Broccoli, like most fresh vegetables, sells without a product or an expiration date. Since the average broccoli head is too big for one meal, you will often have some leftovers. Therefore, you can ask yourself does broccoli go bad and how long does broccoli last? Let’s see.
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Does Broccoli Go Bad?
Broccoli is a type of cruciferous vegetable, along with cabbage, kale, and cauliflower. It is rich in minerals, vitamin K, and antioxidants and has numerous health benefits, including cancer prevention. Still, like other fresh vegetables, it can spoil.
In general, you can eat withered broccoli, but it won’t taste the same, and it will lose its nutritional properties over time. That is why it is vital to buy the freshest products possible. If you know how to store it adequately, you can significantly expand its shelf life.
How Long Does Broccoli Last?
Once you buy fresh broccoli, you can keep it in your pantry or kitchen cabinet if you plan to use it soon. However, it will probably turn yellow after only two to three days.
If you want to use raw broccoli for smoothies, salads, or dips, maybe it is more practical to buy the veggie the day before and leave it in the pantry in the meantime. Otherwise, it is much wiser to place it in the fridge, thus avoiding its deterioration.
How Long Does Broccoli Last (Chart)
|Fresh||2 to 3 days||7 to 10 days||
Up to one year
|Unsafe||3 to 5 days||Up to one year|
|Cooked||Unsafe||2 to 3 days||
Up to one year
A whole broccoli head can stay in the fridge from 7 to 10 days, depending on its condition before purchase. Cutting the florets will shorten this period to about three to five days.
If you decide to cook broccoli and not use it all immediately, it is safe to store it in a fridge for 2 to 3 days. Never leave it at room temperature for more than an hour or two because pathogenic bacteria can develop in it.
5 Tips to Tell if Broccoli has Gone Bad
If you store broccoli for too long, it will lose its quality and nutritional properties. Plus, it can harm your health once it deteriorates. There are five signs that it is time to throw it away:
- Color – Fresh broccoli has a dark green color, which turns yellow over time. You can cut some yellowish florets in the beginning, but discard the whole head once it entirely turns yellow. Maybe it won’t make you sick, but it won’t taste good either.
- Smell – Broccoli contains a high level of sulfur. Once it starts rotting, you will feel a strong, unpleasant smell of rotten eggs even though it is in a closed container in the refrigerator. That is a sure sign it is not safe to consume.
- Texture – It is common for broccoli to become flabby after a while, but you can revive it by keeping it in water. However, it is not a long-term solution. Once noticing the florets become pale or slime, you should discard them since veggies have already started to rot.
- Mold – If you keep it for too long, both raw and cooked broccoli can develop mold. White mold threads or black and brown spots on florets mean that the vegetables are spoiled. Throw them away rather than to risk your health by partially removing mold.
- Stem – As long as the broccoli is fresh, its stalk is firm and green. If it changes color and becomes soft and gooey, it is time to buy fresh vegetables instead of spoiled ones.
How to Store Broccoli for Longer
As I have already mentioned, fresh broccoli doesn’t last long. If you don’t use it within a week after purchase, you can either freeze it or throw it away. Fortunately, several tips and tricks can help you preserve veggie freshness and quality longer than usual.
If you keep your broccoli on a shelf, try not to expose it to too much moisture since it can spoil quickly. Thus, avoid washing broccoli when you buy it, but rinse it under a stream of cold water just before cooking.
After a day or two in the pantry, broccoli can become limply. In that case, shorten the stalk and put it in a jar with water. That way, the vegetables rehydrate, and you can save it for another day.
Remember that yellow broccoli is not spoiled, but it has a bitter taste. If only the florets’ tips have started to turn yellow, cut off that part, and use the rest before the whole head changes the color.
Finally, store broccoli away from fruits, especially apples, pears, and bananas. Since these fruit types contain ethylene, it will speed up the broccoli spoilage process.
If you buy broccoli in a plastic bag and leave it in the fridge, you will notice drops of moisture that collect due to condensation. You need to allow the airflow to the vegetable to prevent it from going bad.
The old trick is to use a knife and poke a few holes in the bag near the florets. That way, you will extend its duration for about two to three days.
Plus, you can wrap your veggie in a damp paper towel and put it in a vegetable section. A so-called broccoli bouquet can stand in the fridge for a while when you keep it in a jar of water with submerged stalks.
Place the cooked broccoli in an airtight bowl before putting it in the fridge. Another method is to cover the bowl with aluminum or self-adhesive foil.
Use a cookie sheet to prevent the broccoli florets from crushing each other. Pre-freeze arranged blanched florets for a few hours, take them out, and transfer them to zip lock bags, airtight containers, or plastic bags before placing them in the freezer again.
If you freeze broccoli to prepare baby food, you need ultra-small portions. Use an ice cube tray, baby food trays, or cookie molds to freeze a few florets in each cube.
Plus, you can cook broccoli and make a puree. Dilute it before freezing with breast milk or formula to the desired density and freeze in small jars. You can also use plain water if you prefer that way.
Never thaw broccoli puree in the microwave to prevent losing its quality. Instead, leave it at room temperature overnight.
The Risk of Consuming an Expired Broccoli
Even though broccoli doesn’t have an expiration date, you can get sick if you eat it after it goes bad. Spoiled broccoli has an unpleasant taste, so you won’t want to eat more than a bite.
Consuming a large portion may cause food poisoning with symptoms that include mild cramps, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. In some cases, broccoli can get contaminated with pathogenic bacteria that can cause serious illness.
Unspoiled broccoli may also carry certain risks. The high fiber value can cause bowel irritation, while thiocyanate it contains makes a problem with the thyroid. As a result, you can have an issue with hypothyroidism and weight gain.
Lastly, broccoli has a high vitamin K value. If you take any blood-thinning medications, you should limit the portion and avoid daily consumption.
Can You Freeze Broccoli?
Broccoli is an indispensable part of many frozen veggies’ mixes. Therefore, you can freeze it, which is a great way to keep leftovers for up to a year. You can freeze both raw and cooked broccoli.
Keep in mind that raw broccoli can become gooey and change smell and taste once you thaw it. Therefore, it is better to quickly blanch it a few minutes before freezing.
Cut the florets and stalks and put them in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes. Then, transfer them to another vessel with cold water. Speed up cooling by adding some ice cubes in water.
Once it cools off, spread the broccoli out on a paper towel to dry well and use the airtight container or a zip lock bag to pack it. Make sure you expel all the excess air and write down the date before putting a package in the freezer.
Prepare broccoli the same way you cook any other dish. Divide the meal into smaller portions, place them in containers, and put them in a freezer.
Once you decide to use it, take a container out the night before and leave it in a fridge. You can also use a microwave to thaw broccoli.
However, there is no need to defrost it if you prepare the soup or a stew. Just throw the frozen broccoli in a pot and cook it for approximately ten minutes.
Many believe that broccoli is a superfood because it is extremely rich in nutrients. Unfortunately, it is sensitive to humidity, so it spoils quickly. You need to store it in the refrigerator or to freeze leftovers to keep your veggies fresh and healthy for eating.