots (with a wet towel)||3 weeks|
|Carrots (submerged in water)||1 month|
|Sliced carrots||3 – 5 days|
|Cooked carrots||4 – 5 days|
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 with beets and 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 burrying them in sand, but that’s not easily doable for most of us.
I store carrots in a kitchen cabinet whenever refrigerator space comes at a premium. It lasts only a couple of days before it darkens and grows mold, though.
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).
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 ([SW]). 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.
How To Store Cut Carrots?
For peeled and sliced carrots, the easiest option is to refrigerate them in an airtight container or freezer bag.
If you want them to last longer than say 3 to 4 days, try submerging them in water, the same way you can submerge whole unpeeled carrots.
How To Store Cooked 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.
Can You Freeze Carrots?
Carrots freeze fairly well, and freezing them is a great option if throwing them out is the alternative.
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.
To get decent results, you need to either cook the carrots or blanch them. Because of that, I recommend, just like with broccoli, freezing 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.
- Prep. Peel the veggies and cut into pieces that will work in the 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. Once the veggies are cooled down, pat them dry with paper towels.
- Pre-freezing. If you’d like to be able to easily pick a single piece of carrot from the freezer, you should pre-freeze the pieces now.
- Portion and freeze. Portion the carrots into freezer bags and chuck them into the freezer. Add a label with a name and date to each bag if you like.
Do Carrots Go Bad? How to Tell If a Carrot Is Bad?
Carrots go bad the same way other veggies do. When checking if yours are safe to eat, do the following:
- Look for 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 a rotten carrot), discard the specimen.
- Give it a whiff. If it smells off or funky, discard it.
- Assess quality. If the carrot is somewhat slimy or a bit soft and bendy, it’s usually still usable. But if it’s all withered and soft, it’s time for it to go.
When it comes to 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 mushy. And in some dishes, those carrots might still be okay, white in others not so much.
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 7 days.