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Does storing carrots in water help keep them fresh?

Your guide to keeping carrots fresh for as long as possible

Garden fresh carrots are delicious raw or cooked. Although carrots that are grown for early season harvest do not store as well, late season carrots can continue to improve for the first few weeks in storage. To enjoy the best flavor and freshness, you’ll need to follow best practices in both harvesting and storing carrots. Whether you plan on storing carrots in water or freezing them, here's your guide to keeping these versatile veggies crunchy and fresh.




15 minutes

What You Need

  • Watertight container

  • Garden fork

  • Dry leaves or straw

  • Plastic

  • Storage crates or boxes

  • Clean, damp sand

  • Boiling water

  • Plastic zippered bag

Clean carrots on a wooden cutting board
mali maeder / Pexels

Carrots store best if they fully mature in the garden

It is best to time the planting of carrots that you intend to store so they can fully mature in terms of growth and flavor before harvest. Here's how to time your carrot harvest:

Step 1: Check the “days to harvest” noted on the seed packet. That is the minimum number of days they will need to grow before the average first frost date in fall.

Step 2: Add 7 to 10 days to be sure that they have enough time in the case of an early frost.

Step 3: Count down the number of days to harvest. For example, if you plant on June 15, and the packet says 70 days to harvest, pull your first test carrots on August 24.

Step 4: Look for carrots that are well-shaped and have good color and taste. Carrots that match these criteria are ready to harvest, while underdeveloped carrots may need another couple days or weeks.

A pile of freshly harvested carrots
Viktor Sergeevich / Shutterstock

How to harvest carrots

When the carrots are ready to harvest, here's what to do:

Step 1: Loosen the soil along the row by inserting a garden fork straight down into the soil, a few inches away from where the shoulders of the carrots emerge.

Step 2: Gently rock the garden fork backward to lift the carrots out of the soil.

Step 3: Pull them up individually by their tops.

Step 4: Brush off the loose, clumpy soil.

Step 5: Remove the tops as soon as possible after harvest to minimize transpiration.

Step 6: Keep the roots out of the hot sun as you continue harvesting.

Person in a garden holding carrots
wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock

Carrots may be stored in different ways

There are several effective ways to store carrots and keep them fresh. For extended storage, they may be left in the ground for several months during cool fall and winter weather. Before a deep freeze sets in, carrots left in the ground should be insulated with dry leaves or straw and then covered with plastic.

Another long-term storage option is to dig them, remove the tops, and store them in a cool, dark location in large crates or boxes packed with clean, moist sand. Carrots that will be used within a month or so should be stored in the refrigerator.

whole carrots in a plastic bag
kariphoto / Shutterstock

Carrots will stay fresh in a plastic bag for a few days

If you plan to use them the next day or so, simply clean and store the carrots in a plastic bag. But beware their neighbors. Some fruits and veggies give off ethylene gas, which imparts a bitter flavor in carrots. The main ones you’ll likely have in the refrigerator would be apples or pears. If you place the fruits in the crisper, leave the bagged carrots on a shelf.

Carrots and carrot tops in water
Helen Kosareva / Shutterstock

Storing carrots in water keeps them fresh for up to a month

When carrots go soft or rubbery, it means that they have not been stored properly. In high humidity and cool temperatures, as you would typically find in your refrigerator veggie drawer, carrots should stay fresh and crisp for a month or longer. But sometimes even that doesn’t work as well as it should. A great way to ensure that they keep their crunchiness for as long as possible is by storing carrots in water. Here's how:

Step 1: Clean the carrots by removing the tops and wash them.

Step 2: Store the tops separately.

Step 3: Place the carrots into a watertight storage container, either vertically or horizontally, and cover them with cold tap water.

Step 4: Put a lid on the container and store it in the refrigerator for up to a month, changing the water twice a week.

Orange Carrots in a Brown Basket
Hana Mara / Pexels

Storing carrots in the freezer can keep them good for up to a year

You can definitely freeze carrots to keep them around for longer. Instead of buying a bag of frozen carrots, you can prepare your own frozen veggies from the comforts of your home. You'll also be using water with this storage technique, but the final destination will be the freezer. Here's how to freeze your carrots:

Step 1: After washing your carrots, cut the tops and peel the skin. You can leave your carrots whole, but slicing them or stripping them also works.

Step 2: Blanch your carrots in boiling water for 2 to 5 minutes. The bigger your carrot pieces are, the longer you'll want to leave them in the water.

Step 3: After your carrots cool, drain out the water and package them in a plastic zippered bag.

Step 4: Pop your carrots into the freezer.

Carrots are one of the most versatile vegetables in the kitchen. They are easy to grow in the garden, and taste great as an essential ingredient in a diversity of recipes. If you have an abundance of carrots, handle them properly and you will be able to enjoy their crunchy texture and fresh flavor for months.

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Mark Wolfe
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Mark Wolfe is a freelance writer who specializes in garden, landscaping, and home improvement. After two decades in the…
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