While carrots are one of the most used vegetables in every kitchen, there are still many questions regarding their storage conditions. Should you refrigerate carrots or should you store them in the pantry?
How long do carrots last? The shelf life of carrots depends on where and how you store them. Carrots stored in the pantry will keep well for up to 5 days. The fridge provides a longer shelf life for carrots – from 2 to 4 weeks depending on whether you keep the carrots in a bag, wrapped in a wet towel, or submerged in water.
Continue reading to learn more about the shelf life and storage conditions of carrots, as well as how to freeze and dehydrate them to make the carrots last 12 months and longer.
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Do Carrots Go Bad?
Fruits and vegetables don’t come with an expiration date and recommended storage conditions. To make the most out of the fresh produce you are buying it is important to know the basic storage rules that apply to the vegetables you use most often.
Carrots being one of the most common base ingredients for such dishes as soups, stews, and salads, can easily go bad if you don’t store them properly.
How to Store Carrots?
You can store carrots both in the pantry and in the fridge. Which one is the best option for you depends on how long you need the carrots to last.
Storing Carrots in the Pantry
If you will be using the carrots within the following few days of buying them, you can keep them in the pantry, cellar, or any room in the house where it is cooler.
Higher temperature causes the carrots to become soft. And who needs carrots that don’t have the crunch? Not only high temperature but also heat sources are not what you should be exposing the carrots to.
You should also make sure that the room where you store the carrots is dry. Humidity and moisture are never good for veggies stored in the pantry.
Keep the carrots off ground, in a separate bin away from fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene. The latter is a type of gas produced during the ripening process of certain fruits and vegetables.
Carrots are very sensitive to this ripening hormone. As a result of exposure to ethylene, carrots acquire bitterness.
You can also store carrots in a plastic bag. When doing this, leave the bag open for ventilation.
Storing Carrots in the Fridge
If you are not going to use the carrots soon enough, the fridge is where you should store them.
When storing carrots in the fridge, put them in a plastic bag, and leave it open. Alternatively, you can make some holes in the bag to provide the airflow.
To extend the shelf life of carrots stored in the fridge wrap them in a wet paper towel. Refrigerating carrots in a water bowl is also an option. You should change the water every 4 to 5 or as soon as it gets cloudy.
Cooked carrots should be stored in the fridge too. You shouldn’t leave them at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.
Peeled uncooked carrots should be refrigerated in an airtight container or bag.
Note: Supermarket carrots are usually quite clean. But the ones you get from the farmer’s market may be dirty. Don’t let the carrots sit covered in soil. The soil may still be humid and make the carrots go bad faster. It will also make it harder to detect bad carrots. Additionally, vegetables covered in soil will create a mess whether you store them in the fridge or in the pantry.
Also, the farmer’s market’s carrots often have greens on them. Remove them too before storing the carrots.
How to Store Cooked Carrots?
Store cooked carrots in the fridge in an airtight container. If the carrots are freshly cooked, make sure to let them cool off before you transfer them into the fridge.
How Long Do Carrots Last?
Carrots stored in the pantry or any room in the house where it is cool will keep well for around 5 days.
The shelf life of carrots stored in the fridge ranges from 14 to 30 days depending on how you do it. Carrots refrigerated in a plastic bag will keep well for around 2 weeks. The wet paper towel, on the other hand, makes carrots keep well for 3 weeks.
Carrots stored in water stay fresh for up to 30 days so long as you keep changing the water to refresh the carrots.
Cooked carrots refrigerated in an airtight container have a shelf life of 3 to 5 days. However, the sooner you eat them the better they will taste.
Uncooked peeled carrots also have a shelf life of 3 to 5 days.
How to Extend the Shelf Life of Carrots?
There are many things you can do to extend the shelf life of carrots.
Freezing is the easiest and the least time-consuming way of doing it. Dehydrating carrots is the second-best option for those who want to make the least effort when making the carrots last longer.
Other options include making carrot jam or canning carrots.
If you have too many carrots, no room in your fridge, and no dish ideas that call for large amounts of carrots, there is good news for you. You can freeze carrots.
What you should know about freezing carrots is that you should never freeze raw carrots as doing it will cause major texture changes. Freezing raw carrots makes them soggy.
To successfully freeze carrots you should blanch them first. Doing this will not only help you prevent texture changes but also kill any harmful bacteria that is in raw carrots and that can make them go bad sooner.
To freeze carrots, you should first prepare them. Cut the ends of the carrots off and peel them. Cut the carrots into pieces of your desired size.
Blanch the carrots, i.e. put them in boiling water for around 2 minutes. Once you take the carrots out of the boiling water, transfer them into an ice bath. This step is important as doing this helps to maintain the bright color and the crunchiness of the carrots.
Blanched carrots retain some of their crunchiness. If this is something you don’t need with frozen carrots, you can go ahead and cook them through.
Once blanched, drained, and dried, lay the carrot pieces on a tray lined with parchment paper and freeze. This is done to freeze each carrot piece individually to prevent them from sticking to one another. You can skip this step if you are short of time.
The frozen pieces of carrots should be transferred into an airtight bag or container. Freeze the carrots in portions for easy thawing.
Frozen carrots will keep well for 12 to 14 months. If you want the maximum flavor, use the carrots as soon as you have a chance to incorporate them into your dishes.
To dehydrate carrots, wash them, peel, and thinly slice or shred them. Blanch the carrots for around 3 to 4 minutes. Don’t forget about the ice water bath.
Once you remove the carrots from the water and drain them, spread them on a dehydrator tray. You can also use the oven to dehydrate the carrots. In this case, make sure to keep the temperature of the oven as low as possible, around 125°F, and leave the oven door half-way open to prevent the carrots from roasting.
It will take around 8 hours to dehydrate the carrots. There shouldn’t be any moisture left in them.
Dehydrated carrots will keep well for around 12 months if stored in a tightly sealed jar in a cool and dry place.
If you skip the blanching process, the carrots will be good for 3 months.
Signs That Carrots Have Gone Bad
You shouldn’t throw the carrots away as soon as you see one black spot on them. As long as you can remove it, the carrot is good to use.
However, if there are too many spots on the carrots, it might be an indicator of the fact that you have either not stored them properly or the carrots are past their ‘expiration date’.
Moldy carrots should be discarded immediately. Bad carrots may also feel slimy to touch.
Another sign that your carrots have gone bad is the smell. It should be noted, however, that you are likely to see the spoilage sooner than you will smell it.
Even if your carrots seem to be okay, with no mold, dark spots, or off-odor, they will start getting soft with time. Soft carrots don’t work for many dishes.
If you think that the carrots are still good to use and you can get over the fact that they are not as crunchy anymore, you can use them.