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How to Tell if Carrots Are Bad: The Tell-Tale Signs and How to Properly Store the Vegetable

How they smell and feel might be signs they're no longer good

Whether you’re using carrots for soup, dipping them in hummus or ranch for a healthy snack, or simply roasting them as a side dish, these root vegetables are a good item to keep in your fridge. Similar to other produce though, carrots don’t last forever, and sometimes it can be hard to figure out if they’re still OK to eat. That’s why FIRST turned to the pros for their best tips on how to tell if carrots are bad. Keep reading for all the signs and how to properly store them.

How to tell if carrots are bad: 4 signs

The carrots are slimy

“When carrots go bad (or start to turn bad) they get soft and bendy and kind of slimy,” explains Vanessa Coffman PhD, director of the Alliance to Stop Foodborne Illness. Both store-bought and homegrown carrots get slimy when they’re past their prime. instead of peeling off the slimy layer, it’s best to toss them and pick up a new bag instead.

Carrots are bad if they have a smell

If you go to take carrots out of the fridge to cook with and the odor seems funny, get rid of them. Coffman notes that the smell will seem “off.” “They don’t smell rotten, but they’ve lost the sweet carrot smell from when they were purchased fresh,” she says. When they’ve been in there a while, it’s important to double-check before using them.

Carrots are bad if they are moldy

Moldy spots are an obvious sign that carrots are no longer edible. Anything that looks white or green and fuzzy means they should go right in the trash. Don’t try and cut off the moldy parts either as the bacteria is already spreading on the carrot.

Carrots are bad if they’re mushy

Carrots are the best when they’re firm and crunchy. However, you can still eat them if the texture is a little rubbery. Soft and mushy carrots are what you need to look out for. Bryan Quoc Le, PhD, food scientist, food industry consultant, and author of the book 150 Food Science Questions Answered says a key sign that carrots have gone bad is “textural softness that can’t be restored to its rigid texture after soaking in water.

Carrots can get dehydrated

Like all produce, carrots need water to thrive. When you notice a whitish blush anywhere on your carrots, don’t be so quick to dispose of them. “If carrots have a whitish-ness to them, you can put them in a bowl and cover them with water and they’ll return to being a beautiful orange carrot again,” explains Coffman. They’re drying out, but they’re still safe to consume.

How to store carrots so they don’t go bad

Carrots being stored in the fridge

Carrots should always be stored in the fridge. Ideally, they should be “kept as close to 40 degrees Fahrenheit as possible,” says Quoc Le. “The lower the temperature, the better because it will slow down the growth of microorganisms and the effect of their enzymes.”

Coffman adds that they should be kept away from raw meat and its juices. Also, peeled or cut carrots last two to three weeks while unpeeled ones last up to a month. “For anything that has a peel or a rind — once you remove that protective seal, oxygen gets to it and starts to dry it out,” says Coffman. “The peel preserves the moisture in the carrot.”

For more tips on food storage and safety:

How to Sharpen Knives at Home Safely + the One Thing You Never Want to Do with Your Knife

CDC Says Food Poisoning Is on the Rise — MDs Share 8 Kitchen Tricks to Keep You Safe

How to Make Food Last Longer: 5 Expert Tricks So Your Grocery Money Doesn’t Go to Waste

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