How to Store Broccoli (Keep It Fresh for 1 Year or More)


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So you plan to follow a weight loss regimen, and your dietitian tells you to load up on green vegetables. The first green veggie that probably comes to your mind is broccoli.

The dark-green florets of broccoli are high in fiber and almost fat-free. Broccoli is also rich in vitamins C, E, and A, and minerals including calcium, iron, copper, manganese, zinc, and selenium. It is also rich in antioxidants that fight free-radical damage. It promotes healthy bones and tissues and also facilitates quicker healing of wounds.

The tree-shaped broccoli head also provides a combination of tastes and textures. The florets are soft and slightly bitter, while the crunchy stems and stalks provide an earthy taste. Broccoli is also extremely versatile in terms of cooking. You can steam, boil, bake, sauté or stir-fry broccoli to add complex flavors and textures to your savory dishes.

how to store broccoli
Learn the right way to store broccoli and keep it fresh for longer

The only drawback to this healthy veggie is its short shelf life. It is quite susceptible to mold growth. Broccoli will stay good for 3 to 5 days if refrigerated the right way. However, you can also preserve it up to one year by blanching and freezing the florets.

To help you enjoy the goodness of this veggie to its maximum potential, we bring to you four effective ways to store broccoli for a short time and the right way to blanch broccoli for year-long preservation.

Note: Do not wash broccoli under running water if you plan to store it. The excess moisture trapped in the florets will develop mold.

# Short Term (2 to 5 days)

Method 1: Refrigerate Wrapped in Paper Towels

Most grocery stores use automatic misters to keep vegetables fresh longer. Spraying water on the broccoli bunch and then wrapping it up in paper towels will provide the same environment in which to store it for a short duration.

The paper towel provides just the right amount of moisture to the florets while soaking up all the excess water sprayed on them. It also prevents direct exposure to cold blasts of air in the refrigerator, without blocking the ventilation needed to keep the broccoli fresh.

Things you’ll need:

things needed to store broccoli

  • Broccoli head
  • Water in a spray bottle
  • Paper towels

Single-Step Method: Wrap damp broccoli in paper towels & refrigerate it

use paper towels to store broccoli
Dampen broccoli and wrap it up in a paper towel; refrigerate for proper storage
  • Spray 2 or 3 light mists of water all over the broccoli head. The broccoli should be damp but not dripping wet.
  • Loosely wrap one paper towel over the broccoli head.
  • Use another paper towel to wrap the thick stem.
  • Place the wrapped broccoli in the fresh zone or crisper of your refrigerator. If the paper towel feels too wet after the 2nd day, replace it with a fresh one, but don’t spray the broccoli again.

Broccoli stored this way will stay good for 2 to 3 days.

Method 2: Refrigerate in a Jar of Water

A bunch of broccoli can also be stored like fresh flowers – in a jar of water. The broccoli will continue to draw water from its stem and stay fresh and crisp. However, you must change the water daily to keep the freshness intact. Additionally, you can also use this method to store mint and keep it fresh for 1 month.

Things you’ll need:

things needed to store broccoli

  • Mason jar
  • Broccoli head
  • Water

Single-Step Method: Stand the broccoli up in a jar of water & refrigerate it

store broccoli in a jar of water
Place the broccoli stem in jar half-filled with water for longer storage
  • Fill a mason jar halfway with water. You can use cold water here.
  • Dunk the stem of your broccoli bunch into the water. The florets should be above the rim of the jar.
  • Place the jar in the fresh zone of your refrigerator.
  • Be sure to change the water daily to prevent rotting.

You can also loosely cover the florets with a plastic bag, and secure it around the jar with a rubber band. This will protect the florets from the cold air of the refrigerator.

Broccoli refrigerated in a jar of water will stay good for 3 to 5 days.

Method 3: Refrigerate in a Ventilated Plastic Container

If you are always on the run and do not have time to change the water daily as required in the previous method, you can use a perforated plastic bag to store broccoli. The holes in the bag will ensure proper air circulation to keep your broccoli fresh for a few days.

Things you’ll need:

things needed to store broccoli

  • Broccoli head
  • Ziplock bag
  • Hole punch

Step 1. Make multiple holes in a ziplock bag

how to store broccoli by using a ziplock bag
Punch multiple holes in a ziplock bag for ventilation
  • Fold a ziplock bag in half crosswise. Fold the half again in half.
  • Use a hole punch to make multiple holes in the ziplock bag.

Step 2. Seal the broccoli in the bag & refrigerate it

use a ziplock bag to store broccoli
Place the broccoli in the perforated ziplock bag and refrigerate to keep it fresh for 2 to 3 days
  • Place the broccoli whole in the perforated ziplock bag. You need not wash the broccoli before storing it.
  • Seal the bag and place it in the fresh zone or crisper of your fridge.

Broccoli stored this way should stay fresh for 2 to 3 days.

Method 4: Refrigerate Florets in an Airtight Container

Another way to store broccoli and have it ready for cooking is to separate the florets and store them in an airtight container. You’ll need to treat the florets first with saline water, then store them correctly to keep the color and texture intact.

Things you’ll need:

things needed to store broccoli

  • Broccoli head
  • Sharp knife
  • Chopping board
  • Large bowl
  • Distilled or filtered water – 1 cup
  • Salt – ½ teaspoon
  • Airtight container

Note: It’s best to use distilled or filtered water to make sure there are no impurities in the water that can shorten the shelf life of your broccoli.

Step 1. Separate the florets from the bunch

how to store broccoli
Chop off the florets from the main branch
  • Place the broccoli bunch on a chopping board.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut the broccoli florets off the woody base. The stalk remaining on each floret should not be more than 1-inch long.

Step 2. Soak the florets in a saline solution

soak the florets in a saline solution to store broccoli
Dunk the florets in a saline solution
  • Pour 1 cup of distilled or filtered water into a large bowl. Since you need to submerge the florets completely in water, increase the quantity of water if needed.
  • Add ½ teaspoon of salt for every 1 cup of water.
  • Mix well until the salt dissolves completely.
  • Soak the broccoli florets in the saline solution for 5 minutes. This will also help get rid of any germs and impurities stuck on the broccoli.

Step 3. Transfer the florets to an airtight container & refrigerate it

refrigerate in an airtight box to store broccoli
Extract the florets from the saline solution, shake off any excess water and refrigerate
  • Use a pair of tongs to transfer the florets to an airtight container. Shake off any excess water from the florets before you put them into the container.
  • Seal the container and refrigerate it.

Your broccoli will stay fresh and green for 3 to 5 days.

# Long Term (12 to 18 months)

Method 1: Blanch and Freeze

If you are one of those who absolutely hate wasting food, then freezing your broccoli is the way to go. Broccoli can easily retain its texture and flavor when blanched and frozen for a long time.

Blanching will help kill any bacteria and deactivate the enzymes responsible for the aging of vegetables. Transferring the broccoli straight from boiling water to ice water will stall the cooking process and ready the florets for year-long storage. This method can also be used to store celery and to preserve carrots for up to 1 year.

Things you’ll need:

things needed to store broccoli

  • Broccoli florets
  • Distilled water
  • Ice cubes

Step 1. Boil the broccoli florets

blanch in hot water to store broccoli
Blanch the broccoli florets in hot water
  • Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water. Put it over high heat.
  • Once the water comes to a boil, add in the broccoli florets. You can also add ½ teaspoon of salt to the water before putting in the broccoli. The salt will keep the broccoli’s color intact.
  • Let the broccoli simmer over medium heat for 3 minutes.
  • Once done, strain out the water and quickly proceed to the next step.

Step 2. Quickly transfer them to ice water

dunk the blanched florets in a bowl of ice cold water to store broccoli
Strain and then dunk them in a bowl of ice cold water
  • Put a handful of ice cubes in a big bowl.
  • Add 2 cups of cold water.
  • Quickly transfer the broccoli florets from the hot water to the ice water.
  • Let the florets sit in the ice bath for 3 minutes. Use a pair of tongs to toss the florets to ensure that all the parts are exposed to the cold water.

Step 3. Seal them in a ziplock bag & put it in the refrigerator

seal the florets in a ziplock bag to store broccoli
Seal the broccoli florets in a ziplock bag and freeze
  • One-by-one, place the florets in a ziplock bag.
  • Insert a straw in one side of the bag and seal the remaining portion, as shown in the image above.
  • Suck all the air out of the bag using the straw.
  • Quickly remove the straw and seal the bag completely.
  • Place the bagged broccoli in your freezer until needed.

You can add frozen broccoli directly to your stir-fries. If you need to thaw it first, drop the florets in normal water and let it sit for 5 minutes, then use them.

Frozen broccoli will stay good for up to 12 months.

Tips

  • Wash the broccoli only when you are ready to use it.
  • When buying broccoli, look for a bunch that is dark green. If it has yellow patches, it is mature and will be tough and woody in texture.
  • When storing homegrown broccoli, cut off the head from the plant early in the morning when the weather is cool and immediately store it in the refrigerator.
  • It is preferable to freeze broccoli in a low-temperature freezer rather than a frost-free one. Frost-free freezers change their temperature periodically to melt accumulated ice. The temperature fluctuations are not suitable for the broccoli and will shorten its shelf life.

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