No one wants soggy broccoli.
Haley is a Wisconsin-based creative freelancer and recent graduate. She has worked as an editor, fact checker, and copywriter for various digital and print publications. Her most recent position was in academic publishing as a publicity and marketing assistant for the University of Wisconsin Press
Broccoli is one of the most popular cruciferous vegetables. Full of fiber and vitamins, broccoli is seriously good for you. It’s also a great example of healthy foods that taste great. You can roast, bake, boil, steam, blanch, and even air fry broccoli, making it a super versatile ingredient to keep on hand.
The only problem? Broccoli’s days are numbered. When the bright green hue has faded to yellow or brown, you know your broccoli has spoiled. To get the longest life span out of your broccoli, choose wisely at the grocery store. Look for uniformly green and tightly packed florets with no noticeable odor, discoloration, or softness. When you buy fresh broccoli and store it properly, it can last up to five days in the refrigerator, enticing you to eat more produce and reduce your food waste.
Fresh broccoli should be stored in the refrigerator. If you have a crisper drawer in your fridge, that’s a good place to keep it.
It’s important to avoid crowding your broccoli. It likes a little breathing space, so try not to wrap it too tightly in the produce bag or place it in a crammed drawer with many other fruits and vegetables. Why? Broccoli is sensitive to ethylene gas. Trapping broccoli in tight spaces can speed up the process of this gas breaking down the fresh vegetable, causing it to go bad quicker.
If your broccoli is damp from the store, or if you’ve rinsed it, ensure it’s completely dry before refrigeration. Then, place the clean, dry broccoli loosely in the plastic bag it came with—with or without paper towels to soak up excess moisture. Finally, stash it in the crisper drawer or the back of your refrigerator, where it can stay cool and have a little breathing room.
You can also store fresh, whole broccoli in a glass container or jar. After you’ve rinsed and dried the head of broccoli, fill a glass or jar with an inch of water. Place the broccoli stem in the jar, and place the whole thing in the fridge. Sure, it will look like you have a bouquet of broccoli in your fridge, but this option keeps the stem hydrated, which keeps the broccoli crisp. You’ll want to change out the water each day, though, and you can cover the head loosely with a plastic bag if you want.
Washing, drying, and cutting your produce after a big trip to the grocery store is the time-saving meal prep hack we could all benefit from. To store cut broccoli, start by thoroughly washing and drying it. Place a paper towel at the bottom of a glass container to absorb excess moisture, and fill it with your chopped broccoli pieces. Cover the container and place the whole thing in the fridge to stay cold. You can also store cut broccoli in an airtight food storage container, such as a mason jar. Stored this way, broccoli will last for about two or three days.
If you know you won’t use all of your whole or cut broccoli before it spoils, you can freeze it. Cut broccoli will be easier to freeze, so if it’s not cut already, go ahead and chop up your head of broccoli into small florets. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and add the broccoli pieces to the tray in a single layer. Place the entire thing in the freezer until the pieces are frozen solid—about one to two hours. Then, remove the tray and transfer the broccoli pieces to a freezer-safe container or bag, where it will last for about a year.
When you’re ready, you can whip out your bag of frozen broccoli for a variety of recipes. Add it to soups, casseroles, stir fries, and more. You can also roast frozen broccoli to get that crispy texture.
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