Broccoli and cauliflower are two delicious veggies that are a staple of healthy kitchens everywhere. But if you can’t use them right away, what’s the best way to keep your broccoli and cauliflower fresh in the days or even weeks to come? Here’s how.
Start at the supermarketHow long your broccoli and cauliflower will stay fresh depends a lot on how fresh they were when you bought them. Try to choose broccoli with tight, green buds and cauliflower with firm, evenly-colored heads. Both your broccoli and your cauliflower should feel fairly heavy for their size. These traits are all signs of freshness and can help you find veggies that will last the longest in storage.
Choose the right containersFirst of all, you’re going to need something big enough to store a whole, untouched broccoli or cauliflower, so don’t skimp on the size. Secondly, you need something sealable. This can be either a sealable zip-lock bag or a sealable plastic container. If you have multiple vegetables you’d like to store, you’ll need to buy multiple containers, for reasons we’ll get into in the next section.
Store whole and separately
Though it may seem convenient to chop up your broccoli and cauliflower for easier storage, resist the urge! Keep your vegetables as whole as possible to prevent premature browning and wilting. In addition, if you have multiple heads of broccoli and cauliflower, place each in its own separate container. The reason for this is that both broccoli and cauliflower release ethylene when stored, which causes vegetables around them to decay more quickly. Storing each vegetable separately will prevent them from spoiling one another through close contact.
Once each vegetable is separated into its own container, place each in a refrigerator kept below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Each should keep for between one and two weeks, depending on how fresh they were when purchased.
But what if one or two weeks isn’t enough? What if you have so much broccoli or cauliflower that you need your supply to keep for months? Well, you may want to consider freezing your veggies.
To start, you’ll want to clean both your broccoli and cauliflower by soaking them in water for a few minutes. Then, cut both into small chunks. Though a knife or kitchen shears may be needed to cut the broccoli, you should be able to pull the cauliflower apart with your hands once you’ve removed the green base.
Next, prepare a pot of boiling water and a bowl of ice water. Boil the broccoli and cauliflower separately, each for 3-5 minutes, before chilling them in the ice water. Let them both chill for three minutes. This process, known as blanching, kills bacteria and slows enzymes, slowing the decay of the veggies.
Afterwards, place the broccoli and cauliflower in a colander or strainer and allow them to dry. Once the excess water has been drained, put them in freezer bags, squeeze out any excess air, seal, and place those bags in your freezer. With this method, both the broccoli and cauliflower should keep for up to a year!
Things To Keep In Mind
Should I wash my broccoli or cauliflower before storing it?If you’re going to be storing your broccoli or cauliflower using the short-term method described above, you definitely shouldn’t wash the heads prior to storing them. This is because the excess moisture can promote the growth of mold while in the fridge. Instead, only wash your broccoli or cauliflower immediately before you intend to use or eat it. The long-term strategy is a different story. Because you’ll be blanching and freezing your broccoli and cauliflower, they should be much more resistant to mold, so you likely won’t have any problem giving them a quick soak beforehand.
How can I tell if my broccoli or cauliflower has gone bad?You can use a number of strategies to figure out if broccoli or cauliflower has turned. For broccoli, you should start with the smell. If your broccoli has a very strong, pungent odor, it might have already turned. You can also examine the stalk to see if it’s still fresh. When you squeeze the stalk, it should feel firm to the touch, but if it feels soft and limp, it may be a sign the broccoli has gone bad. Finally, there’s the color. Any patches of yellow color should be an immediate warning that the broccoli is past its prime. Though it likely won’t sicken you, it probably won’t taste very good at this stage. Cauliflowers are a bit more tricky. The whole vegetable doesn’t rot at once, so even if part of it is bad, you may be able to salvage the rest. The first sign of spoilage is the appearance of dark speckles on the florets. If there are only a few light speckles, you can simply cut those parts of the cauliflower off and save the rest. However, if there are speckles all over and they appear very dark in color, you may want to examine the cauliflower more closely. One way to do this is to break off a few florets and cut them in half lengthwise. If there are also dark speckles or patches inside the florets, it’s time to throw that cauliflower out. Finally, even if there are no speckles, if your cauliflower feels mushy rather than firm, it’s probably spoiled.
Is it safe to eat or use frozen broccoli or cauliflower after one year?If there are no signs of mold or spoilage, you probably won’t become sick from eating broccoli or cauliflower frozen using the method above. However, after a year, their quality will likely decline quite quickly. As with all vegetables, the sooner you eat or use them after purchase, the better!
Storing Broccoli And Cauliflower Properly
Broccoli and cauliflower are a great addition to any healthy meal or snack. We hope this guide will help you keep your own veggies tasty and fresh for a long time to come!