How to store broccoli so it actually stays crisp

Freeze it and it'll last for months

Published March 4, 2022 6:05PM (EST)

 (Julia Gartland / Food52)
(Julia Gartland / Food52)

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A firm, vibrant head of broccoli is a thing of beauty. Just looking at it in my fridge makes me feel like my hair is shinier, skin is glowier, and my gut is healthier. (That's how vegetable consumption works, right?). But a limp bunch of fresh broccoli is me on my worst day — dull, tangled hair, dry skin, stained grey sweatsuit, the whole nine yards. Which is to say, no one should have to interact with sad, soft broccoli. 

So how do you avoid the latter? It's as simple as storing fresh broccoli properly! This means that when you bring fresh broccoli home from the farmers' market or grocery store, don't just throw it in the back of your fridge, no matter how tired and desperate you are to just collapse on the couch and turn on Netflix. Treat broccoli like a beautiful bouquet of flowers sent from a secret admirer. Fill a glass or small pitcher with ice water and place the entire stalk of broccoli in the water. There's no need to cover it — broccoli requires air circulation so that it can breathe, so let it all hang out.

The other way to store broccoli is by loosely wrapping the broccoli stems in damp paper towels. Although this method is slightly less eco-friendly, it helps to ensure that the dark green veggie is getting the hydration it needs. Just be sure that the paper towels aren't soaking wet; any excess moisture will cause the broccoli to get moldy quickly. Consume fresh broccoli within three days; after that, it'll start to become limp and no one wants that.

How to store frozen broccoli

To extend the shelf life even further, freeze broccoli. To do this, cut the broccoli into florets and quickly blanch it in a pot of boiling water. After a couple of minutes, transfer the broccoli to a prepared ice bath, which will immediately stop the cooking and preserve the dark green color. Pat the cooked broccoli dry with a paper towel or dish towel to absorb the excess water. Transfer the broccoli to an airtight container or sealed bag and lay it flat on a shelf in the freezer for up to three months. While it's not unsafe to eat frozen broccoli after a few months, its quality will start to deteriorate a bit and it may get freezer burn.

By Kelly Vaughan

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Broccoli Food Food52 How-to Vegetables