Wondering – How do you know if broccoli is bad? Then you are in the right place!
Broccoli is a vegetable from the cruciferous family that’s hailed as a superfood due to its high vitamin and antioxidant content.
Nevertheless, this vegetable can eventually spoil just like all other perishable foods.
Learn to identify the signs that the vegetable is starting to rot and additional tips like how to preserve broccoli to keep it fresh and crisp.
Broccoli will produce detectable signs that it’s going bad. Some of these signs include strong odors and discoloration.
How Do You Know If Broccoli Is Bad? The Telltale Signs
Before buying broccoli at the grocery store or preparing it on your kitchen counter, examine it to determine if it’s still safe to consume.
Learn how to tell if broccoli is bad through the following tips.
The Florets Are No Longer Green
When broccoli begins spoiling, the first sign is that the florets take on a yellowish color.
This is a sign that the vegetable is starting to lose its chlorophyll.
It’s the same reason leaves on a tree eventually turn yellowish or reddish. This is a normal process and happens to all broccoli if you don’t consume it when it’s ripe.
If there are no additional signs of rotting, then the broccoli may still be safe to consume.
However, it’s past its peak ripeness and may have a more bitter taste, not to mention diminished nutritional value. To err on the side of caution, though, it’s best to discard it.
At the least, spoiling is not far off.
It’s also possible that some mold has already developed beneath the florets and is not visibly detectable.
The Stem Is Soft to the Touch
Check the stem and the attached leaves. They should feel firm, and the leaves should be green.
The broccoli is beginning to wither if the stem feels soft or limp.
Run a finger over the stem. The stem should remain firmly in place. If it bends easily, then it’s no longer fresh.
The Broccoli Smells Rotten
Hold the broccoli to your face and inhale. Does it have that trademark earthy and cruciferous smell?
If your nose detects a musty or ammonia-like odor, then the vegetable is already in the stages of rotting.
Some people have more sensitive noses than others. If you’re having a difficult time detecting the smell or need a second opinion, have another person perform the smell test.
Tip: When performing the sniff test, be sure to smell the trunk and stems as well.
Mold Appears on the Florets
You may see dark spots on the florets or stems. These are signs of mold spores.
You might also see white fuzz or “webbing” grow in the florets.
This is mold in its advanced stages. Throw the whole broccoli away; it’s no longer safe for consumption.
Tip: Mold grows when there is ample water on the surface. Don’t wash broccoli until you intend on consuming it.
The Broccoli Has a Foul Taste
You likely know what fresh broccoli tastes like; it has an earthy taste that one can describe as pleasantly bitter.
If it tastes soft and mushy, then it has likely gone bad.
If you swallow a bit, it’s not a big deal, and you probably won’t get sick from it. However, do not consume it further.
How to Keep Broccoli Fresh Longer
You can’t store broccoli indefinitely, but there are some steps you can take to extend its shelf life.
Use a Vacuum Seal
Invest in a food vacuum machine. Cut broccoli into small pieces, place them in a bag and vacuum-seal the contents to keep out air and water, the primary contributors to mold.
If you go this route, you’ll have to blanch the broccoli first. Blanching is the process of boiling the vegetable and then dropping it in cold water.
Boil for about three minutes.
Note: When you blanch broccoli, you release naturally-producing gasses.
Without blanching, the gas will emit inside the vacuum-sealed bag, resulting in rapid spoiling.
Use a Paper Towel
If you buy pre-cut broccoli in a bag, one helpful hack is to place a disposable paper towel inside the bag.
The paper towel will absorb the moisture in the air.
This minimizes condensation from appearing on the vegetable surface. Condensation invites mold growth.
Tip: You can apply the same paper towel method to the vegetable drawer in your refrigerator.
You can store broccoli in a freezer. Cut the broccoli into cubes and place them in a Ziploc freezer bag.
Be sure to remove all the air from the bag before sealing it.
Tip: Consider open freezing first to prevent the cut broccoli from freezing together into a giant block.
To implement open freezing, place the cut broccoli onto a baking sheet, with each piece separate from one another.
Freeze for about four hours. Once they’re frozen, place them in a Ziploc bag for storage.
Use a Jar
You can store broccoli in a jar and treat it like a vase of flowers. Fill a mason jar halfway with water and store the broccoli so the stalk is submerged in the water.
Alternatively, you can avoid the jar altogether and wrap the stalk in a moist towel. Do not cover the florets; keep them out in the open air.
This ensures the broccoli receives adequate hydration, keeping it fresh longer.
The Consequences of Eating Bad Broccoli
Even with the signs, it’s possible to eat bad broccoli without realizing it.
What are the health consequences of eating spoiled broccoli, or any spoiled vegetable for that matter?
If you’re a reasonably healthy adult, you’re unlikely to fall seriously ill. You may develop mild signs of food poisoning, such as nausea and vomiting.
Common bacteria found on moldy broccoli include E. coli, listeria, and E. cloacae.
Removing the Spoiled Part of Broccoli
Instead of discarding broccoli in its entirety, is it possible to just cut off the moldy parts? With broccoli, you can do this.
The buds and Florets are more likely to contain hidden mold. The safest option, though, is to discard the whole thing.
However, If you wish to salvage as much of the vegetable as possible, it’s doable. This is possible because broccoli is a hard vegetable.
It’s not a soft vegetable like tomatoes or cucumbers. These contain a high water volume, enabling mold to travel more rapidly.
Tip: If you choose to salvage the non-moldy parts of broccoli, the stem and trunk are easier to salvage.
Do you have other questions regarding bad broccoli? Here are other common questions regarding broccoli preparation and storage.
Can I Store Broccoli with Other Vegetables?
You may store broccoli side-by-side with other vegetables. However, you should not keep the vegetable near any fruits.
Most fruits emit ethylene gas as part of the ripening process. If you expose broccoli to ethylene gas, it will rapidly spoil.
Does Cooking Broccoli Kill the Bacteria?
Thoroughly cooking vegetables will kill most bacteria. However, this doesn’t mean it’s safe to cook broccoli with mold growth.
While the heat may kill the mold, it won’t destroy the harmful chemicals released by the mold.
Can Frozen Broccoli Go Bad?
Freezing broccoli is an effective storage strategy. However, this doesn’t mean the vegetable will last indefinitely.
You can keep broccoli in the freezer for up to three months. If ice crystals begin forming, it’s time to consume the vegetable or discard it.
Summing It Up
How do you know if broccoli is bad? There will always be signs that hint bacteria is setting in. Make it a standard practice to properly store the vegetable.
This ensures maximum vitamin retention and that you don’t consume broccoli that may potentially have mold or other nasty bacteria.
Good storage practices equal fresh broccoli at the time of consumption.