How long does broccoli last? Well, the exact answer depends on whether it is raw or cooked. Anyhow, we will talk about both.
But what is it anyway? Where did it come from?
Broccoli originated from the Italian word, “brocollo” which means, “the flowering crest of a cabbage”. It is perhaps the reason why its crown/head is usually the edible part, unlike the latter. Or is it? It is green in color and belongs to the family of cabbage.
Have you ever wondered how the stems taste, too? Well, you’d better save them for your next recipe since they are as nutritious as the florets! They may not be as colorful nor attractive than the crown but why don’t you give them a chance for dinner for them to prove their worth.
Here’s a more exciting news! Leaves can be eaten too! Admittedly, a lot of you threw them before. But it’s better to be late than never. So start planning your next broccoli leaves meal now.
Admit it, you had hoarded on this when you were trying to lose weight. We were told it is packed with nutrients, but low in calories. And we know that is true. You arrived home from shopping with bags of them. You impulsively bought bunches because a celebrity revealed she lost a lot of weight by eating broccoli for lunch and dinner.
Naturally, you’re not going to consume all of them in two meals. So you suddenly thought, “How long am I going to keep them in my refrigerator?”
As much as possible, you want to eat them right away, while they’re fresh. But this is like boiling in the ocean, so storing them solves your dilemma.
We’re not going to keep you waiting.
They should be fine in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Whereas, if cooked, you have 3-5 days, as well, to consume them. Proper sealing is a must.
Before refrigerating it, remember that it’s a basic rule not to wash it because the excess water may produce molds.
Methods to store raw broccoli:
- The most common way of storing is to mist and wrap loosely with a damp paper towel and refrigerate. You may wonder why it should be loose. Just like us, they need air too, for freshness.
- Another unconventional way, which you probably haven’t heard about, is to make a bouquet. You heard it right! A bouquet of broccoli in your refrigerator.
- Put it in a bowl or glass with water, just enough to soak the stem. To reserve the crispness of the crown/head, cover it loosely with a plastic bag with holes to let air pass through. Don’t forget to change the water daily, just like what you do with the flowers in your living room.
- Not much time and patience for the above methods? Just use an ordinary plastic bag with a few holes, particularly in the head area for air passage. Don't forget to seal it. And just like the other approaches, it should be done loosely. Broccolis don’t want to be suffocated, too.
- If you have fresh ones that you just harvested from your backyard, there’s a different way to store them. You don’t want soil and insects in your refrigerator, do you?
We previously mentioned that wetness can cause mold. However, you need to wash your homegrown vegetable to remove dirt.
Soak them for 15 minutes in a big bowl with a mixture of a few teaspoons of white vinegar and warm water. Remove and rinse with cold water and dry them thoroughly before refrigerating.
What if they are kept in the freezer? Can they even be frozen?
Absolutely! They can be frozen for 10-12 months if properly sealed.
Freezing Broccoli For Long Term Storage
Sometimes you think you ate enough of them and want to consume cauliflowers for now instead. Or maybe you bought a lot because it was on sale. In cases like these, do you know that you can actually freeze them for future consumption?
But we do not just simply throw them in the freezer. Basically, it is done first with a process called Blanching.
Blanching is a method usually done prior to freezing vegetables or fruits to maintain freshness. There are two ways to blanch which are called boiling and steaming.
- When boiling, prepare two pots or large bowls. One is for boiling water, and another one is for ice water. Keep the container with ice water on the side.
- Cut it into small chunks. The head should not be more than an inch, as well as the stem. Head is measured across and stem, lengthwise. Dividing them is essential because they may be blanched unevenly, being the outer side cooked more than the inner side.
- Boil the bits for 3 minutes or less. Stir intermittently to make sure the pieces are evenly blanched.
- After boiling, drain them with a strainer or colander. Immediately dump them then into the bowl of ice-cold water. Three minutes should be okay to soak them. Stir periodically to ensure all the pieces will come in contact with the ice-cold water. This is needed to avoid continuous cooking. If it does, they become very soft and unappetizing. We don’t want overcooked broccoli, do we?
- After soaking in the ice water for 3 minutes, they should be as cold as the ice water, drain using a strainer or colander to remove excess water. You can toss it occasionally to drain the trapped moisture thoroughly.
- Pat the bits with a paper towel or clean rag for complete drying.
Transfer them into a bag with an airtight seal and write today’s date. Remember to squeeze the excess air out of the plastic, seal it and toss them in the freezer.
This is another way to prepare the broccoli chunks before freezing. Just heat them in a vegetable steamer and follow the process like when boiling. This time, both stem and florets can be cooked together.
Ways to cook broccoli
They can be eaten raw, too. But if you prefer flavored and tender pieces of this nutritious vegetable, then there are ways to cook them.
Whichever way you wish to, there is one general rule that you should follow. That is to slice it into bite-sized pieces. Slice it through the stem, separating from the head. Break the crown/head into chunks, using your hands or a knife. In this case, doing the former is more comfortable.
As for the stem, remove the leaves or any blemishes. You can remove the tougher outer skin with a peeler or a knife if you prefer it, but it’s not necessary. Moreover, the bottom part is usually too dry and hard, and you don’t want to chew a piece of vegetable like gum, right? So slice a half inch from the bottom and discard.
This part, regardless if sliced into the same size as the florets, takes longer to cook. So you have to separate them in another bowl. Before cooking, wash them separately with running water, as they are placed in a bowl and cooked separately.
- Blanching. If you are craving and couldn’t wait to be satisfied, this method is easy and quick. Prepare a bowl of ice-cold water on the side. Boil water in a pot and add salt, according to the quantity of your broccoli chunks. Add them into the boiling water and let it boil for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes until tender. Remove and plunge them right away into a bowl with ice water. Again, to avoid overcooking.
Boil the same water, and put the stem chunks. Let it boil for 1 ½ to 2 minutes, or 30 seconds more if you want them softer. In case you forget, the stem is harder than the florets. So naturally, that's the reason why you cook it earlier than the latter.
Now you’re ready to devour them! Or if you have a little more patience for a few minutes, make a frittata or add some other ingredients for a salad.
- Sautéing. This requires very dry broccoli pieces. Grease a skillet with oil and let it heat to medium-high heat. Add the florets and a pinch of salt, or depending on how you want your broccoli to taste. Stir frequently and add the stems after a minute. Continue cooking until tender.
- Roasting. This method takes a little longer than the others. So, if you’re hungry as a wolf and wanted to suppress it, you might want to consider the quicker ways to cook your broccoli. But roasted broccoli is irresistible. Plus you can eat it in many ways, too. Like a topping to a pizza, or a side dish or a warm or cold salad, so it's undoubtedly worth the wait.
When roasting, both the florets and the stem chunks are cooked at the same time.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Toss the bits with oil and season them with salt and pepper and garlic if you wish to. Roast for about 20 minutes until the edges are crispy and the stems are tender.
It is its most delicious state when it’s served warm.
- Steaming. It is nothing different from the regular steaming you do. In fact, the nutrients are more preserved with this method than boiling.
Fill a pot with water and insert a steamer basket. Make sure the bottom doesn’t touch the water. Simmer over medium-high heat. Add the florets and stems and steam for 4 minutes, or until tender.
Cooking frozen broccoli
You couldn’t help but think of dinner. On your way home from work, you were reminded of your frozen broccoli that you bought a few months ago. It’s time to cook some of them. You are already imagining yourself feasting on them with a fresh lemon juice.
Cooking frozen broccoli is easy because it was already pre-cooked. Simply put in a pan, put water, cover and boil until tender.
Another way is to let it sit in a covered bowl filled with hot water. To speed up the process, you can change the water a few times. Drain the water afterwards. You can mix it with other ingredients, and you're ready to feast.
How to cook broccoli leaves
Are you shaking your head now, thinking how much broccoli leaves you have wasted for so long? Now that you know they serve an importance to your kitchen too, here is a starter. We mean, some ways to cook them.
By the way, its equally nutritious cousin, kale is comparable to this surprisingly edible green leaves. So don’t be surprised if it’s always compared to the former in this section. Here we go!
- Blending. Kale smoothies are becoming a favorite these days. Maybe one of these days, broccoli leaves smoothies will become more. As a general rule, wash them first. Cut them into small parts and blend. You can add some fruits like pineapple, banana, mango and milk for flavor.
- Sautéing. Like the other greens, garlic is a must here if you want a delicious sautéed broccoli leaves. Cut the leaves from the stem and roll it and slice lengthwise. You can choose any size you want but ½ inch wide is fine. Put oil in a heated pan and add garlic until it turns golden brown and becomes fragrant. Add leaves and stir occasionally. Add ¼ cup water, cover and steam until they become tender and color changes to dark green. Remove pan from the heat while adding salt and pepper.
- Roasting. Yep! These can also be roasted like the other parts. It’s easy as baking kale chips. Cut off the leaves and toss with oil and bake it at 375 degrees until they become crisp. You can check it after 4-5 minutes when you hear a popping sound. Your crunchy broccoli leaves chips are now ready to serve.
- Stir-frying. Next time you stir fry your favorite meat with other vegetables, try including these. Seasoned with spices like salt, garlic and pepper, you have a nutritious and yum stir-fried dish.
Benefits of Broccoli
We cannot deny it has become an all-time favorite especially when trying to lose weight. It’s rich in vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber that is known for its ability to relieve constipation.
Here’s a list of some vitamins and minerals found in them:
- Potassium- a mineral that is known for its ability to treat high blood pressure and prevent stroke.
- Vitamin k- fat-soluble vitamins that are essential for blood-clotting process.
- Vitamin C- one of the most famous vitamins with a lot of benefits. These include protection against immune system deficiencies; cardiovascular diseases, acne, etc.
- Folate- it is a B vitamin that is necessary for cell growth and metabolism.
- Vitamin A- there’s such a long list of the benefits of this vitamin to our body. But most of all, it is known for the improvement of our vision, as well as our skin.
- Calcium- is the mineral that is essential for the bones and teeth.
- Magnesium- A mineral that helps keep blood pressure normal, heart rhythm steady and bones strong.
Choosing the best broccoli
When buying any vegetables, fruits, meat or fish, we want to make sure we get the fresh ones. When it comes to this nutritious vegetable, there are also factors to consider to choose the best ones.
- Check the color of the head if it’s bright green. It should be even without major spots of yellow or brown.
- The stem should be firm.
- The head/crown should be tight and not elastic. Soft stem and lame florets are a sign of old broccoli.
- Look for black spots on the stem. This may indicate worms.
According to an old saying, “A little knowledge is dangerous”. Indeed, learning the importance of knowing how long this vegetable lasts is necessary.
You probably haven’t thought about it since now. You have been consuming it for a long time now but never bothered to know. You have been preparing it for your children since they were babies but never cared to be informed.
Sure you may follow your intuition. “A mother’s instinct is always right”, a woman’s favorite quote. You’re no blind not to recognize a not so fresh vegetable. That’s easy as pie.
However, there are circumstances when we overlook at some things. Like, when we are in a hurry or when we are mad, too happy, or busy talking on the phone. And if that happens, food-borne diseases can occur which is the last thing that we want to happen.
So next time you’re hoarding, ask yourself first, “How long does broccoli last?”