You’ve bought beets on a sale and need them to last as long as possible. That’s when you wonder: how to store beets so they stay fresh?
Maybe you’re not sure if you should refrigerate your beets or if a basket in the pantry is good enough. Or if letting them sit at room temperature for more than a day or two is even an option.
If either one sounds like you, this article is what you’re looking for. Here’s what we’re going to cover:
- storing beets at home (no, I’m not going to suggest storing beets in sand or peat moss)
- storage time depending on where you keep them
- signs that your beets are done for and should be discarded
- a few tips on choosing the best beets in the supermarket or farmer’s market
Interested? Let’s dig in.
How To Store Beets At Home
Store your beets in a ventilated bag in the veggie drawer in the fridge. Before you put them in there, trim the greens. Cooked beets and any leftovers should go in an airtight container and into the refrigerator as well.
Beets prefer cold (32-40°F or 0-5°C) and moist (90 to 95 percent relative humidity) storage ([UOM]). While the crisper drawer isn’t the coldest place in the fridge, it’s the most humid one, and that’s why it’s the optimal choice.
If your veggie drawer is full of broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes, and other veggies, put the beets on one of the shelves. It’s not that big of a deal.
But before you refrigerate your beets, trim the greens to like half an inch ([UOM]). In supermarkets, the greens are often already cut (to extend the shelf life of beets), so that might be done for you already.
If you want to use the greens (they’re perfectly safe to eat), store them separately. Otherwise, they’ll draw moisture from the root (the part that you eat). If you store radishes or carrots for an extended period, you probably know that already.
When it comes to storing these root veggies, a perforated plastic bag is probably the best option. It helps retain moisture but doesn’t trap water. If you don’t have one on hand, poke some holes in yours, or leave the top open.
If you have a root cellar or an unheated garage that maintains a reasonably low temperature, you can keep your beets there. They probably won’t last as long as they would in the fridge, but it’s still a much better option than leaving them in the kitchen cupboard.
Do you have to refrigerate beets?
Technically speaking – no. Beets keep for a few days at room temperature, but that’s about it. If you need them to last longer, the fridge is the way to go.
How Long Do Beets Last?
Beets last 2 to 4 weeks in the crisper drawer in the fridge and 3 to 5 days at room temperature. Once you cook them, consume the leftovers within 4 to 5 days.
The storage period for fresh beets is pretty wide because of a few reasons:
- in cold months beets tend to last longer than in the summer
- storage time depends on the quality of the beets you buy (more on that in a moment)
- the better the conditions in your fridge and the better you take care of the veggies, the longer they will last
You already know how to store beets so that they stay fresh as long as possible.
Now it’s time for the last piece of the puzzle – choosing the best beets available. Here’s how:
- If your beets still have the greens attached, choose ones with fresh greens. Wilted greens mean the beets are a bit old already.
- If there’s no greens, make sure the bulbs are firm to the touch. Soft bulbs with wrinkly skin mean old beets that won’t last more than a couple of days.
- Choose beets smaller than 3 inches in diameter. Ones larger than that are often fibrous and woody ([UOI]), none of which makes a pleasant eating experience.
When it comes to cooked beets, it’s like with pretty much any other cooked veggies – they keep for about 4 to 5 days in a sealed container in the fridge.
How To Tell If Beets Are Bad?
Discard your beets if:
- There’s mold or any fuzziness in cooked beets. I’m pretty sure that’s self-explanatory.
- Cooked beets sit in the fridge for more than 5 days. Leftovers don’t last forever. Throw them out even if they seem alright after those five days.
- Fresh beets start to rot or go moldy. As usual, you can cut out a small bad spot, but if the issue has already spread and taken over, it’s time to get rid of those root veggies.
- They’re soft, shriveled, or the skin is super wrinkly. At this point, beets have lost a lot of water, and cutting or grating them will be a pain. If they’re only slightly on the softer side, you can still eat them.
Spoilage of veggies isn’t hard and fast science, and there’s some wiggle room in most of the points above.
It’s up to you if you cut off a third of a beet that’s starting to rot or if you trash it. Same with beets with wrinkly skins and soft ones.
In such cases, go with what you’re comfortable with. If you don’t feel jazzed about those old soft beets, it’s better to let them go. But if you’re like me and you don’t mind, get the most out of them.
- Store beets in a ventilated bag in the crisper drawer for 2 to 4 weeks. Cooked beets should be sealed well and sit refrigerated for no longer than 5 days.
- Leaving beets at room temperature is good enough if you’re going to eat them within a few days.