How to tell that your beets have gone bad

Beetroots are very firm and hard when fresh. And like many root veggies, they can go for months without having any beets gone bad provided they’re stored in a cool and humid place.

Beets are great root veggies that I love to eat. I include them in almost all my meals and even my fruit drinks and smoothies. Since most of the time I buy pre-packed beets, when I go to the local grocery store I don’t know how to choose fresh beets. It has also been difficult to determine when my beets are going bad and what I can do to properly store them.

Beets gone bad

What to look out for in bad beets

  1. Beet texture

When beets are fresh they’re very firm just like carrots. After some time they get all wrinkly which is because they lack moisture or it’s a sign of beets gone bad and it’s time to throw them away. Sometimes beets can have a soft coat but fresh beets have a hard coat like a tennis ball. So if you notice your beets have a soft texture like a tomato, it’s most probably gone bad.

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When beets are soft are they still good?

The answer to both questions is it depends on the degree of softness. This means that if you have left your beets in a warm environment or room temperature for a few days you will notice the beets become a bit soft and wrinkled but they aren’t spoiled. However, if your beets are as soft as a tomato it’s advisable to throw them away.

If beets aren’t handled properly before and during storage they can go bad quickly so it’s best to store the beets in the fridge in an air-tight plastic bag.

  1. Beet smell

If you have ever eaten beets before you know that they have a distinctly pleasant earthy smell. It might be hard to base the freshness of food from their smell but it works. Beets may not have a rotten smell that will alert you that your beets gone bad but you might notice an unpleasant smell that doesn’t smell like the pleasant earthy smell of fresh beets. When it comes to this point you need to trust your nose and your gut. If you suspect the beets have gone bad just throw them away.

  1. Moldy beets

When food develops some mold some people think that by cutting out the part with the mold you can salvage the rest. However, food that has formed mold has spread and affected the food deeper than you can see on the surface so discarding the part you can see isn’t enough to make it safe to eat the rest. The spores and toxins have spread all over the beet before they are visible on the surface. Check if the other beets in the same plastic bag have developed any mold as mold spores spread easily and very quickly. If beets have developed mold don’t sniff or smell it because it can cause respiratory problems.

How to select beets

spoilt beets

Image: Adobe stock

When choosing the right beets go for firm beets with unblemished skin, deep red colour, and fresh green leaves that have no signs of wilting. Small beets tend to be much sweeter and tender while large beets have a hairy taproot which is a sign of its age and toughness. Look for fresh beets that have their leaf stems intact which ensure their freshness.

Check the beets firmness by pressing it. Firm beets are fresh but if you notice soft spots it could be because the beet is old or a sign of beets gone bad on the inside. Avoid very hard beets and those with blemishes. Buy beets whose taproots are fully intact and whose root isn’t damaged or broken, this can make the beets spoil quickly.

How to store beets

For you to store your beets properly, you first need to cut the leaves and stem at least 2-inches from the root to prevent the leaves from draining all the moisture from the root and prevents the colour from bleeding when cooking. As for baby beets don’t remove their leaves keep them intact.

Store the leaves in an air-tight plastic bag and use them within two days before they go bad. Place the beet root in a separate air-tight plastic bag and store them in the fridge for about 10 days to three weeks if stored properly. For the beets to have a longer shelf life, place them in a cool, dark, and dry place. You can also freeze cooked beets for several months. Avoid washing the beets before storage because this can speed up the rotting process.

You now know what to look for in beets and how to store them

You’re now in a better position of knowing what to look out for to check if your beets have gone bad. Also, you can better choose and store your beets to preserve their shelf life.Watch this for more information on how to tell if your beets have gone bad.

FAQ’s about beets going bad

How long are cooked beets good in the fridge?

If you properly store cooked beets they can last 3-5 days in the fridge. To give them a longer shelf life you can freeze them then put them in an air-tight container.

How long does canned beets last after being opened?

Canned beets that are constantly in the fridge can stay fresh 3-4 days after being opened. To prolong its shelf life after opening refrigerate in a plastic container or covered glass.

How can you tell if pickled beets are bad?

The storage time indicated for opened pickled beets is to make sure you get the best quality but once opened they change colour, texture or flavour. You can still consume them as long as they stay refrigerated, they have signs of spoilage, and the can isn’t damaged.

How long do beets stay good in the fridge?

You can store fresh beets and the greens in the fridge for 3-5 days. If you separately store the beets and its greens, you can store the beets for 2-4 weeks.

Can you eat soft beets?

Beets that are soft as a tomato are already spoiled and not good to eat. However, beets that are a bit firm but soft are still good to eat it only means they’re dehydrated.


A diet guru by day and an avid reader by night, Tim is a nutritionist based in the beautiful city of Ottawa, Canada. He loves everything to do with health and believes going the natural and organic way is a necessity. When not busy disapproving of people’s diet choices, you can find him taking online classes for this and that while waiting for his cheat day. Tim also loves white sandy beaches, swimming (anything aquatic, really), long drives to the countryside, and travels to new cities and states. He also loves DIY projects and checking out new restaurants with his girlfriend.

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