Many times, when we’re cooking, we can become overzealous. We start chopping up more fruits and vegetables than the recipe calls for, and we’re left wondering what to do with all the extras. When you’re stuck with leftover carrots, should they be stored in water?
Carrots should be stored in water-filled plastic bags or covered containers in the refrigerator, where they can remain fresh for up to a month. Wrapping the carrots in paper towels before storing them is another option. You should replace the water or paper towels regularly every few days.
In this article, I’ll reveal step-by-step instructions for storing carrots to keep them fresh and ready to eat for several weeks. I’ll also cover freezer storage if you want to keep those carrots fresh and edible for several months. Finally, I’ll provide you with a brief list of dos and don’ts for safe carrot storage.
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Storing Carrots in the Fridge: A Step-by-Step Guide
Not only can carrots be stored in water, but doing so is actually the best way to keep them fresh and crunchy if you plan on storing them in the refrigerator.
Don’t Pre-Wash the Carrots
When you’re cutting up and preparing fruits and veggies, washing them first is pretty much par for the course. With carrots, however, washing them before storing them can do more harm than good. Instead, always wait until right before you’re ready to use the carrots to clean them.
There are a few good reasons for this:
- If you’re wrapping your carrots in paper towels, washing them before storing them can add unwanted moisture that’ll dry them out much more quickly and can cause mold.
- Leaving small remnants of soil on them can help slow down their rate of decay.
- If you’re soaking them in water instead of using paper towels, washing them are entirely unnecessary anyway.
Cut Off the Greens
Although carrot greens — sometimes called fronds 1 — are both edible and tasty, you’ll need to cut them off if you’re planning on storing your carrots 2. You can trash them or keep them and sauté them, but you won’t need them in storage either way.
Determine Your Storage Method
At this point, you’ll have to decide if you want to store the veggies:
- In a covered container
- In a plastic bag
- Wrapped in paper towels and stored directly in the vegetable drawer/crisper of your refrigerator
All three methods are acceptable. It’s really a matter of space, available containers, and personal preference.
When storing carrots, you want a bowl that can hold enough water to submerge them completely. You’ll also want to cover them with something to keep out contaminants, but you don’t want to seal the container with an airtight lid either.
My favorite storage containers are the Elabo food storage containers. The inner basket is perfect for vegetables that need to be washed and drained, but the outer container is solid and holds water. They’re also perfectly sized for holding carrots. Check them out on Amazon here, Elabo Produce Storage Containers.
Lay the carrots flat in the container, then fill it with water until the carrots are completely submerged. Place them in the vegetable drawer with a paper towel on top to keep contaminants out of your veggies.
Check on them regularly, and change the water often if it appears to be getting dirty. On average, though, your water should be fine for about four to five days before needing a full swap.
If plastic bags are more your thing, you might want to check out VeggieZips Premium Produce Bags. I prefer using these for my green veggies like lettuce, cabbage, and spinach, but I’ve used them for carrots in the past, and they work incredibly well. They have hydro liners and keeps produce fresh longer. Check them out on Amazon, VeggieZips Produce Bags 3.
If you plan to use plastic bags, there are two options for storage. If you’re using bags that won’t seal completely or that has holes for aeration, wrap each carrot individually in paper towels before placing them in the bag. Then slide the entire bag into the crisper.
If you’re using plastic bags that can be completely sealed, you can place the carrots inside and then fill the bag with water so that they are fully underwater. Put the bag into the crisper with it lying on its side. Again, change the water every four or five days.
Directly Into the Crisper
If you don’t have a storage container or plastic bags handy, you can store your carrots directly in your refrigerator’s vegetable drawer. Put at least a double layer of dry paper towels on the bottom of the drawer 4. Then take even more paper towels and use them to wrap your carrots individually.
Once you’ve wrapped them securely, place them directly on top of the paper towels lying side-by-side in a row. Try to avoid stacking them if possible, and don’t forget to change the paper towels regularly.
Should Cut Carrots Be Stored in Water?
Another decision to make is whether you want to store your carrots whole or in pieces. Either way is fine. If you’re unsure which is best for you, think about the type of container you’ll use and how much space you have in your fridge. These are usually the most significant determining factors in whether to store your carrots whole or not.
If you’re storing cut carrots, it’s even more important to place them in water because they’ll dry out even more quickly than whole carrots.
The process for storing cut carrots is precisely the same as storing whole carrots. You can use covered containers filled with water, plastic bags, or wrap them in paper towels and store them directly into the crisper.
If you have several individual pieces of cut carrots, however, the paper towel method may be unpractical.
Storing Carrots in the Freezer: A Step-by-Step Guide
Carrots can also be kept fresh in the freezer if you know how to store them correctly.
A quick note about freezer storage: Carrots will last several months longer in the freezer than in the refrigerator, but even though they’ll still taste fresh, their appearance and texture will be slightly different after freezing them.
As with most veggies that you’re planning on putting in the freezer, you’ll first want to blanch your carrots 5. If cooking isn’t exactly your thing, “blanching” them is really just a fancy term for putting them in a large pot of boiling water.
A batch of whole carrots shouldn’t take longer than five minutes to blanch fully 6. Sliced and/or baby carrots should take even less time.
Drain Them & Store Them
After the carrots have been boiled, drain them and give them time to cool down. Then you can store them in zippered freezer bags or sealable containers like these 77L stackable freezer storage containers found on Amazon.
You may decide to store them in a vacuum sealed bag. The FoodSaver vacuum sealer is a popular brand and looks great on your counter. Amazon has a bunch of different kinds for affordable prices, vacuum sealers.
The Dos and Don’ts of Carrot Storage
There are a few things to remember if you’re hoping to keep your carrots fresh for as long as possible 7:
- Do change out your water and/or paper towels regularly.
- Do cover bowls or containers with something breathable to keep out contaminants.
- Do place them in the crisper, even if they’re in a container submerged in water.
- Do store them at temperatures ranging from 32° to 40°F (0° to 4°C).
- Don’t store them with fruits, especially pears, apples, and tropical fruits.
- Don’t store them with potatoes.
- Don’t store them with any fruit or veggie that releases ethylene gas 8.
- Don’t seal them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Don’t boil them unless you plan on freezing them.
Wrapping Up Carrots Stored in Water
In short, yes, you can certainly store carrots in water, whether they’re whole carrots, baby carrots, or cut carrots. In fact, storing carrots in water is the best way to keep them fresh and crisp in the refrigerator.
If you plan on storing the carrots in the freezer, however, storing them in water isn’t necessary, but you will want to boil them before freezing them.
Read Next – More Food Storage Articles & Ideas!
- Wikipedia: Frond
- Sweetwater Community Farm: Carrots
- Clemson Home & Garden Information Center: Using & Storing Carrots
- Seattle: Fruit & Vegetable Storage Guide
- Wikipedia: Blanching
- Michigan Fresh: Using, Storing and Preserving Carrots
- University of Minnesota Extension: Harvesting and storing home garden vegetables
- University of Maine: The Role of Ethylene in Fruit Ripening