Perhaps the most popular of all root vegetables, carrots are among the most commonly consumed veggies in America, according to the USDA.
Easily recognized by their cheerful shades of orange topped with leafy green foliage, their sweet taste and crisp crunch make them the preferred snack for many. Too often, though, we may find ourselves with an abundance of these favorite veggies and wonder, “How long do carrots last?” To understand the timeframe for a carrot’s freshness, let’s first take a look at some of its unique qualities.
All About Carrots
With skin rich in beta-carotene, fiber, and vitamin K1, fresh carrots have a built-in protective layer that helps preserve its freshness. Carrots are a root vegetable, meaning they grow and mature underground.
These hardy veggies also have a relatively long shelf life compared to other vegetables. Whole, fresh carrots can last 3-4 weeks in a cool, dry environment. Remember, the soil in which the carrot matures acts as a preservative, so don’t be in too much of a rush to scrub those fresh carrots clean of dirt right away.
Of course, carrots do need to be washed before they are eaten but leaving some dirt on the skin until it is time for them to be enjoyed can help extend its shelf life and seal in its fresh taste.
For clean carrots purchased from the produce section, don’t worry about peeling them right away, since the skin is a natural barrier against moisture and decay.
Keeping Carrots Fresh
As we mentioned, whole carrots can stay fresh for 3 to 4 weeks on their own. Baby carrots will not last quite as long, because they have been washed and peeled, removing their natural barrier. Baby carrots do not get their distinct shape naturally.
They are cut into their little cylindrical shapes and prepackaged for convenience. Typically, baby carrots will last around 2 or 3 weeks in the refrigerator. Their packaging will also have an expiration or sell-by date printed on it for reference.
Cooked carrots will last between 1 to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Just make sure they are in an air tight container.
Carrots can also be frozen. Make sure that fresh carrots are thoroughly washed and remove any foliage from their tops before freezing them.
Cooked carrots can also be frozen and placed in freezer storage bags. Frozen carrots can be preserved in the freezer for up to one year – just be sure to label them with the date before storing them away.
As carrots begin to age, they may start to get tiny white spots over their skin. This is called white blush. While it is safe to eat carrots exhibiting white blush, it does mean that decay is imminent. Make sure that the carrots are eaten or cooked that day.
Healthy carrots are crisp and can snap into two pieces easily. Carrots that are rotting will be soft and may have an unpleasant odor. If a carrot is smelly or soft, it is time to throw it out.
Written by Jason editor at Gardenlife Pro magazine – a great resource for gardeners.