Eating fresh vegetables is part of a healthy diet, but sometimes we forget the things we bought at the market. By the time you find any of them, you'll have to find out if they're still good to consume or not. Many vegetables are shriveled, gooey and smelly when they go bad. Learn more about the signs to look for in vegetables to decide when to throw them away and when you can save some by cutting out the bad parts.
Method 1 of 3: Recognizing Which Vegetables Are Spoiled
Step 1. See if the green leaves have different colored spots or any odor
Leafy vegetables wither after a few days, especially if they are not packaged. This is normal and does not mean they are spoiled. The spoiled leaves will turn yellow, gooey and have an unpleasant odor.
You can revitalize the leaves by soaking their stems in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes. This doesn't always work. If they are still down after gravy, throw them away
Step 2. See if the asparagus has color changes on the tips
You can find out if the asparagus is good or not by the tip, because it is usually the first to go bad. It will turn dark green or black and wilt or gooey. If that happens, you can still eat the asparagus, just cut the ends and cook the stem.
If the whole asparagus is dark green or black, throw it away
Step 3. Look for signs of sagging and dampness in the pods
Fresh pods only last a few days, so keep an eye on them. When they spoil, they will be soft, flaccid or gooey.
- Put the beans in the refrigerator to increase the time to consume them.
- The spoiled boiled green beans will smell sour.
Step 4. See if the broccoli is soft or has a different color
The stem of fresh broccoli is hard and the flowers are green. If it's spoiling, the stem will be soft and the flowers' green will start to turn yellow. Generally, the smell will get stronger and become a little unpleasant.
Step 5. See if the carrots are wilted or gooey
Fresh carrots can last more than a month in the fridge. The mini carrots last a little less because they come peeled and because of the moisture present in the package. When a carrot is spoiled, it will be soft and gooey. If these signs are very subtle, you can still eat them.
Carrots have white spots when they are dehydrated. This is not a sign that they are spoiled, but it is good to consume them soon
Step 6. Look for black spots or bad odors on the cauliflower
The head of the cauliflower should be white, purple or light green and its flowers porous. Spoiled cauliflowers will have black spots. You can cut them out and, if the color is normal white underneath, you can eat the cauliflower.
If the entire head is black, smelly or gooey, throw it away
Step 7. Keep an eye out for the softest, lightest celery
Celery lasts up to a month if kept in the fridge. When celery starts to get bad, it turns white and becomes hollow. The bad celery will contaminate the others and they will be soft and pliable.
Step 8. Look for brown spots on the onions
Large onions, small onions and garlic heads can last up to two months in the fridge, while snack onions only last a few weeks. Ordinary ones can last up to a month out of the fridge. When onions start to spoil, they will have brown or black spots and soft or moldy areas.
You can remove these soft or musty spots and see what the surrounding area looks like. If it is not too soft or with a different color, consume the onion
Step 9. See if the pumpkin is leaking any liquid
Pumpkins are bruised and soft when they are spoiled. Squash can last a few months, while yellow squash last about a week. Any type of pumpkin that is soft, wilted, gooey or moldy has spoiled and should be discarded.
Step 10. Discard potatoes that are green or bitter
This root has natural toxins that are resistant to high cooking temperatures. If it has green spots on the skin, pulp or sprouts, don't eat! Throw them away.
If it tastes bitter, throw it away even without green dots
Method 2 of 3: Practical Food Safety Tips
Step 1. Discard vegetables covered in mold
Some types of mold are good, but the ones present in vegetables can cause illness. Mold withstands the high temperatures we use to cook food and its root can spread throughout the vegetable, even though it is invisible to the naked eye. Overall, it's not very toxic, but the best thing to do is not to consume it.
If you want to try to save the vegetable, cut the area around the mold about 5 cm deep
Step 2. Throw away any vegetables that smell bad
Sometimes, it is possible to see that the vegetable was spoiled just by the smell. It can be weird, smelling bitter or sour as this is not the normal scent. Even if you can't always tell by the smell, any food that smells bad should go to waste.
Step 3. Throw out any sticky vegetables
They shouldn't be sticky or sticky. This indicates that they are spoiling and forming a film full of bacteria. When you touch a vegetable and it feels sticky, throw it away.
Step 4. Be even more careful with canned homemade vegetables
Canning things at home is a great way to preserve vegetables. However, by doing this, you run the risk of getting botulism. Even if it smells or looks normal, the food can still be contaminated. The can or jar will give signals when vegetables are contaminated. If in doubt, throw it away.
- If the jar is leaking, bulging, or swollen, discard the food. The same goes for damaged or cracked packaging.
- Canned vegetables at home should not spray water or foam when opened.
- Any jar left with the lid open or unsealed should have the contents thrown away.
- Throw away any packaging with food that is smelly, weirdly colored or musty.
Step 5. Write down how long you purchased the fresh vegetables
Most vegetables last four days to a week in the fridge. Some last longer. One way to know if they broke is to think about when you bought them. If they've been in the fridge for more than a week, they might be spoiled.
Step 6. Avoid tasting vegetables to see if they are spoiled or not
If you think something has gone wrong, don't prove it to be sure. Even a small amount will already contain enough bacteria to make you sick. If it smells bad, has mold or decay, or you're in doubt, throw it in the trash.
Method 3 of 3: Saving Vegetables With Few Ugly Spots
Step 1. Ignore bruises on most vegetables
These bruises are normal and happen when packing, carrying or even inside the refrigerator. They make vegetables soft or brown in certain spots. You can still eat the vegetable, just remove the ugly part.
Step 2. Cut the parts with different color in the leafy vegetables
Dark green lettuces and vegetables tend to have brown or pink spots on the stems. This is normal. Cut those parts off and consume the rest.
Color changes occur due to excess oxygen, nutrient deficiency or high temperatures
Step 3. Take out small rotten spots
If the vegetable has a small spot that has rotted away, the rest will probably be fine. Cut off the rotten part and inspect the rest. If it's normal, you can consume it.
Rotten spots usually happen when a part of the vegetable is damaged and is more vulnerable to bacteria
Step 4. Consume shriveled or wrinkled vegetables normally
Withered leaves or wrinkled husks do not mean that the vegetable has spoiled, but rather that it has lost moisture. You can fix this with an ice bath or cooking.