Broccoli is one of the essential vegetables you should include in your diet. It is low in calories, rich in minerals, essential vitamins, and fibre. The vegetable is an excellent source of folic acid, vitamins C and K, and provides potassium. As a vegetable, it is perishable. Because of its bulky head, you are more likely going to use it one or two times unless you cook the whole of it. But how long the leftover or the whole vegetable will last can be confusing. That is why you should learn how to tell if broccoli is bad before you eat something that could harm you.
You can only enjoy the full benefits of broccoli when it is fresh. Once it goes bad, it becomes less nutritious, appetising, and attractive. In most cases, the freshness of the vegetable at the time of purchase can determine its shelf life. Thus, always buy fresh broccoli to prolong its shelf life. But even when you buy the freshest heads, it will go bad at some point. So, how do you tell if broccoli has gone bad?
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- 1 Signs of spoiled broccoli
- 2 Broccoli shelf life
- 3 How to keep broccoli fresh for longer
- 4 Effects of eating bad broccoli
Signs of spoiled broccoli
Here are signs you should watch out for.
1. Noticeable odour
The initial sign of the vegetable going bad is a noticeable odour. Its smell intensifies gradually because, as a cruciferous plant, it contains higher levels of sulphuric compounds. As it begins to decay, the sulphur compounds and hydrogen ions in the water react to produce hydrogen sulphide gas at low levels. That reaction will give off a characteristic smell of a rotten egg.
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2. Dark spots on the head
Broccoli heads tend to rot from the head during drizzly or foggy weather. The changes are usually visible on the flower heads because darker pigmentation areas start to form. Also, you will see black spots on the head when you store the vegetable in your fridge for too long. In other cases, the heads get bruised during rough handling. That causes tissue damage, which can result in dark spots after a while.
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3. Formation of a yellow colour
When the bluish-green or green crown of the broccoli turns yellow, that is a sign the vegetable is going bad. Also, this is sometimes followed by the withering of the leaves attached to the stem. A fungus can cause yellowing of broccoli. That can work its way down to the stem and cause the leaves to fall off.
Apart from fungus, overexposure of the vegetable to sunlight or heat degrades its green pigment or chlorophyll. That causes the yellow colour to show up. Once it turns yellow, it indicates your broccoli is past its peak freshness.
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4. Slimy texture
When you notice a slimy texture, the broccoli is going bad. Slimy texture always results in limp broccoli. In most cases, it indicates that the vegetable is spoiling and has started to develop a layer that contains bacteria. The only solution when that happens is to throw away the vegetable.
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Broccoli shelf life
Broccoli can stay fresh for a few days or weeks depending on how fresh it was when you purchased it. But like other vegetables, you cannot know exactly when broccoli will stay fresh. For most people, the best way of prolonging its shelf life is to refrigerate it.
But how long does broccoli last in the fridge? Refrigeration prolongs the life of broccoli for between seven and fourteen days. That assumes you have purchased it as a whole and stored the vegetable in a fridge. With raw leftovers, expect it to stay fresh for less than five days. After this time, it will start going bad, although the process will be slower.
How to keep broccoli fresh for longer
Improper storage of broccoli will make it go from refreshing and crisp to unappetising in less than five days. But with brilliant storage methods, you can keep it fresh for even two weeks. To avoid the disappointment of spoiled broccoli, here is how to store it.
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Keep it in a bouquet
For short-term storage, keep the broccoli in a bouquet the same way you would keep flowers. Immerse the stems in a bowl of water and ensure the head points up. You can refrigerate it to keep it fresh for up to a week. If you do not have a fridge, storing the broccoli in that condition will keep it fresh for around three days. The vegetable will remain firm without a limp stem.
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Wrap in a damp paper towel
Wrapping broccoli in a damp paper towel helps to prevent the accumulation of moisture. The towel will absorb any excess moisture that causes it to rot. With this method, you can keep the vegetables fresh for three to four days.
Freeze the broccoli
If you have too much broccoli that you are not planning on eating soon, the best way of storing it is to freeze. But freezing is not about tossing it in a freezer and waiting for the food to stay fresh for longer. It has a process. Freezing it raw will result in the vegetable getting bitter and change its colour.
A method you should consider is to blanch them. Blanching helps to preserve its green colour and flavour. The process entails either steaming it for three minutes or boiling in water for the same amount of time. Through proper freezing, you will keep broccoli fresh for up to a year.
Effects of eating bad broccoli
You should never eat spoiled broccoli. When the vegetable starts going bad, it can form bacteria, mould, and yeast. That will make it unsafe for you to consume. For example, mould can cause respiratory problems. If you notice a characteristic smell, it is a sign of decomposition. Decomposition can cause microbial infection.
Note that broccoli turning purple is not a bad thing. The vegetable is the same as the leafy green. Its taste to regular broccoli will also remain the same.
Learning how to tell if broccoli is bad is the best way of avoiding food wastage. To prevent the rot, refrigerate the vegetable. Once it goes bad, you should discard it because it can be harmful to your health.
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