Have you ever taken a bag of carrots out of the fridge, ready to enjoy, and...What the heck happened to them???
Is it safe?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
This article will help you determine when you can wash the slime off and still enjoy them, or when they should be tossed.
Why Carrots Get Slimy
Carrots are a wonderful, versatile vegetable. They hold up in storage for ages...until they don't. They get slimy.
Slime on carrots is most common in peeled "baby" carrots, and it can make a whole bag seem very unpleasant. Let's understand what it is, how to prevent it, and what to do if that ship has already sailed.
What causes carrot slime?
Carrot slime is caused by a build-up of bacteria on the surface of the vegetable. In short, they're starting to spoil.
This can happen for a few reasons, but it's most common when carrots are stored in an airtight container without proper ventilation.
The (naturally-occurring) bacteria on the surface of the carrot need oxygen to survive, so they start to break down the carrot in order to get it.
This process causes the slime.
Are Slimy Carrots Safe to Eat?
So, does carrot slime mean that you have to throw away the whole bag?
First of all, you have to understand the conditions and appearance of the slime. If it's just a little bit slimy and the carrots still look, feel, and smell normal, you can probably give them a rinse and use them.
However, if the slime is excessive or if the carrots have started to soften, change color, or smell bad, it's time for compost.
Can't I Just Wash the Slime Away?
If you just wash the slime away, you aren't confronting and dealing with the underlying problem: that bacterial growth in the carrots has gotten out of hand.
However, this is not to say that slimy carrots are always inedible. If your carrots have gone slimy, it may be possible to simply wash them off and use them immediately.
It may even be possible to move them to a new (non-slimy) container and put them back in the fridge.
Will the slime go away if I wash them?
No. The slime is caused by the bacteria dehydrating the cells inside the carrots. Washing them won't make this problem go away.
You can wash them every day, and the slime will keep coming back.
Our recommendation is to look for signs that the carrots have, in fact, gone bad. If there are none of these, you can wash them and use them.
But if they've spoiled, it's time for the compost heap.
Below are some tips to find that out.
Indicators - Your Carrots Have Spoiled
Your carrots have probably spoiled if they're slimy and:
- The color has changed
- There's mold growing on them
- They smell bad, particularly if they smell of bleach
- They are soft or squishy in parts
If they meet any of these criteria, you should probably not eat them.
Even if only part of the carrot is soft, you shouldn't eat it, because the bacteria could have spread throughout the carrot.
Slime vs Mold
Slime and mold are not the same thing. Slime is caused by bacteria, while mold is a fungus.
White mold often has a stringy, even "hairy" appearance, while slime (though sometimes white in color) is more of a film.
Mold can also be green or black, while slime is unlikely to appear in these colors.
However, both slime and mold can make your carrots inedible.
What About the White Film?
Maybe you're trying to wash the slime off your carrots, and you're surprised by a section of especially thick carrot slime with a while film. What's that all about?
It's not a problem. The white slime on carrots (mostly seen on "baby" ones) is caused by the same process that causes clear slime, but it's more visible on "baby" carrots because there's no skin to obscure it.
What about white spots?
Carrots can also get white spots. The white spots on carrots (and only on "baby" ones) are actually harmless – and they just appear because "baby" carrots have had the protective skin removed.
It's not a problem.
How to Avoid Slimy Carrots in the Future + Carrot Storage Tips
The key with storing carrots is to ensure proper ventilation.
The best way to store carrots long-term is in the crisper drawer of your fridge, in a loosely-tied plastic bag.
You can also store carrots in a water-filled container, as long as you change the water every few days.
Do not store them in an airtight container unless you will be using them within a day or two.
If you open a bag of "baby" carrots, don't keep them in the bag.
Pour them into a colander, wash them out, and then move them to a plastic bag or (if you're more environmentally-conscious) a ceramic bowl or other container that can go in your fridge.
You may want to open the bag of "baby" carrots immediately and wash them out if you're not going to use them in the next day or two. It's possible that they haven't been stored well by the manufacturer.
You probably found this article because you discovered that your carrots had gone slimy. Don't always wait for the last minute!
But here you are. Your carrots are slimy. That doesn't always mean they're bad, but it often does.
Store your carrots with good ventilation!