How Long Do Carrots Last?
Every time I see fresh, firm carrots in the vegetable section of the store, I buy a few too many. And at some point, I get worried that those carrots will go bad before I can use them.
If you’re like me, and you’ve got a big bag of carrots to go through, the first thing you need is to know what’s the shelf life of those veggies. Without that knowledge, it’s difficult to plan how to use them. Or if you have to freeze some of them, so they don’t go soft or rot.
And before we get into the nitty-gritty, the first thing you should know is that the fridge is, for most of us, the best place to store carrots. If I don’t have any room in the fridge, I keep these root vegetables in a cabinet in the kitchen, but they don’t last nearly as long as they do in the refrigerator.
Photo by Jonathan Pielmayer.
Carrots last in the fridge about a month (SW), maybe even a week or two longer. Like with all veggies, it depends on the quality of the produce you’ve bought. But there’s also quite a lot you can do to help keep those carrots for longer.
First off, if your carrots come with the leaves and stems intact, remove them before you put the carrots in storage (SW, WCS). If you plan on using them, store them separately; if not, discard them. The green top pulls moisture from the root (the carrot), and the last thing you want is a wilted carrot due to moisture loss.
Second, keep the carrots in the vegetable drawer, and nowhere near any ethylene producing fruits, such as apples and bananas. If all you do is remove the greens and leave the carrots unwashed in the produce drawer, they should keep fresh for at least two to 3 weeks.
To make them last even longer, you need to keep them humid, so they don’t wilt. One option is wrapping the carrots in wet paper towels, which should help them last at least a couple of days longer. If you need them to last a month or even longer, place them in an airtight container and submerge in water (SW). Change the water every 4 to 5 days for best results.
Photo by Harshal S. Hirve.
There is a bunch of options when it comes to storing carrots outside the fridge. The most popular, and the default for many people, is to keep them in the pantry. Or another place that’s around room temperature or a bit below. In such conditions, the carrots will last between 4 days and maybe a week, depending on the temperature. If it’s sweltering outside and you don’t have air conditioning, expect them to go soft within 2 to 3 days.
Another well known long-term storage method is storing the carrots in sand. If you’re growing carrots in your garden and want to keep them for months, you should give it a try (SW).
Last but not least, you can also freeze carrots, which is a great option if you don’t have much room in the fridge, but you can fit them in the freezer.
Photo by Mae Mu/a>.
Freezing carrots is simple, but requires a bit of time to get the best results. Here’s how to go about it (SW):
- Peel and cut up the veggies. When it comes to cutting, you can do it however you want. If you know how you’re going to use those carrots, cut them in a way they’re ready to be used without further prep.
- Blanch the carrots. Bring a pot of water to a boil and submerge the carrots in it for 2 (for smaller pieces) to 5 minutes (for whole, pretty large carrots). After that period, transfer the carrots immediately to a pot of cold water to stop the cooking process. You can do this in batches, but make sure the water always gets back to a boil before you add new carrots, and that the cooling water stays cold (replace to water or add some ice cubes). Let the carrots cool down.
- Strain the liquid, and let the carrots dry. Paper towels or a kitchen cloth will do the job. Make sure the carrots are dry before you go further.
- Package the carrots into freezer bags, label them if needed, and place in the freezer.
The carrots will retain quality in the freezer for months (SW). Of course, frozen and defrosted carrots won’t be the same as fresh carrots, so use them in cooked dishes, not in salads.
When it comes to defrosting, you can do it in the fridge, or if you’re in a hurry, in cold water. If the carrots are meant for a soup or a stew, don’t bother with thawing. Throw them in frozen.
Generally, cooked carrots can last up to a week in the fridge, if sealed tightly. That depends on if they’re prepared by themselves, or in a dish. If they’re in a dish, that period is often closer to like five days, but it all depends on other ingredients that you used.
One thing I found helpful is that many dishes (mainly stews, and similar) with cooked carrots freeze well. And freezing them is as simple as portioning the dish into airtight containers and putting them into the freezer.
I’m pretty sure you know how to tell a bad carrot from a good one. If the carrot starts to rot, or there’s visible white fuzz all over it, throw it out. Same thing if it turns slimy. Of course, if only a small part starts to turn black, you can cut it out (and then some), and eat the rest. You probably do that for most of your veggies, anyway.
When it comes to soft, rubbery carrots, it all depends on your personal taste and quality standards. They aren’t unsafe to eat by any means but usually aren’t that pleasurable to consume either. I tend to use slightly soft carrots (that is, not completely firm), but throw out ones that are rubbery and can be easily bent. The bottom line is that it’s up to you when and if you throw out a wilted carrot.
- Carrots last up to a month in the fridge in the veggie drawer. Remove the greens and keep the roots humid by using wet paper towels or submerging in water.
- Carrots at room temperature stay okay for 4 to 7 days, or less if it’s warm where you keep them.
- Cooked carrots typically keep for a week in the fridge, closed tightly.
- If you don’t have a good way to use the carrots before they go bad, try freezing.