Although delicious and nutritious, broccoli has a deserved reputation as a hard vegetable to keep fresh. If stored wrongly, broccoli can go from crispy and fresh to unappetizing in a day or two. However, with some storage techniques, you can keep this vegetable fresh for five to seven days (and if you want to freeze it, it lasts longer). To get the most out of broccoli and eliminate waste in your kitchen, see Step 1 to get started!
Method 1 of 3: Storing Broccoli for Quick Use
Step 1. Make a bouquet of broccoli
An unconventional way, but one that works well for keeping vegetables fresh, is similar to care for keeping flowers alive and radiant. Simply place the bouquet, stem side down, in a glass or vase half filled with water. The part with the shrubs (the head) must be outside the pot. Put in the fridge. When storing broccoli in this way, it lasts from five to seven days.
To further increase freshness, cover the “head” of the broccoli with a plastic food bag. Pierce the bag so that air can circulate. Change water daily
Step 2. Wrap the vegetables in a damp paper towel
Another option for keeping broccoli fresh mimics the tactic used in the veggie section of supermarkets. Fill a spray-valve bottle (not used for bleach or other cleaning product) with cold water and gently spray water on top of the broccoli. Lightly wrap the vegetables in paper towels so that they absorb some of the moisture. Keep broccoli in the fridge. They should stay fresh for about three days.
Do not wrap the paper towel too tightly and do not keep the vegetables in a closed container. Broccoli needs air to stay fresh
Step 3. Keep vegetables in a ventilated bag
If you don't have the patience to do the above methods, don't worry - it's reasonably easy to keep broccoli fresh with nothing but a simple plastic bag. Just put the vegetables in the plastic bag, close and make several holes in the plastic to ensure air circulation. Always leave the vegetables in the refrigerator. Broccoli should stay fresh for a few days with this method.
Step 4. Wash home-grown broccoli, but do not wash out-grown broccoli
When it comes to storing broccoli, a little moisture is welcome, but too much moisture can be harmful. Too much water can cause mold in a few days, turning a fresh vegetable into something completely unsafe for consumption. For this reason, avoid washing broccoli purchased outside, as they have already been washed and dried, and do not need additional cleaning. However, you “will” want to wash your home-grown broccoli to eliminate small insects and garden debris. After washing them, be sure to dry them very well to avoid mold.
To wash home-grown broccoli, mix in a large bowl with warm (not hot) water and a few teaspoons of white wine vinegar. Let the broccoli soak for approximately 15 minutes to kill any insects and remove any dirt that may be hidden between the foils, which are tightly joined. Remove from sauce, rinse with cold water and dry completely before refrigerating
Step 5. Put the broccoli in the fridge as soon as possible
Regardless of the way you choose to store this vegetable, something must always repeat itself - you must refrigerate it as soon as you can. Some sources recommend that even fresh broccoli, purchased at the supermarket, should go to the refrigerator within 30 minutes of purchase. The faster you put the broccoli in the refrigerator, the lesser the risk of the vegetable losing its firmness, crunchy texture, and the longer its durability.
Method 2 of 3: Freezing Broccoli for Long-Term Consumption
Step 1. Boil water and prepare a bowl of ice water and ice cubes
The methods we've outlined above are not suitable for storing broccoli for consumption in a short period of time, but if you have a lot of broccoli and you know you won't be able to consume it in time, consider freezing. Frozen broccoli can last for an entire year, so you'll have plenty of time to incorporate them into your dishes before they go bad. However, freezing to freeze broccoli isn't just about tossing it in the freezer and forgetting it's there - it needs to be prepared for that first in a process called bleaching. To start, you will need a large pot of boiling water and a large bowl of water and ice cubes.
Step 2. Cut the broccoli florets into small pieces
While waiting for the water to boil, use a simple knife or crescent to cut the broccoli into small pieces. Chunks should be no larger than an inch, with stem less than an inch as well. Dividing the foils into small pieces is important - if you don't, the boiling water can bleach unevenly, bleaching more on the edges of the vegetable than on the inside.
You can even use your hands to break the broccoli if you like. Go taking pieces from the top and pulling from the main stalk, so you get a bouquet of florets (the “bush” part) and a shorter stalk. If the foils are more than an inch apart, separate one more time
Step 3. Boil the broccoli pieces for three minutes
Once you have separated the broccoli pieces into even smaller pieces, pour them into boiling water to whiten them. They don't need to boil for long - three minutes is enough. Always stir to ensure that all pieces are being bleached in the same way.
The purpose of bleaching is to help preserve the broccoli when it's frozen. All vegetables contain enzymes and bacteria that can change the color, texture and flavor of vegetables and make them unappetizing after freezing. Bleaching kills bacteria and inhibits enzymes, which allows broccoli to retain its original properties and delicious taste once frozen
Step 4. Cool the broccoli pieces for three minutes
Once the broccoli has been boiled for three minutes, drain it in a colander or sieve. Then, after the hot water has drained and there is no risk of scalding, immediately throw the pieces into the bowl of water and ice cubes. Allow them to soak up the ice water for approximately three minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure all pieces are in contact with the ice water.
Cold water is used to stop the broccoli from cooking. Vegetables are boiled for bleaching and not to be cooked - if the broccoli continues to cook, it will become soft and unappetizing. If placed directly in the freezer after boiling, the broccoli will not cool down as quickly as when it comes into direct contact with ice cold water, so this last option is the best choice for our purposes
Step 5. Drain and dry
After the broccoli has been immersed in ice water for three minutes (they should be as cold as the water), pour it into a colander and let it rest quickly. While this occurs, stir the drainer to help drain all the water. After a minute or two, press down on a clean cloth or paper towel to remove any excess water.
Step 6. Store in a sealed plastic bag in the freezer
Transfer the broccoli pieces to an airtight plastic bag and attach a tag with the bleaching date. Remove excess air from the bag, close it and place it in the freezer. Ready! Once frozen, you can keep the vegetables for up to a year.
- In order for frozen broccoli to have maximum durability, avoid “frost-free” freezers, as these have above-zero temperature cycles to melt the ice in the compartment, which can reduce the durability of the broccoli.
- Apparatuses suitable for sealing vacuum packages are great options for freezing vegetables. By removing all the air from the bag or container that the broccoli is stored in, the shelf life of the food can increase and the vegetable can be even fresher than if it were frozen with standard methods. However, these devices usually cost more than R$ 200.00.
- For many recipes (especially breads and pies), there is no need to defrost the vegetables before cooking, as the food can release moisture and interfere with the final result. As for recipes that call for thawed broccoli, all you have to do is soak the vegetables in room temperature water for a few minutes and you're done.
Method 3 of 3: Choosing Fresh Broccoli
Step 1. Look for foils with a very strong dark green color
If you want to have fresh, crunchy and delicious broccoli in your fridge, the ideal is to start by choosing the freshest vegetables possible. Whether buying it at a supermarket or harvesting directly from your garden, it is good to know the characteristics of a fresh and healthy plant so that you can choose the best option. To start with, try analyzing the small bushes on the head of broccoli - They are called “florets”. The best broccoli florets should be dark green in color.
Breed by yellow florets or spots - this is a sign that the broccoli is gone and about to bloom, which makes the plant firm and tough
Step 2. Look for rapiers that are the size of a match head
Another thing to consider when choosing broccoli is the individual size of the foils - they're small and barely distinguishable from each other, or they're big and full. Ideally, you should only be able to see a few florets smaller than a match head - this is a sign that the plant is mature but not overdone.
This is not to say that you should run away from broccoli that only have small florets. These plants won't hurt you and they don't taste bad - for example, most frozen broccoli in the supermarket don't have large rapiers
Step 3. Feel if the broccoli head is firm
The texture of this veggie is key - nothing beats crunchy broccoli on a hot summer day, but nothing is more disgusting than a piece of soft, bubblegum-textured broccoli. Don't be afraid to use your hands when choosing broccoli. Gently squeeze or twist the top of the vegetable. Typically, the best options are tough and firm, but not completely inflexible.
Step 4. For home grown broccoli, harvest in the morning and refrigerate immediately
When you buy the vegetable at the market, it has already been harvested by you, so the harvest is out of your control. However, when you grow your own broccoli at home, the control of “how” or “when” is completely yours, so take this opportunity. Generally, to have the freshest and best-tasting broccoli, the ideal time is in the morning, when the temperature is at its lowest. Cut broccoli to stem height and transfer immediately to refrigerator to preserve freshness.