In this brief guide, we will answer ‘how do you know when the carrots go bad?’ Also, we will look at the shelf life of carrots and the proper ways to store them.
How do you know when carrots go bad?
During storage, carrots are subjected to fresh weight loss depending on several parameters, such as temperature, humidity, composition of gas in the atmosphere, and methods of packing. Sensory changes indicating loss of quality during the storage of carrots can be a result of putrefaction, (what can be noticed by a bitter, sweet and acidic taste). Changes can also occur because of a decreased sugar content, and the formation of earthy odor, bitter off-flavors and firmness of carrots (1).
Like any other food, practice three attributes to judge whether it’s good or gone bad; look, feel and smell. By remembering and analyzing these three attributes of any food or food item you can easily tell whether it is safe to use or its time is over.
Look, visual sense. Sometimes carrots develop dark spots on them but it doesn’t mean it’s gone bad. You can simply cut those dark spots off and it is good for us. However, if you see any visible mold growth, they are definitely bad and unsafe to consume. It is best to discard it as it is unsalvageable.
Feel the sense of touch. Carrots tend to go soft and floppy but it does not mean it has gone bad or is not safe to consume. But if you notice a slippery or slimy feel, it is best to throw those carrots.
Smell, the sense of olfaction (nose). Fresh carrots have no floral smell until they’re cut. But when you notice a strong rotten smell, throw those out as soon as possible.
How do you know when baby carrots have gone bad?
Baby carrots go bad the same way as normal carrots do. However, it is difficult for something so short to bend.
So the surest signs to judge whether the baby carrots are still good to use or not can be any visible mold growth, slimy feel or pungent smell.
Can carrots be stored over the countertop?
Yes, carrots can be stored over countertops, in the pantry and even in a root cellar. Just make sure you avoid doing two things.
Firstly, make sure you are not storing your carrots with any other fruit or vegetable. This is because carrots fall under the category of climacteric foods – fruits that continue to ripen even after harvesting. Due to this carrots tend to release ethylene gas which speeds up the ripening and rotting process of fruits and vegetables. So, not only the carrots will go bad quicker but also all the other fruits or vegetables you stored along with carrots.
Secondly, make sure you are not storing the carrots in plastic bags. This will only collect moisture inside the bag that will lead to mold growth, making carrots unfit to consume. A study showed that fresh carrots can be stored at 20 °C for 21 days without great losses of carotene content, when placed in bags to avoid water losses (4).
Can you store carrots in the fridge?
Carrots do not need to be kept in the fridge; however, if you store them in the fridge they will be fresh for a longer period.
Inside the fridge, you may even store carrots in a plastic bag in order to retain product moisture (> 90%) (2). Just puncture a few holes in your bag or keep it wide open, to facilitate air circulation. Carrots can be stored for 2 weeks under refrigeration, but removing the tops of carrots prior to refrigerator storage will reduce loss of moisture and extend shelf-life (2).
Leftover cooked carrots can also be kept in the fridge for a longer period. Just place them inside an airtight plastic container and place that container in the refrigerator.
Can you store carrots in the freezer?
Yes, you absolutely can store carrots in the freezer. But not whole and fresh carrots from the grocery store. If you do this you will end up with mushy and unusable carrots once thawed. This is due to the damage the cell goes through when it’s frozen.
If you plan to freeze your carrots, they may need some extra effort. First prepare them like you want to freeze; peeled, cubed or sliced. Then blanch them in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes. Afterwards, drain and cool them in ice-cold water. Carrots can also be microwaved or steamed, but cooking in the microwave is the best option to better preserve the color and texture of the vegetable (3).
After cooling, pat dry the blanched carrots. After being dried, place your carrots in a zip-loc bag, pushing out as much air as possible. When carrots are stored this way, they will last up to 12 months (3).
Cooked carrots can also be stored just as long in the freezer as long as it is stored in an airtight container. The cooking method determines the quality of the cooked carrots and its sensory and nutritional aspects after freezed storage. Boiling, steaming and microwaving cooking procedures commonly applied and microwaving can better retain the initial texture and color quality of this vegetable (3).
How long can carrots be stored?
|Unrefrigerated||In the refrigerator||In the freezer|
|Fresh/uncooked carrots||213 – 5 days||3 – 4 weeks||Up to 1 year (if blanched)|
|Cooked carrots||–||73 – 5 days||Up to 1 year|
References (1, 4)
What to do with floppy carrots?
Carrots go soft and floppy as a result of dehydration, that is, most of their moisture has gone out. Since carrots are 80 to 95% water, when stored improperly, this moisture can easily escape out in the environment. For this reason, it is advisable to always store vegetables in plastic bags, to maintain their moisture (2).
Floppy carrots are still safe to eat. However, if you want that stiffness back, you may soak your carrots in cold water for 5 hours. Doing so may lead to some nutrient loss as all the water-soluble vitamins tend to leach out when the carrots get dehydrated.
Other FAQs about Carrots that you may be interested in.
In this brief guide, we answered ‘how do you know when the carrots go bad?’ Also, we have looked into the shelf life of carrots and the proper ways to store them.
Hopefully, you find this guide helpful and informative. In case of any queries or comments please do let us know.
- Berger, Matthias, et al. Correlations of carotene with sensory attributes in carrots under different storage conditions. Food Chem, 2008, 106, 235-240.
- Boyer, Renee R., and Julie Michelle McKinney. Food storage guidelines for consumers. 2018.
- Paciulli, M., Ganino, T., Carini, E. et al. Effect of different cooking methods on structure and quality of industrially frozen carrots. J Food Sci Tech, 2016, 53, 2443–2451.
- Imsic, Michael, et al. Effect of storage and cooking on β-carotene isomers in carrots (Daucus carota L. cv.‘Stefano’). J agric food chem, 2010, 58, 5109-5113.