3 Surefire Signs Your Broccoli Has Gone Bad

Broccoli is one of the most common vegetables on the dinner table. And for good reason; it’s a versatile staple vegetable that’s available in abundance in almost every grocery store and is a delicious way to pack in your daily vitamins and fiber. But if you’ve found yourself with a head that was bought a little too long ago, you may be wondering how to tell if broccoli is bad.

How to Store Broccoli

The best broccoli has tender florets and firm, slightly crunchy stalks. But if you store it incorrectly, those florets can become shriveled, and the stalks can get soft and rubbery. Broccoli lasts the longest stored in the fridge, so skip the counter or pantry. Once you bring your head of broccoli home from the store, loosely wrap it in a plastic bag, produce bag, or another perforated bag, keeping the stalk end out.

In the crisper drawer, broccoli will keep l for 3 to 5 days. You can also wrap the stalk end in a slightly damp paper towel to extend the broccoli’s life a bit further, about 4 to 7 days.

How to Tell if Broccoli Is Bad

We’ve all found ourselves holding a forgotten head of broccoli that seems a bit questionable when it comes to freshness. If you’re unsure if your broccoli is good to go, there are three ways to tell if it’s time to toss it. If you’re still unsure, remember, when in doubt, toss it out. Food waste is bad, but getting sick from eating spoiled food is worse.


Start by closely inspecting the florets and stalks. Look for any patches or mold or little black dots; this is a sure sign it’s time to throw your broccoli out. Also, keep an eye out for any yellowing or sprouting.

If the tiny bunds on your broccoli look like they’re about to bloom, that’s a key indicator that it’s past its prime. Any brown areas or sections of florets that look dried out or shriveled won’t be tasty either.


Broccoli is known for having a, shall we say, unique scent. But fresh, raw broccoli usually isn’t too intense. If you get close and notice a strong smell, that’s an indicator that the vegetable is rotting. When bacteria start to break down broccoli, it releases an unpleasant smell that is much more pungent than the smell you’re used to with broccoli.


Fresh broccoli should feel spritely and firm. The florets should be tightly packed together, and the stalk should be a vibrant green. If the florets easily bend and come apart, or the stalk feels wilted and bendy, your broccoli is on its way out.

Broccoli that is starting to go bad will feel dry, and the cut end of the stalk will look parched and white. If there are no other signs of spoilage, but the texture of your broccoli is not quite right, there’s a quick trick you can do to get your broccoli back on track for dinner tonight.

How to Revive Limp Broccoli

If your broccoli is looking limp but not spoiled, there’s a quick trick to revive it to its former glory. First, cut your broccoli into bite-sized pieces. If you want to use the stalk, use a vegetable peeler to shave off the fibrous outer layer, and then cut it into small, bite-sized pieces.

Fill a salad spinner with the stainer inside the bowl with cold water and toss in a few ice cubes. Plunge your broccoli into the ice water and let sit for about 10-15 minutes. Lift the strainer from the bowl and drain the broccoli over the sink. This should revitalize the broccoli with some of its former snap.


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