Carrots have been America’s favorite veggie snack for a long time. Baby carrots appeared for the first time in US supermarkets in 1989. They are now found in two forms: the ‘real’ baby carrots, removed from the ground before reaching full development, and ‘baby style’ cut carrots that were cut and peeled out of regular-sized carrots. The introduction of peeled baby carrots increased the national carrot consumption by 33%, generating sales of over $400 million per year. They are now among the most popular produce items in US supermarkets.
But there are more important things you should know about our star-veggie, things that have less to do with macro-economy and are more likely to impact your family’s health and nutrition. This is a brief guide meant to help you get the best out of your favorite healthy snack:
What is the Shelf Life of Baby Carrots?
Like any other vegetables, carrots start deteriorating from the moment they’ve been pulled out of the ground. In order to maintain their quality, they need to be stored in special conditions, with enough oxygen to let them ‘breath’ but cold enough to prevent spoiling.
Fresh, full-sized carrots should last about 4-5 weeks in the fridge if stored appropriately while baby carrots last for about 3-4 weeks stored at 33 to 40 degrees. Cooked, carrots should not be kept in the fridge for more than seven days.
Signs that Baby Carrots have Gone Bad
Skin is what protects carrots from invaders while also keeping the moisture and nutrients inside the root. Since baby carrots are lacking this important protection, they are more likely to be affected first.
Usually, one of the first signs is the appearance of the so-called “white blush” – tiny white dots that signal dehydration. This is a warning signal that your carrots should be consumed immediately or further deterioration will occur soon.
Next, the carrots become soft, they bend easily and it’s much harder to peel off their skin. These carrots should not be consumed raw, but cooked immediately.
When carrots start shrinking and become mushy, they are no longer appropriate for human consumption.
How to Store Carrots to Extend Their Shelf Life
When dealing with carrots you might be faced with a difficult situation: if you keep them in the plastic bag they came with, the moisture will accelerate their rotting. If you’re taking them out of the bag and keep them in the vegetable drawer of your fridge, in a few days they will start shriveling and go bad.
Some of the most popular tricks used to keep carrots fresh for longer are:
- Placing a paper towel inside the plastic bag to absorb any moisture that might accelerate rot;
- Perforating the bag to prevent the extra humidity from encouraging the growth of bacteria that leads to rotting;
- Removing the top of the carrot to prevent any leaf stub from drawing moisture out of the root.
However, a specifically designed storage container is the only guaranteed solution for keeping your vegetables fresh for a longer time without the extra hassle.
Fresher Pantry – Your Guide to Food and Beverage Shelf Life