How Long Does Broccoli Last | 7 Tips to Extend its Shelf Life
Last updated: 10/31/21
Broccoli is a vegetable that does not have an indefinite shelf life. Unfortunately, mother nature did not put a best by date, sell-by date, or use by date stamped on the green stalk.
You will learn about the shelf life of broccoli, plus some tips on how to make broccoli last longer.
Broccoli’s shelf life is dependent on the different ways & methods that you store it. Broccoli that is freshly picked will last for 7-14 days in the fridge. Cooked broccoli will last for approximately 7-9 days in the fridge.
Frozen broccoli will last for 6-8 months in the freezer. Pickled broccoli lasts for about 4-6 months if pickled, canned, and stored in a refrigerator properly.
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There is more to just sticking broccoli in your fridge. We will explore the many different ways to extend how long broccoli lasts. Our suggestions are based on the premise that you properly follow the practices of food preservation.
As always, use your best judgment when trying to determine when something is spoiled. Let’s delve into the 7 tips to save your broccoli from croaking too early.
1- Shelf Life of Broccoli at Room Temperature
Freshly picked broccoli will last approximately for about 3-5 days. This is your garden variety of broccoli that you actually grow. It is best to pick the broccoli when it is completely dry as that will help to prolong its life.
You want to examine the broccoli carefully when you select it from the market. Check for signs of wilting or buds that are turning a darker shade of green. Healthy broccoli will have a vibrant green color and will not appear limp.
This broccoli typically will last approximately 1-2 days because it may have been picked several days prior to landing in your shopping cart. For obvious reason, storing broccoli at room temperature is NOT recommended.
Check out our article if you want to learn more fascinating facts about growing broccoli here.
2- How Long Does Broccoli Last in the Fridge | Shelf Life of Broccoli in the Fridge
Broccoli lasts approximately 7-14 days if stored properly in the fridge. Broccoli that you pick fresh from your garden may last about 10-14 days if properly stored. This assumes that the broccoli you picked does not have any signs of spoiling and is completely dry (more on this in tip #5)
Broccoli that you pick up at your local market will generally last about 7-10 days if stored properly in your fridge. Look for signs of freshness that we mentioned in tip #1.
Make sure you eat or follow one of the methods in tip #7 to make broccoli last longer.
3- Shelf Life of Broccoli in the Freezer
Broccoli last approximately 3-8 months in the freezer with proper storage methods. Broccoli that is fresh picked or from the market will need to be blanched prior to storing it in the freezer. You definitely want to make sure that the broccoli is not spoiled prior to freezing. Freezing spoiled broccoli does not guarantee it will be fresh.
Check the best by date if you purchase already frozen broccoli florets. It will vary by manufacturer but will be at least 3 months. Generally, the manufacturers do a very good job at preserving the overall quality of broccoli with their freezing methods.
4- Cooked Broccoli’s Shelf Life
Cooked broccoli will last approximately 6-9 days if stored properly in the fridge. This assumes that you properly cook the broccoli and that it is not prepared with other foods. It is tough to say what the different types of food preparation will do to modify its best by date.
You also want to make sure that when you put broccoli in your fridge that it is put in a tightly sealed container to ensure that it lasts 6-9 days.
5- How to Properly Store Broccoli
The best way to store broccoli is always to ensure that it is sealed in a tight plastic container. This could be a zip lock storage bag or a Tupperware. It is also best to keep it in the fridge and try to minimize its exposure to the light and open air.
Bacteria are freely floating in the air, so that’s’ why keep it covered will help to minimize their exposure to it. The other important tip to extend how long broccoli will last is to ensure that it is completely dry.
It is best to pick fresh broccoli after it has been in the sun and dry. The morning time usually has some moisture on it from the dew that forms during the early morning hours. This will ensure that the buds are mostly dry.
Make sure that if there is water on the broccoli to dry it off as best as you can. Moisture will cause the broccoli to start to develop rot, especially on the small little green buds. This leads us to the next tip.
6- How to Know if Broccoli is Bad or Spoiled
Broccoli is not one of those vegetables that you want to leave outside of the fridge for too long. The green buds could turn a yellow color if left out for 2 or more days.
This is not a good sign as the broccoli’s flavor will definitely not taste fresh.
You can cut off the affected parts and cook the remainder. It is probably best to toss the broccoli away or put them in your compost.
My worms love broccoli scraps.
Another sign that broccoli is spoiled is the smell. Brassicas always have a distinct odor when they start to spoil.
It is a pungent odor that you will not mistake. Other signs include a darkening and blackness that starts on the tiny buds.
It is always recommended to discard the broccoli at this point. You may also notice that the broccoli becomes limp and appears to lose its life.
There is no turning back at this point, it is worm chow now.
7- Methods to make Broccoli Last
Broccoli can store for an extended amount of time if you prepare it properly. Let’s take a look at a few different ways on preserving broccoli. You can also check out this post here for more ideas on preserving your vegetables.
Freezing Your Broccoli
The best way to make broccoli last is by freezing the florets and stems. There are a few steps you need to do prior to freezing it:
- Blanch, or boil the vegetables in boiling water for approximately 3 minutes.
- Remove from the boiling water after 3 minutes and submerge in a cold ice bath. This stops the cooking process.
- Drain the broccoli and pat dry as best as possible.
- Place dried broccoli florets and pieces on a tray lined with parchment paper.
- Place in the freezer for approximately 45 minutes to an hour. This will ensure that the broccoli freezes but does not clump together.
- Place frozen broccoli in a tightly sealed bag. Vacuum sealed bags are the most optimal way.
This method of preserving broccoli involves placing the broccoli is a pickling liquid. Pickling is almost always a liquid that is composed of vinegar and salt. It also can include some other spices that lend well to the pickling flavors that you are most familiar with.
Typically, pickled broccoli will last about 4-6 months in the fridge. The combination of vinegar and salt provides a very acidic environment that impedes bacteria. You definitely still want to keep it covered and stored in the fridge.
There are 2 methods of canning that we must differentiate. There is the water bath canning and there is pressure cooking canning. Broccoli requires the pressure cooking canning method.
Pressure cooking canning methods will ensure that the temperature it is processed or boiled in is well above the temperature to kill off any bacterial spores that can cause botulism. The temperature in a pressure cooker is 250°F or more.
Water bath canning will never reach this temperature is not recommended to process broccoli. Botulism spores can actually survive normal boiling temperatures so are not quite killed off using this method.
The best guide that we use for canning and pickling is the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. You can find this book here
You might be able to dehydrate broccoli and make it into a powder, but that is something we don’t have much experience with. You would need to use some type of food dehydrate it and cook it at 125°F for about 8-9 hours.
Dehydrating basically dries the broccoli of 90-95% of its water content. This slows down the rate at which it spoils. You still need to store it in an airtight container to maximize its shelf life.
Another method to extend broccoli’s shelf life is by using a type of product that you place in the fridge. You simply place this preserver disk in the same storage bin as your vegetables.
It is supposed to help “neutralizing the ethylene gas released by fruits and vegetables as they ripen.”
We did a quick search on the reviews on Amazon. It has 247 reviews with a 4.5-star rating. We searched for broccoli and came up with at least 4 positive 5-star reviews specifically mentioning broccoli.
Check out the Preserver Disk here.
Keep in mind that the information that we provided is based on recommendations from the FDA, our own observations, and the data from other sources such as the Ball guide we mentioned above.
Please do your own due diligence in determining your own set of guidelines.
This information provided is at your own risk. Use your best judgment. We did our best to present you with the best information we had available at the time of this writing.
The shelf lifetimes are based on the following conditions of your storage area:
- Room temperature of 60°- 70°F
- Refrigerator temperature of 35° – 40° F
- Freezer temperature of 0°F or lower.
Check out our guide on ways of preserving food for more information on some of the techniques.
- How long does broccoli last in the fridge? – Broccoli will last for 7-14 days in the refrigerator.
- How long is leftover broccoli good for? – Cooked broccoli will last approximately 6-9 days if stored properly in the fridge.