Today, I will show you exactly how to tell if broccoli is bad. This will help enable you to choose the freshest produce you can for the best texture and flavor. But it will also help you use what you’ve got in the best time frame.
Can Broccoli Go Bad?
For some reason, many people seem to think that broccoli has an exceptionally long shelf life. While I wouldn’t say it is highly perishable in comparison to leafy greens, mushrooms, and eggplants, it’s definitely not a vegetable that lasts as long as carrots, onions, and potatoes.
Brocolli (and all similar vegetables, like tender stem broccoli) have a high water content. The higher the water content of a vegetable (or fruit), the quicker it will spoil. That’s why berries go off so quickly!
Carrots, for example, have a water content percentage of between 86-89%. Broccoli has a minimum percentage of 90%.
So, if you were thinking of buying bulk broccoli on special or far in advance, just keep in mind, they are not onions! They will only last a couple of days before starting to show noticeable signs of spoilage.
How To Tell If Broccoli Is Bad
There are many signs that broccoli shows when it is going off. Unlike many other vegetables, broccoli actually lingers in the first stage for quite some time before showing other signs.
Yes, folks, we’ve all seen it, and you likely know exactly what I’m talking about. Broccoli that is no longer super fresh starts becoming yellow and shows slightly brown discoloring.
This is the first stage I talked about. It’s ALWAYS the first sign of spoilage, and it is very easy to see.
The discoloration usually starts at the bottom of the florets from the outside. Later it starts covering the entire broccoli head.
Now, just because you see some yellowing and browning doesn’t mean that the broccoli has completely spoiled.
But, this largely depends on the extent of the discoloration and whether or not there are other tell-tale signs of spoilage.
If the head of the broccoli only shows some discoloration (it’s at the beginning stages) then use it immediately. Don’t leave it sitting for longer. The other signs will start showing quickly.
Next up on the list of how to tell if broccoli is bad, as with all deteriorating vegetables and fruits, is the formation mold.
Broccoli specifically usually shows white mold. However, in some cases, you can also see black, green, and blue mold. It really depends on what bacteria is on the broccoli and what it has been exposed to.
Either way, when broccoli starts showing signs of mold, do not eat it.
Because broccoli has so many fine nooks and crannies, you really won’t be able to effectively rinse off the mold or cut it away. It is highly likely that there is more mold between the tiny florets.
After some time, the broccoli will start becoming mushy as it rots away. This usually happens after mold starts appearing. And honestly, it’s likely you’ve tossed the broccoli before it even starts showing rot. But just in case I need to say it: DO NOT EAT ROTTING BROCCOLI.
At this stage, the vegetable is completely compromised throughout – even in areas that aren’t rotten.
Broccoli already has a unique smell that puts some people off. But soiling broccoli smells far worse.
It has an extremely recognizable rotten-veggie smell that you won’t miss. As with the mushy texture, this usually only happens way past the broccoli is spoiled.
What Can Happen If You Use Bad Broccoli?
Now that you know exactly how to tell if broccoli is bad, what will actually happen if you eat it?
The short answer is food poisoning. The symptoms for food poisoning are pretty much the same regardless of the strain of bacteria you’ve ingested. They include diarrhea, vomiting, cramps, fever, and nausea.
However, what differs is the severity of these symptoms. In some cases, certain bacteria strains (and in certain amounts) can lead to permanent disabilities and even death.
It is crucial that you check your produce for signs of spoilage to prevent any discomfort and potential long-term side effects.
Can You Freeze Broccoli To Extend Its Shelf Life?
You cannot and should not freeze already spoiled broccoli – even if the signs are minimal. Only store the freshest broccoli heads that you have. They shouldn’t have any yellow or brown spots and obviously not show any of the other signs.
If you store broccoli in the freezer, you could extend its shelf life for up to 12 months.
Only freeze broccoli if you intend on cooking it in stews, soups, sauces, or anywhere where it doesn’t have to have a tender, crunchy texture.
Once frozen broccoli is thawed, like most veggies, it becomes limp and soft.
And as I always say, the quicker you thaw and use the frozen vegetables, the better the flavor will be. After 12 months, you shouldn’t expect much. But after a month or two, the broccoli will still be very good.
How To Properly Store Broccoli To Make It Last Longer
Personally, I only use two techniques for storing broccoli to keep it fresh. If you know how to tell if broccoli is bad, you can easily figure out how to choose fresh ones and how to keep them fresh.
The first is to wrap the head of broccoli in damp paper towels. This keeps them moist and crisp and prevents the florets from drying out.
The second is wrapping it in plastic wrap (loosely) or placing it in a loose plastic bag. This is also a way to prevent the broccoli from drying out.
These are the best ways to store whole heads. Unless you cut it into smaller pieces, you won’t be able to fit it into an airtight container or a regular-sized container.