How to Store Broccoli

Keep it that crown fresher for longer with these storage tips.

October 06, 2020
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Photo by: Thu Thai Thanh / EyeEm

Thu Thai Thanh / EyeEm

By Regan Burns Cafiso for Food Network Kitchen

Broccoli is a great vegetable to keep on hand. Packed with antioxidants, vitamins and fiber, it's a versatile veggie that can enhance most any meal. And with proper storage, a head of broccoli can last for a week or longer — so you can stock up confidently without worrying about food waste. Perfect as a side dish or in a stir-fry, soup or casserole, this cruciferous powerhouse will work in all kinds of meals.

How to Choose Broccoli

Look for a head of broccoli with firm, dark-green crowns of tightly-closed buds. The stalks should be green and fresh-looking with no browning or yellowing. Check out the stem end—it should look like it was cut recently and not shriveled or dried out. At the tips, a small amount of yellow flowering is ok if the rest of the florets look vibrant, green and fresh (after all, broccoli is actually a flower!) but avoid wilted-looking florets with lots of yellowing, which is a sign that the broccoli is past its prime. Mushy spots and/or a rotten smell also indicate a less-than-fresh bunch.

How to Store Broccoli Properly

Broccoli is a hardy, cool-weather vegetable, so it feels right at home in your cold refrigerator. In fact, it is usually packed on ice all the way to the market shelves. What it doesn't like, however, is excessive moisture, a tight wrapping or dry refrigerator air. Therefore, you must prep and store it correctly.

Like most fruits and vegetables (notably bananas), broccoli releases ethylene gas as it sits. If you store your broccoli in a tightly sealed bag, the ethylene will be trapped and will hasten the breakdown of the vegetable. But leaving it unwrapped exposes your broccoli to dry refrigerator air, which will quickly make it wilted and limp. So let it "breathe" by keeping it loosely wrapped in an unsealed plastic bag. If your bunch is wet from the supermarket mist, dry it off as much as you can before storing. You can even wrap the entire head in a layer of paper towels to help wick away the excess water before bagging it. Stash the broccoli in a cold part of your refrigerator — like the crisper drawer — preferably away from fruits and that produce excessive ethylene gas like apples. If there's no room in the crisper, store it on a shelf near the back of the fridge.

Properly wrapped, your broccoli can last up to a week in the fridge and maybe even a few days longer. But if you overbought or just can't use it up in time, you can also freeze broccoli to enjoy whenever you like. This recipe for melting blanched broccoli spread is ideal for past-its-prime broccoli if you haven't freezed it in time.

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