Food preservation

How To Tell If Brussels Sprouts Are Bad

Brussels sprouts are known for their numerous nutritional benefits. They contain antioxidants, vitamins, fiber, and minerals, making them a great addition to any diet.

As their name suggests, Brussels sprouts originated from Belgium. They were first grown in the 16th century. Today, farmers all over the world grow them.

If you have stocked up on Brussels sprouts, you may be wondering how to tell if they are bad. 

A few apparent signs will tell you whether they have gone bad, including; color change, browning of the edges, fuzzy mold, slimy surface, sour taste, harsh smell, grey powder on the leaves, and shriveling.

This article discusses the various signs of spoilage in detail.

We will also discuss the shelf life of Brussels sprouts, storage, and freezing. Other than that, we will share a few tips on buying fresh Brussels sprouts.

Also, Check-Out: Substitute For Brussels Sprouts.

Signs That Brussels Sprouts Are Bad

To check whether Brussels sprouts are bad, look for the following signs;

  • Foul smell

Brussels sprouts should have a fresh, earthy aroma. If they have a foul or moldy smell, discard them.

  • Slimy surface

If your sprouts have a slimy surface, they have gone bad. Throw them out and buy fresh ones.

  • Mold

Fuzzy mold indicates that the Brussels sprouts have gone bad. Don’t try to salvage them. Discard them.

Also, Check Out: Do Chia seeds go bad? How long do Chia seeds last?

  • Browning edges

Check the leaves’ edges. If they are brown, the chances are that the sprouts have started going bad. You can either remove the outer leaves and cook the rest or discard them for quality purposes.

  • Black/brown stem bottoms

If you bought sprouts with the stems attached, check the stem bottoms. If they are brown or black, the sprouts are bad and should be discarded.

  • Grey powder on the sprouts

Check the leaves for grey powder. Its presence indicates the presence of fungus. Discard the sprouts immediately.

  • Shriveling

The sprouts should not appear shriveled, wilty, or soggy. If it does, the chances are that it has gone bad.

Brussels Sprouts Shelf Life


Brussels sprouts have a relatively short shelf life when stored at room temperature. They will only retain their quality for up to two days.

If you store them in the refrigerator, Brussels sprouts will last for up to seven days. In some exceptional circumstances, they may last for a few days longer.

Freezing is also an option if you want to extend their shelf life further. When frozen, Brussels sprouts will retain their quality for up to 16 months.

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How To Properly Store Brussels Sprouts


You can buy Brussels sprouts off the stem or attached to the stem. However, most times, retailers sell the ones with no stems attached.

If you buy Brussels sprouts with the stem attached, detach the heads from the stem and throw the stalks out.

The best place to store Brussels sprouts is in the refrigerator. I highly recommend placing them in a container that allows for unrestricted airflow. If possible, wrap the sprouts in a damp towel to retain as much moisture as possible.

Storing Brussels at room temperature is not ideal since their quality will deteriorate at a fast rate. However, if you plan to use them that same day or the day after, you can leave them on your kitchen counter.

Also, Read on: How to tell if Pistachios are bad.

Can you Freeze Brussels Sprouts?


As mentioned above, you can freeze Brussels sprouts to extend their shelf life. Freezing Brussels sprouts may take time, but it is worth all the trouble. Here is how to go about it.

The first step is to prepare the vegetables. Do this by trimming them and getting rid of the rough outer leaves.

Wash the heads thoroughly, ensuring you get rid of any dirt or insects, then divide them into groups of the big, medium, and small sprouts.

After doing so, you should blanch the sprouts. Boil some water in a saucepan, then submerge the heads in the boiling water. Blanch the big heads for 5 minutes, the medium ones for 4 minutes, and the small ones for 3 minutes.


Once blanched, move the heads to a saucepan filled with cold water. Doing this will ensure that the sprouts stop cooking. If you are freezing a big batch of Brussels sprouts, let them sit in the water until the water becomes somewhat warm.

Drain the water, then place the heads on a dry cloth and let them dry for approximately 20 minutes. Ensure the Brussels sprouts are completely dry before moving to the next step.

Portion the sprouts depending on how much you eat at a time, then transfer them to Ziploc bags or freezer-safe airtight containers. Place the bags or containers in the freezer for up to 16 months.

Tips on buying fresh Brussels sprouts 


Here are a few tips on buying fresh Brussels sprouts every time to get the best out of them.

If you have the option, buy Brussels sprouts that are still attached to the stem. 

  1. Most times, they last longer than those detached.
  2. Always inspect the leaves. Avoid the ones that are yellowish or brownish. Instead, go for the bright green ones.
  3. The sprouts should not have pits or cracks. Pits and cracks indicate mold growth.
  4. Always choose smaller sprouts. You’ll notice that they are sweeter compared to big Brussels sprouts.
  5. Try buying sprouts of similar sizes. This way, they will cook evenly, and you’ll have a better experience.
  6. Smell the sprouts. They should smell fresh and earthy. If their aroma is similar to that of cabbage, they are old. Don’t buy them.
  7. Only buy Brussels sprouts that are refrigerated. The ones displayed at room temperature are likely to go bad at a fast rate. They may turn yellow or wilt before you get the chance to cook them.
  8. Don’t buy puffy and soft sprouts. Go for the ones that feel compact and firm.

Summing up


Brussels sprouts are a healthy vegetable that everyone should consider incorporating into their diet.

If you are doubtful about whether the ones you bought are bad, check for the signs of spoilage discussed above.

If they have any of the characteristics, discard them and buy fresh ones. Use the tips we shared to buy fresh Brussels sprouts every time.

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