How to Tell if Beets are Bad

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Beets are a root vegetable used in various ways, such as a side dish or as part of a salad. They are packed with several nutrients, including high amounts of potassium, iron, magnesium, and vitamin C. This article will cover how you can tell if a beet is bad and common questions surrounding its storage.

Signs That Beets Are Bad

There are several signs that beets are no longer safe for consumption, such as the smell, appearance, and texture.

Rotten Smell

One of the most obvious signs that beets have gone bad comes from the smell. Normally, beets should smell earthy and fresh. When they have gone bad, beets will often have a rotten smell. If this occurs, you should immediately dispose of them. However, sometimes bad beets may not smell rotten. Instead, they might smell unpleasant or overpowering, indicating that they are no longer fresh.

Soft Texture

Similarly, the texture of beets strongly indicates how fresh they are. Fresh beets usually feel hard and may sometime appear wrinkled. This is caused by a lack of moisture but does not necessarily indicate that they have gone off. Like carrots, another root vegetable, beets are usually firm when fresh and feel as hard as a tennis ball. Instead, when they are bad, beets will feel soft. Slightly soft beets should be used within a maximum of two days. Any beets with a texture similar to a tomato have already gone off. If you notice bruises or wrinkles and the beets feel soft, you should not consume these beets.

Visible Mold

Usually, beets will appear a reddish-purple color with green leaves. However, other varieties may appear golden, white, yellow, or other colors. The stronger the beets’ color, the more nutrients they have. Like other vegetables, beets can become infected with mold or rot, which will be visible on the surface. This mold may appear white, green, or blue. If you notice these signs, you should immediately dispose of the beets. Although some suggest you can cut off the moldy part, the mold has likely spread across the beet, which makes it no longer safe to eat.

Bitter Taste

The final indication that beets have gone off is the taste, but you should only take a small bite if you’re unsure about their freshness. Beets have a sweet flavor with hints of earthiness or floral taste. They taste similar to spinach. However, if you notice that the beets taste bitter or dry, this indicates that they have gone off.

How to Tell If Cooked Beetroot Is Off

The signs that cooked beets are off are similar to bad, raw beets.

Unpleasant Smell

Like the fresh kind, cooked beets should have an earthy smell, similar to soil. However, if you notice that they smell unpleasant, it indicates they are bad.


Similarly, you may notice mold patches on cooked beets, meaning they have gone off. Cooking them will not make the beets safe to eat, so you should dispose of them.

Longer Storage

Once you cook beets, you should only store them in a refrigerator for a few days or a maximum of 6 days. After this time, you should dispose of them regardless of how they may appear, as they are highly likely to be off.

Do Uncooked Beets Need to Be Refrigerated?

Yes, uncooked beets should be refrigerated to maintain their freshness. The optimum location for them in the fridge is the bottom drawer, also known as the crisper drawer. This place is slightly more humid than the rest of the refrigerator. Before storing them, you should cut off the stem, leaving approximately two inches of it. You should also avoid washing them because the moisture can cause them to go off.

What Happens If You Eat Bad Beets?

Eating bad beets can have some side effects similar to food poisoning. These include:
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Flatulence
  • Bloating
These symptoms will usually appear a few hours after consuming bad beets. However, in some cases, you may not experience any symptoms. Are Soft Beets Safe to Eat? This depends on how soft the beets are. If they are mostly firm with a slight softness, they are safe to eat, but you should consume them within a day or two. If they feel soft like a tomato, they have gone off completely, and you should immediately dispose of them.

How Long Do Beets Last in the Fridge?

The shelf-life of beets inside the fridge depends on how you store them and whether they have been cooked. 
  • Once cooked, you should refrigerate them within two hours. They will last up to 5 days.
  • If you store them raw, they can last up to two months. 
  • If you keep them in the freezer and they are properly stored, they can last up to a year.

How Long Do Beets Last Out of the Fridge?

It is recommended that you keep beets in the refrigerator to maintain their freshness. However, if you choose to keep them out of the fridge, they may last only a few hours. This is because room temperature is often ideal for bacteria to multiply. These vegetables will quickly spoil if they are not refrigerated. However, it is also possible for you to pickle beets. If canned and stored correctly, pickled beets can last over 18 months.

How to Store Beets

There are several ways to store beets that will help prolong their shelf life.
  • If refrigerating them, you should place them inside an airtight container or use plastic wrap/aluminum foil to cover them.
  • If freezing them, you should wash them and cut off the leaves. Then, cook them in boiling water for approximately half an hour before placing them in a bowl of cold water. Peel off their skins cut them, and place them into a freezer bag.
  • Alternatively, if you have a root cellar, you can use sand, peat moss, or sawdust to cover the beets and keep them fresh.

To Sum Up

Beets are versatile vegetables that can make a delicious addition to any meal. Depending on how you store them, they may be fresh to eat for up to a year. However, if you notice any mold, rotten smells, or very soft textures, then it is likely the beets are no longer fresh.