How To Tell If Cauliflower Has Gone Bad

The truth is that all food goes bad if we have it long enough, and spoilage can take several forms. The trick is to know the warning signs based on food type, and to keep foods fresh as long as possible through proper storage methods.

When it comes to fresh produce, good practices actually start when you're picking out your fruits or vegetables at the supermarket. With cauliflower, for example, Eating Well recommends avoiding any loose or discolored florets.

How long is fresh cauliflower supposed to last? According to Eat By Date, about one to three weeks, assuming good storage. Per Pantry Tips, you can freeze cauliflower if you want to keep it for longer than a few weeks, but the fridge is the best option in most cases, as cauliflower's countertop shelf life is only a few days. If the cauliflower is already wrapped, it's probably best to leave it in its original packaging until you're ready to use it. If it's not, put it in a perforated plastic bag so moisture can escape. Once cooked, however, cauliflower must be kept in an airtight container.

As mentioned earlier, however, even if with good storage you're going to see some signs of spoilage over time. The question is, at what point should you actually throw out your cauliflower? Or, put another way: When is cauliflower no longer safe to eat?

Telltale signs of cauliflower spoilage

All foods exposed to air will eventually suffer from oxidative decay or degradation. As The Kitchn notes, cauliflower does see oxidative brown spots naturally, but it's not time to toss the cauliflower until the color turns from light brown to dark brown or black. That's the point of no return.

Other telltale signs of spoilage for cauliflower include mold, off-smells, slimy texture, or soft spots. Per Does it Go Bad?, cauliflower is supposed to be firm to the touch. Once you see soft spots or examples of slimy texture, the cauliflower should definitely be thrown out.

Mold is never a good sign in food, and as Eat Like No One Else observes, it's always best to be cautious and discard moldy cauliflower rather than take any chances — especially if the mold is black. Bad-smelling food is also a warning sign worth heeding. I Really Like Food counsels consumers to trust their nose implicitly, as off-smells are typically a sign of bacterial spoilage.