Beets bring a wholesome heartiness to any recipes they are added to. Unfortunately, these sturdy veggies don’t last forever, and sometimes, beet-lovers may find themselves throwing them away after just a few days of buying them, causing many to wonder – just how long do beets last? If that sounds like you, stick with us and we’ll tell you everything you need to know about beets’ lifespan.
Do Beets Go Bad?
Yes, as with all fresh vegetables, beets do go bad. Their shelf life, however, is determined by a number of factors including their quality, how they are stored, and how long they had been on display before you bought them.
Fresh, firm beets and those that haven’t been on the shelf for too long will obviously last longer and so will those stored in a cool, dry place.
When you cook beetroot, however, its lifespan reduces and as such, it should be stored in the refrigerator at all times. The same goes for beets in warm regions. If you live in tropical climates without air conditioning, your beetroot should stay in the fridge all the time.
How Long Do Beets Last?
Fresh, firm beets stored at room temperature will last for about four to five days. The veggies will not necessarily become unsafe to eat after this period but you will notice a significant drop in quality.
If you want your beetroot to keep fresh a little longer, place it in the refrigerator where you store the rest of your vegetables. The cold temperatures will slow down the spoilage process, enabling your beets to keep fresh, flavorful, and tasty for up to two weeks.
But sometimes you may want to keep some readily cooked beetroot on hand for spontaneous sides and salads. If that’s the case, you will want to store the beets in the refrigerator. Cooking reduces their lifespan considerably, and storing them in cold temperatures can help them last a little longer.
However, you should still plan to consume the beets within a few days because they will only keep fresh for about four to five days. Do not store cooked beets at room temperature unless you plan on eating them within a few hours. If you are concerned about food safety and like to err on the side of caution, do not eat beets that have been sitting out for more than two hours.
Below is a brief summary of beets’ shelf life.
Beets (Fresh or Cooked)
|Fresh||4 to 5 days||14 days|
|Cooked||2 hours max||4 to 5 days|
3 Tips to Tell If Beets Have Gone Bad
When it comes to beets’ spoilage, the telltale signs will be very similar to those of any other spoiled fresh vegetable. In most cases you will notice:
Any microbial growth on your beets is a sign that something is wrong, and mold is no exception. Though some people say that you can chop off the affected areas and use the rest of the produce, sometimes the mold goes too deep, spreading toxins all over the vegetable.
In most cases, the growth will have infested the inside of the vegetable by the time it shows itself on the surface. The best thing to do would be to toss out the entire vegetable.
2. A Change in Smell
When beetroot is fresh, it has a very distinct earthy smell. Beets that have gone bad may not necessarily give off a rotten smell but that original earthy aroma will not be as pleasant.
Trust your gut to decide what to do with the vegetables. If you can’t stand the odor, it is best to just get rid of them. But sometimes sniffing may not be enough in determining the fate of your beetroot especially if the vegetable is just beginning to rot. If that’s the case and you’re still questioning the integrity of your beets, check the skin as discussed below.
3. Soft or Wrinkled Skin
Fresh beets will usually be firm and succulent. If they start feeling soft to the touch, there is a high chance they are starting to rot. Get rid of them.
In the same vein, if you notice the skin has become wrinkly, inspect them for bruising. Cuts that run too deep can cause the vegetables to lose their moisture. If your beets have wrinkles and no signs of cuts, they are probably too old. However, if no other signs of spoilage can be spotted, you may still be able to eat your beets.
5 Tips to Store Beets
When you make your salad or smoothie, you want all your fruits and vegetables to be as fresh and flavorful as possible, and that includes your beets. Luckily, there are some tricks you can use to keep your beetroot fresh for your favorite recipes at all times. We have shared these below.
1. Do Not Wash Your Beets Before Storage
Moisture can cause your beetroot to go bad quickly. Thus, unless you have plenty of time on hand to allow the vegetable to completely airdry, avoid washing your beetroots before storage.
2. Cut Off the Tops
These draw moisture from the beetroot, making it soft and mushy prematurely. If you plan on using them later, make sure to store them separately so they don’t ruin the veggie. And as with the root, do not wash the greens before storage, as the moisture can cause them to rot.
3. Store Cooked Beets in the Fridge
Cooked beetroot has an extremely short lifespan. If you would like yours to serve you for more than just a few hours, put it in the refrigerator. Also, ensure it is tightly sealed so it doesn’t lose its flavor.
4. Put Beets in the Crisper Drawer
Beetroot will dry out if it’s not kept in a humid area. The crisper drawer is designed to create the perfect humid environment for vegetables, which is why it is the ideal place to store your beets.
The humidity present in this drawer comes from the veggies themselves as they lose moisture through evaporation. That’s why you should not put your beets in a plastic bag when chucking them into the drawer.
The bag prevents moisture from escaping, causing it to collect on the surface of the beetroot, which speeds up the spoilage process. If you don’t want your beets to stay loose, wrap them with paper towels or just line the floor of the drawer with paper towels instead.
5. Store in a Dry Area away From Heat
If you choose to store your beets at room temperature, choose a dry spot, away from the stove and other heat sources, as these can accelerate the rotting process.
The pantry or a cupboard in the kitchen would be a great spot. However, because of the constant fluctuation of temperatures in these storage areas, you should only store beetroot at room temperature if you plan on using it within a few days.
The Risk of Consuming Bad Beets
No one will eat spoiled produce intentionally, and beets are no exception. But if it happens without realizing it, it is unlikely that you will get sick. For example, if you eat a piece of beetroot with mold, chances are you will not experience any negative effects.
But some people are sensitive to mold and may develop signs of food poisoning such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach cramping. In some cases, these symptoms may also be accompanied by flatulence, bloating, and headaches.
If you have a sensitive digestive system, it’s best to steer clear of rotting or moldy beetroot. Most of the time, food poisoning symptoms will go away on their own but if yours last for more than two days, talk to your doctor.
Can You Freeze Beets?
Yes, you can freeze your beets to make them last longer. However, note that fresh beetroot does not freeze particularly well, as it tends to get soggy and mushy when defrosted. Cooked beets, on the contrary, freeze well and whether whole or sliced, they can stay fresh for up to a year if wrapped tightly.
To freeze cooked beets, start by cleaning them thoroughly to remove any dirt. Then, boil the beets for about thirty minutes or until they can easily be pierced with a fork. Once they are cooked, transfer them into a bowl with cold water to stop the cooking process. When they have completely cooled down, peel off their skins.
Next, chop the beets into small pieces, spread them out on a tray in a single layer, and freeze them. Once they are nicely frozen, put them into freezer bags and place them in the freezer for storage.
Here’s a video that shows you exactly how to freeze beets for long-term storage:
So, do beets go bad? The answer is yes. But as with many perishable foods, you can prolong the shelf life of your beetroot by refrigerating it, or even better, freezing it. Frozen beets can keep for up to twelve months. If your beets show signs of going bad, discard them.