How long does broccoli last?

Like other veggies in the produce aisle, broccoli doesn’t have any kind of “Best by” or “Use by” date. So you need to know yourself how many days will it last and how to store it so it lasts as long as possible. In this article we will cover storage options, shelf life and spoilage of this rich source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese.

Broccoli on a steamer
Photo by liz west on Flickr.

How to store broccoli?

Even though fresh broccoli isn’t usually stored in the refrigerated section in the store, most sources suggest it should be kept in the fridge after buying. If you plan on using it the same day you’ve bought it, or the day after, leaving it on the countertop is usually fine. If you intend to cook with it later, fridge is indeed the best place to store fresh broccoli.

When it comes to cooked broccoli, similarly to fresh one, it should be stored in the refrigerator. Once it cools down, transfer it to an airtight container or resealable bag (so it doesn’t catch any odors) and put into the fridge.

For completeness sake it’s worth reminding you that frozen broccoli has to be stored in the freezer.

How long does broccoli last?

Fresh whole broccoli, if stored in the fridge, should last there for at least a week. Sometimes it might remain good even for two weeks, but that happens rather rarely. You don’t know how long that broccoli was stored in the store, so it’s difficult to estimate how long will is last in the fridge. It’s always better to err on the side of caution. If you’ve chopped raw broccoli, it will last only a few days, so doing that a few days before you need it makes no sense.

For cooked broccoli, it usually stays good for between 3 and 5 days. Its quality will degrade quite quickly, so it’s always better to eat it sooner than later. You can also freeze cooked broccoli. Once it cools down, transfer it to an airtight container or freezer bag, label it and put into the freezer. It should it used within a year of freezing for best quality.

Broccoli on the stove
Photo by cyclonebill on Flickr.

How to tell broccoli is bad?

Color is the first thing that changes once broccoli is after its prime. First it becomes bright green and later turns yellow. Yellow broccoli isn’t necessarily spoiled, but its taste after cooking is quite bad. So if the florets are yellow, just throw it away.

Another thing to check is smell. When broccoli starts to go bad, the smell intensifies. If the odor is really bad, just discard it.

Last thing to check is the texture. If the stalks are limp, the internal texture change is already quite significant and the best you can do is to toss it out.

In short, if broccoli looks alright: green, okay smell and crisp texture, it’s most likely edible. If any of the three factors are off, it’s safer to discard it.

Can you freeze broccoli?

Yes, you can. Freezing uncooked broccoli is like freezing almost any other veggie. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Wash, remove leaves and stems
  2. Split into florets and stalks, then to smaller pieces (so it’s ready for the meal it’ll go into)
  3. Boil a pot of water and prepare an ice bath
  4. Plunge broccoli pieces into boiling water – larger pieces for up to 4 minutes, smaller ones between 2 and 3 minutes
  5. Chill broccoli in the ice bath for 1-2 minutes
  6. Drain the pieces and pat them dry
  7. Transfer broccoli into containers or freezer bags and label those
  8. Put everything into the freezer

Please note that frozen and defrosted broccoli works best in dishes like stews or casseroles.


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