The Absolute Best Ways To Keep Broccoli Fresh

Broccoli smells bad enough when it's cooked, but when a forgotten broccoli crown starts to rot in the back of the fridge, the smell can be unbearable. Broccoli is best eaten within a day or two like most vegetables, but if it needs to be stored for longer, there are a few things that it needs to stay fresh.

Broccoli is a hardy, cold-weather, cruciferous vegetable that doesn't mind the cold temperatures of refrigerator storage (via Food Network). The things that will keep it from staying fresh and crisp are overly dry air and ethylene gas, produced naturally by most fruits as they ripen. According to the University of Maine, ethylene gas is a compound that jumpstarts the ripening process in fruit. As fruit comes closer to ripening, they increase the output which speeds the process up further.

The amount being produced differs by variety. According to The University of Maine reports that fruits like McIntosh apples and bananas tend to produce far more ethylene gas which means that they can be difficult to store once they've ripened. This means that they may not get along with other produce and that, according to Food Network, improper storage could cause them to decay far more quickly.

How to store broccoli

The best way to preserve broccoli's color, texture, and flavor is to store it in a cool part of the refrigerator in an unsealed plastic bag (via Food Network). It can be kept in a crisper drawer but should not be stored with fruits that are going to let out ethylene gasses. This method protects the broccoli from dry air without leaving it overexposed to its own ethylene gas that would build up in a sealed bag. EatingWell notes that broccoli doesn't like to be too wet either. Any excess moisture could turn a floret into mush. It also serves as a breeding ground for mold. Any moisture should be wiped off with a paper towel or rag before storing the broccoli.

Broccoli can also be stored for longer periods of time through freezing. The broccoli should be cut into florets before being blanched and dried. Blanching quickly boils the florets before immersing them in an ice water bath for equal time to help preserve the nutrients and color of the broccoli. Skipping this step can cause your broccoli to come out tasting bitter, and looking discolored, wilted, and all-around sad (via Gardening Channel). Blanched florets can then be frozen on a sheet tray before being stored in a freezer-safe bag. Technology hasn't solved all of the problems of broccoli storage yet, but with some careful planning, it can be preserved for a reasonable amount of time.