How To Store Broccoli

close up of broccoli florets on a wooden cutting board

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Check out this guide on how to store broccoli. Properly storing broccoli is essential to maintain its freshness, flavor, and nutritional value. Whether you have whole broccoli heads or cut florets, knowing the right storage method(s) can help extend shelf life.

By following simple steps such as refrigerating promptly, keeping it dry, and avoiding excess moisture, you can ensure that your broccoli stays delicious and ready to use whenever you need it. Whether you plan to enjoy it in a stir-fry, salad, or simply steamed as a side dish, mastering the art of broccoli storage is key to elevating your culinary creations and reducing food waste.

Broccoli on a cutting board with dressing in background

How to Select Broccoli

Selecting fresh broccoli is key to ensuring optimal flavor and nutritional value. Below you will find some key factors that you should remember when selecting your broccoli at the grocery store: 

Color: Look for broccoli heads that have a dark green color. Yellowing or browning indicates aging and loss of freshness.

Texture: The broccoli florets should feel firm and tightly closed. Avoid broccoli with soft or rubbery spots, as this can indicate spoilage.

Stems: The stems should be firm and not woody. If you’re planning to use the stems, make sure they are not overly thick or tough.

Florets: Check the florets for any signs of yellow flowers starting to bloom. While these are edible, they indicate that the broccoli is past its prime.

Weight: Heavier broccoli heads typically indicate more moisture content and freshness. Pick up a few heads and compare their weight.

Smell: Fresh broccoli should have a clean and slightly sweet smell. If it smells sour or off, it’s likely past its prime.

Leaves: If the broccoli comes with leaves attached, they should be crisp and vibrant green, not wilted or yellowed.

Size: Choose broccoli heads that are medium to large in size for the best balance of flavor and texture. Very small heads may be immature, while very large ones can be tough.

By paying attention to these factors, you can select the freshest and tastiest broccoli for your meals.

How to Store Whole Broccoli

broccoli on cutting board

To keep whole broccoli fresh and flavorful for as long as possible, follow these important storage tips.

First, you should refrigerate promptly. As soon as you bring broccoli home, store it in the refrigerator. If you have a vegetable crisper drawer, we recommend putting the whole broccoli in there. Ensure there is some airflow around the broccoli in the refrigerator. Don’t tightly pack it in with other vegetables; instead, give it some space to breathe.

Avoid washing the broccoli before you store it. Remember that it is important to keep the broccoli dry so that you do not accelerate spoilage. Moisture can cause broccoli to deteriorate quickly.

Regularly check the broccoli for any signs of spoilage, such as wilting, yellowing, or mold growth. If you see any signs of spoilage, remove those pieces. While broccoli can last for up to a week in the refrigerator if stored properly, it’s best to use it within a few days for optimal freshness and flavor.

Following these storage guidelines will help extend the shelf life of whole broccoli and keep it fresh until you’re ready to enjoy it.

How to Store Cut Broccoli

how to store broccoli in a ziplock bag

After cutting broccoli, it’s essential to store it properly to maintain its freshness and prevent it from wilting or spoiling quickly. 

Immediately after cutting the broccoli, you will want to make sure the cuts are dry. You can easily dry or gently pat the broccoli with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture. Onc that is complete, place the cut broccoli in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag.

If you use a bag, you will want to make sure that you press out as much air as possible before sealing. If you’re storing the broccoli for more than a day, label the container or bag with the date it was cut. This helps you keep track of its freshness and use it before it loses quality.

Place the sealed container or bag of cut broccoli in the refrigerator. Store it in the vegetable crisper drawer if possible, as it maintains a slightly higher humidity level than the rest of the fridge.

While cut broccoli can last for several days in the refrigerator, it’s best to use it within 3 to 5 days for optimal freshness and flavor.

If you’re planning to store cut broccoli for an extended period or if you want to freeze it, consider blanching it first. Blanching helps preserve the color, texture, and nutritional content of the broccoli before storing.

By following these storage tips, you can keep cut broccoli fresh and flavorful for longer, allowing you to enjoy it in your meals without worrying about it spoiling too quickly.

How to Freeze Broccoli

Freezing broccoli is a great way to preserve its freshness and nutritional value for an extended period.

First,  prepare the broccoli. Start by washing the broccoli thoroughly under cold running water to remove any dirt or debris. Trim off any leaves and tough stems.

How to store broccoli: rinsing stage

Next, cut the broccoli into florets. Use a sharp knife to cut the broccoli head into evenly sized florets. You can also include some of the tender stems if desired. Make sure the florets are relatively uniform in size for even cooking and freezing.

Then, blanch the broccoli. Blanching helps preserve the color, texture, and nutritional content of the broccoli by briefly cooking it in boiling water. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and prepare a bowl of ice water. Place the broccoli florets in the boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then immediately transfer them to the ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Drain the broccoli thoroughly after blanching.

Make sure that you thoroughly dry the broccoli. Pat the blanched broccoli dry with paper towels or use a clean kitchen towel to remove excess moisture. This step is essential to prevent ice crystals from forming on the broccoli during freezing, which can affect its texture.

Spread the blanched and dried broccoli florets in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Make sure the florets are not touching each other to prevent them from sticking together during freezing.

Broccoli florets on a sheet pan

Next, place the baking sheet with the broccoli florets in the freezer and let them pre-freeze for 1-2 hours. Pre-freezing individually ensures that the broccoli pieces freeze individually, making them easier to portion and use later.

Once the broccoli florets are pre-frozen, transfer them to freezer-safe bags or airtight containers. Remove as much air as possible from the bags before sealing to prevent freezer burn. Label the bags or containers with the date of freezing for reference.

Finally, store the broccoli in the freezer. Place the sealed bags or containers of broccoli in the freezer. Store them away from the door and in a place where they won’t get crushed to maintain their quality.

Frozen broccoli can be stored in the freezer for up to 6-12 months. Use it in your favorite recipes, such as stir-fries, soups, casseroles, or as a side dish, straight from the freezer.

Our Favorite Broccoli Recipes

For more broccoli recipes and ideas, follow us on Pinterest.

Pinterest Pin How to Store Broccoli

About Kristin

Kristin Ahaus is the Director of Content and Communications for The Produce Moms. Her focus and passion is helping all of TPM's brand partners share their stories while also helping consumers understand how to select, serve and store fresh produce. Connect with Kristin on LinkedIN.

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