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How should raw broccoli be stored, to preserve it the longest? (without blanching it)

I often have broccoli turn bad in a few days, either the outer layer turns dark and slimy, or the buds turn yellowish-white (some mixture between wilting and going moldy)

  • leave it shrink-wrapped in plastic, if it came that way?
  • wrap it in something else?
  • put it in water?
  • put it in the refrigerator?
  • put it somewhere else dark?
  • cut it into florets?

The broccoli florets will be served raw. So blanching, steaming, flash-freezing, are not desired.
I am aware of these preservation methods, but for this task, I am looking only for methods that preserve the broccoli in its raw form.

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    Can you be more specific than just 'a few days' and give a number (or range) of days? And how are you storing the broccoli now, what way of storing them results in these 'few days'? Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 11:26
  • I have not gathered reliable statistics, I cannot really narrow the current freshness range down more specifically than [more than 1.5 days ... less than a week]. I tried storing them in the refrigerator, or outside, unwrapped or wrapped. I do not know which if these worked best, variance was too high.
    – HugoRune
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 12:12

3 Answers 3

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If the broccoli come wrapped in plastic, leave them wrapped until you consume them.

As can be read in this interesting blog (in Italian), broccoli are among the veggies with the highest gas exchange rate: they are essentially flowers which, once cut from the plant and its supply of water and nutrient, start consuming what they have in order to stay vital. That plastic foil keeps the amount of oxygen and CO2 to which the broccoli are exposed to the best amount in order to keep it in good state as long as possible.

The same blog also mentions that from the moment they are harvested until the moment they are put on the shelf the broccoli are refrigerated, which is also what you can do to increase their shelf life.

As additional info, this site(in Dutch) states that broccoli is among the veggies that should be stored in the refrigerator.

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  • Whenever I saw broccoli for sale in a supermarket or similar it was not refrigerated. Of course I don't know what they did on the way from the farm to the supermarket but supermarkets definitely have the option to store food for sale refrigerated and for broccoli they don't.
    – quarague
    Commented Aug 12, 2023 at 9:46
  • @quarague grocery stores themselves are cooled. That’s why, for example, in some countries eggs are “unrefrigerated” at the store even though they should be refrigerated once you take them home.
    – Sneftel
    Commented Aug 13, 2023 at 6:40
  • Produce shelves are refrigerated from underneath and or have water sprays. That's where half of the cooling in the store comes from. I hate those isles; so cold. If they ain't got that; don't shop there. - We refrigerate our eggs because they can spend all of eternity getting mixed back in after falling off the conveyor belt. They're fine for like six months... not forever.
    – Mazura
    Commented Aug 13, 2023 at 19:10
  • @Sneftel I'm sorry, but you are wrong on both counts. Grocery stores may be air-conditioned, to something like 20-22°C in Europe and 16-8°C in the US. Refrigeration generally is around 6-8°C in Europe and 2-5°C in the US. The reason why eggs in the US generally need to be refrigerated (both in the grocery store and at home) but not in Europe is related to the treatment of the eggs and has nothing to do with temperatures in the grocery store versus at home. I'm sure there is a question on this egg thing here somewhere.
    – quarague
    Commented Aug 21, 2023 at 6:49
  • @quarague source: eggs.ie/recipe-collections/buying-eggs
    – Sneftel
    Commented Aug 21, 2023 at 6:52
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As L.Dutch already wrote, if it's in plastic, keeping it in there is probably the best way of storing it, as their blog post states that broccoli wrapped that way can remain fresh for up to 20 days after harvesting, instead of just 5 days for ones that weren't wrapped. There will always be time between harvesting and you buying the broccoli, so keep in mind that a wrapped broccoli won't stay fresh for 20 days after buying.

Otherwise, the periods you mention in your comment seem pretty 'normal' though. If your broccoli didn't come in plastic wrap, according to my goto Dutch site broccoli stays fresh for about 1-2 days if not refrigerated, and for 3-5 days if refrigerated, without cutting it into florets. Cutting up the broccoli will reduce how long you can keep it.

There is one other way of storing broccoli that keeps coming back across blog posts, and that is the broccoli bouquet:

You can keep your broccoli fresh by placing it in a small vase or cylindrical container with cold water. Place your broccoli stems into a bowl or container with a half-inch of water at the bottom. The broccoli heads should be sticking out of the container. Cover the heads loosely with plastic wrap and place them in the refrigerator. Change out the water each day, and the broccoli will keep for a week in the fridge.

I've never tried this, but it should prolong the 3-5 days it usually lasts when refrigerated to up to a week. It's quite a lot more work though, as you have to refresh the water each day.

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    You may need to trim the bottom of the stem to make sure that it can take in water (which the link didn’t mention). Also, in case of link rot: it recommends setting it in a glass of water, and changing the water each day
    – Joe
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 13:44
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One factor that you can’t easily control is how far you are from broccoli growers, so how long they have already been sitting before you buy them.

When I used to get broccoli from a farm stand, I could easily keep them for a week, as they had been harvested that morning. I kept it refrigerated, and loosely wrapped in a plastic bag (in the bag, but didn’t seal it). I would sometimes place a paper towel over the florets, so they didn’t come into direct contact with the plastic if I wasn’t going to use it in a couple of days. But I should also mention that they were growing a different variety than most grocery stores sold, so I don’t know if that was a factor. (The stem was more round, and it branched off at close to a right angle)

You can also select ones with more stem attached; I find that those sold as ‘florets’ with little stem don’t tend to last quite as long.

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