This morning, I purchased a bag of “organic,” pre-chopped, pre-washed broccoli. Individual pieces comprised less than an inch of stalk with attached branches and florettes. I tossed the bag and transferred the broccoli to a Tupperware-like storage bowl as soon as I got home (about half an hour after removing the bag from the store’s open-air vegetable cooling section). The broccoli showed no external sign of spotting, yellowing or bruising.
A few hours later, I removed five pieces from the bowl, washed them and cut them up. The inside of the first four pieces looked as pristine as the outside; the fifth, however, showed a few black spots on the inside of the stem and lower part of the branches (see image). The flesh around these spots was not unusually soft, discolored, or mottled. The flip side of this small stalk showed no black spots.
Another post to this forum (Are those black spots on the inside of kaki safe to eat?) asked about a similar situation with kaki (persimmon). Responses suggested that inner discoloration was not unusual for this fruit and did not render it unsafe. (Oxidation was suggested as a possible cause, which seemed a bit odd given the fruit’s moderate acidity.)
There are sufficient differences between broccoli and kaki that I won’t generalize from this response to my situation. In addition, the kaki discoloration shown in an image from the OP was diffuse—-not concentrated into distinct spots.
My best guess is that the spots on the inside of my broccoli reflect mold. But as this is the first time I’ve purchased pre-cut broccoli, I don’t know how likely that is nor whether such spots are commonplace for precut vegetables. I’m also curious about the mechanism by which mold could form on the inside of the plant but not on the outside.
I hope that someone with knowledge about broccoli can weigh in on the likely cause of these interior black spots. If the most likely cause is mold, then knowing whether there’s a strain of mold that’s particularly likely to be the culprit would be helpful. The Holy Grail answer, of course, would include information on the likely virulence and spread of the substance, since I munched on several unblemished pieces of the broccoli before I encountered the piece with spots. Thanks in advance for any input!