It goes without saying and is a no-brainer that since broccoli is a vegetable, it can and does go bad (unfortunately).
But, if my curiosity is anything to go by, I know you still have many more questions relating to broccoli to ask. For instance, do they need to be in the refrigerator?
I have cooked a meal and still have some broccoli leftover, how do I store it? My broccoli has turned yellow, is it still safe enough for me to eat and cook with? How can I even tell if my broccoli has gone bad?
As always, I have got your back and, in this article, I shall endeavor to cover and answer most, if not all your questions and queries.
Just keep reading and you will thank me later at the end of the article once you have all the information that you need.
When properly stored, broccoli can last about 3 to 5 days in the fridge, it does not matter whether it is cooked or raw. Chopping up the broccoli reduces this storage period to just 2 days.
How Can You Tell When Broccoli Is Bad?
One of the most basic, easiest, and fastest ways to tell if your broccoli has gone bad and if it is still safe to consume, is to start with the smell coming off of your broccoli. Generally speaking, broccoli does not have a scent per se when they are fresh.
However, when broccoli is going bad, one of the first things that you will notice from them is a smell that tends to increase over time. This smell starts off as a sort of moldy smell but gradually over time, it becomes a rotten smell.
Remember how either your freshly picked broccoli or freshly store-bought broccoli felt when you touched them when you had just gotten them?
They are very firm and the stalk on the broccoli is extremely crisp. When they start to or have gone bad, you will notice some structural problems.
They will become limp in your hand. Moreover, spoiled broccoli will lose its crisp feel and become soggy to the touch.
Initially, broccoli is always deep green in color, a color which slowly fades as the broccoli matures (it goes from deep green to light green then to yellow, and so on) If you look at your broccoli and notice a change in the color then the broccoli is either starting to go bad or is already spoiled.
An easy way to tell that the broccoli you have is bad is when the stalk of the broccoli and the overall vegetable begin to change from green to yellow.
Although this yellowish broccoli is not automatically spoiled to the point of not being able to consume it, it usually tastes awkwardly bad even after cooking it. For this reason, you’re your broccoli is yellow in color, you can throw it away.
Another way or method that you can use to tell whether your broccoli is good to be eaten or going bad is by paying attention to its buds.
If you touch them and happen to notice that they are slippery or slimy when you touch them, they have probably gone bad. Similarly, any sight of holes appearing on the broccoli and wilting of the broccoli is a sign of spoilage.
I know you have probably come across some purple broccoli in the store and are wondering if they are okay. Well, they are as good as their green counterparts, healthy and safe to eat.
The key point for us to remember is that healthy and fresh broccoli tends to be green in color, it smells fresh and okay and is crispy to the touch.
If your broccoli has neither of these characteristics, trash it immediately.
How to Store and keep Broccoli fresh.
Additionally, to storing your broccoli in a resealable plastic container, there are two more ways that you can use to keep them fresh for longer.
You can choose to completely skip the resealable plastic bag or container and just loosely wrap your broccoli in a damp kitchen towel before putting it in the refrigerator.
This provides a healthy and moist surrounding for your broccoli that also allows it room to breathe.
It is important that you do not wash the broccoli in advance (this is because it will add moisture and as we know, too much moisture encourages the growth of mold on food items). Only wash the broccoli right before you are to use it.
Another less commonly known method is to treat your fresh broccoli like it is a beautiful bouquet of flowers, just put them in a vase of water. All you need to do is fill a jar, glass, or jug with a little bit of water.
Put the broccoli into the water with the stem going in first to allow the ends to be submerged in the water.
After this place, the jug, glass, or jar in the refrigerator, and do not forget to change out the water every single day.
Shelf Life of Broccoli
When stored at room temperature, freshly picked broccoli (from your own garden or fresh from the farmers market) can last for approximately three to five days.
Let us note that it is generally better to have the broccoli picked while it is completely dry as that will help to prolong its shelf life. It is definitely not recommended to store broccoli at room temperature.
If the broccoli is stored properly in the refrigerator, it can last anywhere between seven and fourteen days.
This freshly picked broccoli (from your garden) can last about ten to fourteen days in the refrigerator (of course, this is assuming that the broccoli was completely dry when it was picked).
Store-bough broccoli on the other hand will generally last between seven and ten days in the refrigerator.
When broccoli is frozen in the proper manner, it can last between three and eight months. Broccoli that is fresh picked or from the farmers market will need to be blanched first.
Always ensure that when you buy already frozen broccoli from the store, that you check the expiration date printed on the label or packaging by the manufacturer.
The shelf life of cooked broccoli that is stored properly in the refrigerator is between six and nine days at most (assuming of course that it was well prepared and the dish was not mixed with other food items).
This cooked broccoli should always be stored in a resealable air-tight plastic container.
What Happens When You Eat Bad Broccoli?
In order to reduce the risks of illness involved in eating spoiled or rotten broccoli, as with every other food item, always ensure to thoroughly clean your broccoli with clean running water before eating or using them in a recipe and, always store them properly and appropriately in the fridge or pantry or freezer (depending on your liking).
Eating spoiled or rotten broccoli can bring about the same effects on your body as eating or consuming any other food item in the house or kitchen that has gone bad.
Since medical symptoms tend to vary from individual to individual and case to case, you could experience symptoms ranging from a mild upset stomach to getting much more severe symptoms like being very ill with food poisoning and experiencing nausea, high fever, and even diarrhea.
If your symptoms are severe, for instance, if you have been having diarrhea for more than two day and are subsequently dehydrated or if you have a fever exceeding the usual thirty-seven degrees Celsius, you should ensure that you seek medical attention as soon as possible to avoid any dire consequences.
Can You Freeze Broccoli?
The best way to make broccoli last much longer is definitely by freezing the florets and stems. But before you freeze the broccoli, you need to follow a few steps, which are:
- Thoroughly wash the broccoli in clean running water. After which you can cut up the broccoli into smaller pieces.
- Blanch, or boil the vegetables in boiling water for approximately 3 minutes.
- Immediately after blanching the broccoli, remove them from the boiling water after the 3 minutes above and submerge the broccoli in a cold ice bath. This stops the cooking process.
- Drain the broccoli and pat dry as best as possible. This is to ensure that you remove all the excess moisture from the broccoli. When done, place the dried pieces of broccoli on a tray lined with parchment or baking paper.
- After laying them out, place the broccoli in the freezer for approximately forty-five minutes to an hour. This will ensure that the broccoli begins to freeze but they do not clump together.
- Once the above has taken place, proceed to place the frozen broccoli in a tightly sealed resealable plastic bag.
If you follow these steps to freeze and store your broccoli, they can easily be added to any meal or dish that you are preparing.
Although this freezing process usually destroys the broccoli’s structure causing it to be mushy when thawed, the appropriately frozen broccoli will last for up to one year.