Here’s all about storing beets. Learn how to store store-bought beets, what to do with beets from your garden, and how to go about them after cooking.
Bought a bunch of beets and not sure what’s the best way to store them? Or maybe that’s your first harvest and you’re not quite sure what to do with the beets from your garden?
Store beets unwashed in the fridge, with the stems trimmed to 1 to 2 inches above the beet. Stored this way, beets will last about two weeks. Alternatively, you can store them at room temperature, where they’ll last for 3 to 5 days before they start to degrade in quality rapidly.
That’s this article’s takeaway if you’re in a hurry.
Here’s what we cover below in detail:
- how to store beets so that they stay fresh the longest
- differences between storing store-bought beets and ones you harvested from your garden
- when you can skip refrigerating your beets
- storing cooked beets
Let’s jump right in.
How to Store Beets
The best way to store beets is to cut off the greens 1 to 2 inches above their roots and refrigerate the beets without washing them first. You can either place them in the crisper drawer or in an airtight container on a fridge shelf.
If you’re used to washing your veggies before storage, you should probably stop doing that. For most fruits and veggies, if not all, washing prior to storage isn’t recommended, and the same is true for beets.
The usual explanation why washing before storage isn’t a good idea is that it promotes mold growth. That’s the case not because brief contact with water causes spoilage but because most people don’t dry their veggies thoroughly after washing.
Those vegetables end up in the fridge with some leftover water drops on the surface, and those drops can help any mold spores grow.
In other words, if you wash your veggies prior to storage, make sure they’re completely dry before they go in the refrigerator, and you should be fine.
Having that out of the way, let’s talk about beet greens.
Cut off Beet Greens
The first order of business is to remove the greens if they’re still attached. You shouldn’t cut them off completely, but trim them 1 to 2 inches above the root and leave the tail intact.
The recommendations on trimming vary slightly between sources, so I give a range instead of a precise number.
You cut the stem because it pulls the water from the root, shortening its storage time, but you leave that one inch to avoid color bleed.
(Greens typically draw their water from the bulbs, which is why you cut them off in other veggies too. Common examples include radishes and carrots.)
Related: How to store radishes?
Related: Do carrots need to be refrigerated?
If you need beet greens, store them separately in a freezer bag in the fridge. This way, they’ll last 3 to 4 days before they start to wilt.
If you need them to last a couple of days longer, consider wrapping them in a moist (not wet) paper towel so that they have something to draw moisture from.
(Beet greens are fine to eat, although I’d only suggest eating them if you buy organic beets or grow them yourself.)
Next, let’s talk about how to store beets in the fridge.
In the Fridge
Beets prefer a humid environment, and there are two ways to go about that.
The first is to toss them in the crisper drawer in a ventilated bag or without any bag at all. That works because the veggie drawer is typically the most humid place in the fridge.
The second option is to place the beets in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag.
If you go with that option, it doesn’t particularly matter where you put that container or bag. Either helps the beets retain their moisture, which means it doesn’t matter if the external environment is humid or not.
Now, say your fridge is packed, and you’re thinking about leaving them on the counter or in your pantry. Let’s talk about how that might work out.
Storing beets at room temperature is okay for only about 3 to 5 days. After that period, beets start to lose their firmness, and things go downhill from there.
Because of that, you should store your beets on the counter or in the pantry only if you know you’re going to use them within a couple of days.
If you need to store your beet unrefrigerated, make sure they sit in a cold and dry place that’s well ventilated. A reusable produce mesh bag is a good choice here, or you can place them in one of those vegetable baskets.
(You want the beets to stay perfectly dry because any moisture combined with room temperature is a recipe for mold growth.)
Next, let’s explore storing fresh beets from your own garden.
How to Store Fresh Beets From the Garden
Start by scrubbing your beets to get rid of all the dirt, or remove the soil by careful washing. Next, trim the stems to 1 to 2 inches above the root, and let the beets dry thoroughly before putting them in the refrigerator.
The major difference between store-bought and fresh-from-the-garden beets is that in the latter case, there will be a lot of dirt and debris that you want to get rid of before you put those beets in storage.
To do that, you can either scrub the veggies or wash them. And no matter which option you go with, you need those beets nice and dry before they go in the fridge.
I suggest leaving them for 30 to 60 minutes on a drying rack (or any alternative) to let the water run down or evaporate, and then pat them dry with paper towels. This way, you make sure the bulbs are dry.
Once the stems are removed and the beets dry, you place them either in the fridge or leave them at room temperature, just as I discussed earlier.
Do Beets Need to Be Refrigerated?
Beets don’t require refrigeration but greatly benefit from it. At room temperature, beets last only 3 to 5 days. On the other hand, if you refrigerate your beets, they last for up to two weeks, so it’s best to keep them in the fridge.
In other words, unless you have a plan in place that involves eating those beets within a couple of days, you should toss them in the fridge.
Related: How long do beets last?
When it comes to cooked beets, they require refrigeration at all times.
How to Store Cooked Beets?
Cooked beets and any cooked beet dishes should be refrigerated in an airtight container or lidded pot once they cool down to about room temperature. Stored this way, they’ll last for 3 to 4 days.
As usual, make sure the cooldown process doesn’t take longer than 2 hours. Thirty minutes to an hour should be more than enough in most cases.
When it comes to where you should put the beets, anything that you can seal is an option. Airtight containers are an obvious choice, but lidded pots and bowls, meal prep containers, or even freezer bags work too.
And if those 3 to 4 days aren’t enough for you, freezing cooked beets or other leftovers that you have might be worth considering.
Of course, not all beet dishes are created equal, and some (e.g., beet patties or roasted beets) freeze better than others (a dressed salad, for instance).