Slimy Carrots – Are they Safe to Eat?
Slime often indicates the initial stages of spoilage – but this doesn’t mean that the carrots are safe to eat! Slime on carrots is a clear indication of a bacterial infestation.
When bacteria compromise the outside of the vegetable, they produce compounds that accumulate and result in slime.
Slimy carrots, are they safe to eat? Slimy carrots are not safe to eat because they have already been contaminated by bacteria. Removing the slime will not work either because the bacteria might have compromised the carrots from the inside. We recommend that you discard slimy carrots and avoid eating them.
Read below to learn more about how slime forms, how to increase the shelf life of carrots, and how to spot signs of spoilage.
Slimy Carrots – What is it?
Slime is usually a byproduct of bacteria. Fruit and vegetables contain sugars, carbohydrates, and other nutrients that are not only beneficial for us, but they are also very attractive to bacteria and yeast.
Improperly stored vegetables, especially carrots that inherently have quite a lot of sugar in them, can go bad within days in the fridge.
The main culprit behind this spoilage is usually moisture.
Moisture is what promotes bacterial growth, and even in cold temperatures, like that of your fridge, bacteria can thrive and flourish if the conditions are right. But how does this happen?
Aren’t we taught that bacteria can’t survive at lower temperatures? Well, not exactly.
Although lower temperatures do have a protective effect on food, temperatures of around 40F only slow down bacterial growth instead of just halting it.
Bacteria have evolved to be quite resilient to their environment!
It is thought that the overuse and misuse of antibiotics, antibacterial products, and storage practices have allowed bacteria to evolve and be much more resilient – but thankfully, bacteria can still be avoided if you follow a few simple storage best practices.
Bacteria flourish between room temperatures, which in the USA is around 68F-72F. So, if you leave vegetables outside, then you are basically condemning them to a bacterial invasion.
The truth is that bacteria are all around us, and there is no way to hide from them as they are an integral part of our ecosystem. Once they contaminate food, they can double in population every 20 minutes.
Why Carrots Turn Slimey
Here are the top factors that affect the quality of food, especially susceptible vegetables like carrots:
Despite the hardened texture of carrots, they are quite easy to contaminate because of their composition. As mentioned above, carrots contain water, sugar, and carbs – all in abundance!
This means that if they are exposed to more moisture inside the fridge, then they will likely start to develop a thin slimy film within just 48 hours.
Most modern refrigerators are designed to keep moisture away, but the fact is that eliminating moisture is nearly impossible in a household setting.
The simple act of closing and opening the fridge door can cause water molecules to condense over food.
You can even do a quick experiment to see how this works!
Put a glass of water on the door shelf of your refrigerator.
Let the glass cool down and then open the door for 1-2 minutes, which is the average time a person leaves the fridge door open.
Now check the glass near the door, you will likely notice condensation on it.
This happens when the warm air is mixed with the cold surface of the glass. The water molecules quickly condense and a thin layer of moisture is formed over the surface.
The same concept also applies to vegetables. When you keep vegetables near the door or at the front, then they are likely to accumulate moisture – and the thing is, you might not even immediately notice this!
But this very thin layer of moisture provides the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to grow.
The other reason why carrots can grow slime is that they are usually kept in bulk. This is by far the biggest mistake when it comes to food storage.
Storing vegetables in bulk usually leads to overcrowding.
When vegetables are stacked on top of others, the bottom ones are likely to go bad first.
The reason why this happens is that the bottom vegetables don’t get enough air. Refrigerators work by blowing cold air around food which usually has a drying effect.
This is primarily why vegetables and fruits shrivel up when stored in the fridge for too long.
However, if you overcrowd the fridge then you prevent this cold air from circulating the vegetables!
For example, the carrots on top will remain fine but the ones at the bottom will likely begin to accumulate moisture due to subtle temperature differences.
This problem is particularly exacerbated when the vegetables are left in the same place for a long time.
If you don’t move the vegetables around, then they will likely go bad faster! Moving them around allows air to reach the food evenly which can dry up extra moisture.
Tips for Preventing Slimy Carrots
Here are the top three ways to prevent slimy carrots:
Not washing the carrots before storage.
This is an extremely simple and commonly overlooked step. Most people have the habit of washing vegetables before storing them in the fridge.
They might do this to keep the fridge clean or free from dirt, but they end up doing more harm than good.
Storing wet vegetables is by far the quickest way to spoil them.
Wet vegetables can accumulate slime within 1-2 days!
Always store vegetables dry – or if you have to wash them, then please properly dry them with a clean and dry cloth. Leave the vegetables to dry outside for 1-2 hours and then store them in the fridge at 40F.
Storing the carrots in a separate bag.
Storage bags are an excellent way to lock out moisture and prevent excess air from oxidization.
A fridge bag is the best way to maintain the overall quality of fruits and vegetables.
The bag prevents air and moisture from coming in and also helps the carrots from shriveling up.
To get the most out of this method, we recommend that you store the carrots dry in the bag, remove excess air from the bag by squeezing it, and then close the top.
Keep the carrots away from the fridge door and store them at a constant 40F.
Keeping the carrots in the vegetable compartment (crisper drawer)
Every modern fridge comes with a built-in crisper compartment.
These compartments are separated from the rest of the fridge and provide less moisture and ventilation to keep vegetables fresher for longer.
Crispers may also have special vents designed to take out ethylene gas as this gas can speed up the spoiling process in food.
Use the tips above to increase the shelf life of the carrots to up to 4-5 days (or even up to a week).
Signs of Spoilage
Slimy carrots are bad news but they can also present with other signs of spoilage. Here is what you need to look out for:
Slime and Odor
Carrots can develop either slime that doesn’t give off a bad odor, or slime with a very bad odor. It is important to note that the carrots will be considered spoiled in both cases.
Regardless of odor, if you notice slime then it is best to avoid eating the carrots. The presence of a bad odor could mean that the carrots have completely succumbed to the bacteria.
Color or Texture Changes
This is another definitive sign of spoilage. If the carrots take on a varying color with a soft or mushy texture, then they should be discarded.
In many cases, a mushy texture will also present with a thick slime which would indicate that the bacteria have compromised the carrot from the inside and outside.
Mold or other Growths
Mold is caused by a fungal infestation – but fruits and vegetables are perfectly capable of growing both mold and bacteria at the same time!
This makes them extremely unsafe to eat.
If you see any white, green, or fuzzy growth over food with slime, then it is best that you discard the vegetables.
If you see slime on carrots, then it is best that you discard them right away! Now that you know all about slimy carrots and how to avoid them, here are some related questions:
What happens if I accidentally eat slimy carrots?
The best-case scenario is that nothing will happen.
But people with sensitive stomachs or a weak immune system might immediately fall ill.
Common symptoms of eating bacterial-infested food are diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and a slight fever.
If you suspect that you have accidentally consumed bad carrots or are showing symptoms, then we highly recommend that you speak to your primary health provider for medical assistance.
Does cooking slimy carrots kill bacteria?
Contrary to popular belief, boiling or cooking slimy carrots after washing them will have little to no effect on the vegetable’s ability to make you sick.
Even if the bacterial population is eliminated via cooking, the toxins left behind by the bacteria will likely survive – and they are more than capable of making you sick.
Please avoid working with contaminated food as the biofilm (slime) on the carrots can carry over to knives or other utensils, and you can end up contaminating other food.