I remember an episode in one of my favorite cartoons, The Powerpuff Girls, which shows broccoli aliens taking over the town by controlling people who ate broccoli.
It made me kind of anxious as a kid, thinking whether broccoli would really be that harmful to me and would I be in control of some aliens.
The good thing is that broccoli isn’t bad at all. The bad thing is that it goes bad, which would certainly cause harm to the body.
The question remains, how long would it exactly take for broccoli to go bad and what effect can it have on one’s health?
What Is Broccoli Anyway?
The word broccoli is actually Italian in origin and comes from the word “broccolo,” which means the “flowering crest of cabbage.” It is the diminutive of “brocco” which essentially means “sprout” or “small nail.”
Broccoli is considered to be an edible plant that is green in color. It belongs to the cabbage family whose flower head is enclosed by leaves. It’s more of a tree-like structure which is branching out from a thick stalk that is edible.
The vegetable has been cultivated in Italy for over 2000 years. It belongs to the italic cultivar group and is classified as Brassica oleracea, which is quite similar to cauliflower, which essentially belongs to another cultivar group but of the same species.
The vegetable family that broccoli belongs to also includes turnips, kale, rutabaga, cauliflower, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and bok choy. According to the Medical News Today, these vegetables provide lots of nutrients while offering very few calories. They can also be called the powerhouse of nutrition.
The green flowering head of broccoli is to be eaten as a vegetable. Broccoli can be eaten in several ways. You might want to steam it or boil it. Some people even prefer to eat it raw which is perfectly fine.
The cultivation and careful breeding of brassica crops started in around 6th century BC in the northern part of the Mediterranean, which resulted in the development of broccoli. Since then, broccoli became one of the most valuable food items amongst the Italians.
In Britain, the credit for introducing broccoli goes to Peter Scheemakers who brought it to England in the middle of the 18th century from Antwerp. Broccoli was brought to the US quite a while before it actually became popular in the 1920s by southern Italian immigrants.
Does Broccoli Go Bad? How Long Does Broccoli Last?
No one can deny the fact that broccoli is full of amazing nutrients like potassium, folate and vitamins. However, there is also the fact that it would stay nutritious as long as it doesn’t go bad.
Although it stays good for quite a few days and even weeks after the purchase of broccoli from stores, the question still bothers people because they want to know exactly how long it would stay healthy and fresh and when they should dispose it off because it has gone bad.
Broccoli’s shelf life, like all the other fresh fruits and vegetables, cannot be defined by “best before,” “use by” or “sell by” dates. Rather than this technique, you have to rely on the date when broccoli was actually purchased in most of the cases.
However, it can’t be said with utmost certainty how many days broccoli will last. It is mentioned by Eat By Date that broccoli would last for up to a week or two if the broccoli is fresh. However, if the broccoli is cooked, the time for broccoli to last would decrease to about 7 to 9 days.
It mostly depends on how it has been stored. If proper measures have been taken to store broccoli, it would last for a longer period of time, but if it has not been stored properly, it would go bad in just a couple of days.
How Long Does Broccoli Last in the Fridge?
In the fridge, like most fruits and vegetables, broccoli lasts a long longer than it does if kept outside. Broccoli can be stored in the fridge for about 7 to around 14 days.
However, if you store the vegetable in the freezer, it would stay fresh for about a year to around a year and a half. On top of that, if the temperature is maintained to a stable 0°F, the shelf life of broccoli can be increased even more.
However, it is advisable to consume refrigerated broccoli in 5 days if it’s raw and 3 if it’s cooked. It is because of the fact that broccoli is a perishable vegetable and has a very high chance of getting bad due to the smallest issue that might occur in storage.
All that being said, it is better to consume broccoli as soon as possible and not wait for a very long time to eat it.
How to Tell If the Broccoli Has Gone Bad?
It is important to know how long the broccoli would stay fresh. However, it is more important to know whether the broccoli you have is fresh or not.
In order to do so, you can look at some of the following things suggested by the Healtholino Magazine
- 1You can do a smell test. This is the easiest and most basic thing that can be done to see if the vegetable is still fresh or not. Basically, when the broccoli is fresh, it usually doesn’t have any scent. Even if it does, it is so faint that it can be neglected.
However, if the vegetable has gone bad, there is a high chance of the vegetable to have a very strong moldy smell. This smell would probably be in the whole fridge but would be particularly severe when you place the broccoli near you nose. The smell is kind of moldy and irritating with a rotting odor overpowering it.
- 2When you buy or grow broccoli, fresh broccoli would have a very firm feel to it. The stalk would be extremely firm and crisp.
However, when the vegetable gets stale, it absorbs moisture and causes the stalk and the entire broccoli to go a bit soggy. As a result, it loses its firm feel.
- 3Another way to know if the broccoli you have is fresh or not is the visual test. When you buy or grow broccoli, it is either bright green or dark green. Once it has started to go bad, the stalk and the overall vegetable starts to look a bit yellowish.
According to the University of the District of Columbia’s Center for Nutrition, Diet and Health, one should avoid broccoli when it starts to get a yellowish tint on it or starts sprouting flowers that are yellow in color.
- 4Another way to identify bad broccoli is to see if it has slippery spots on the buds. It would start wilting and would have holes appearing on the florets of the broccoli.
How to Store Broccoli Properly?
The best way to keep broccoli fresh for a longer period of time is to store it properly. Several steps and measures can be taken in order to store broccoli for an extended period of time.
Broccoli can be chilled and stored in the refrigerator or freezer. This is one of the best ways to keep it fresh for a long time.
Prior to storing the vegetable, the question of storing it in a container comes to the mind. What you need to do is first determine if the broccoli has been grown in your own farm or has been bought from the supermarket.
If the former one is the case, you should wash the broccoli so that any insect or dirt from the farm or garden can be washed away. However, not a lot of water should be used.
If the case is the latter one, the only thing to be done before storing is to mist it lightly with water. This is because of the fact that the broccoli from the store has already been washed and dried.
If more water is used, it would give way to mold growing on the vegetable which isn’t something you would want. Hence, the use of water should be kept to the minimum.
After washing it, the vegetable can be wrapped in a towel and kept in the fridge. This can be done if you are not planning on storing it for a very long period of time.
However, if you want it to keep it for a longer time, it should be put in an airtight box. Fill the box with broccoli halfway up.
This is due to the reason that the vegetable doesn’t bruise and gets bad easily. This box can then be kept in the freezer for a long period of time.
Like all vegetables, broccoli has an equal chance of going bad after a few days. Even if it has been stored properly, it wouldn’t be advised to keep it in the fridge, freezer or outside for a very long period of time.
This is because broccoli is jam-packed with nutrients and thus, it should be consumed as soon as possible.
Broccoli can always be stored in freezers and fridge to give it a longer life and give you the ease of not going to the supermarket every time you require it. You can simply take it out of your fridge whenever you need it.