What is Broccoli?
Did you know that broccoli belongs to the cabbage family? In fact, it is part of a wider group of plants from the Brassicaceae family. They include: Cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, arugula as well as turnips.
Broccoli has its origin in the Mediterranean region as well as Turkey. Nowadays, cultivation is rife in any cool climate.
In terms of appearance, this vegetable is characterized by edible, dense flower buds which are mostly green. It also has short, cream stalks that are also edible.
There are numerous varieties, some of which include: Romanesco, broccolini as well as rapini.
Common ways of using broccoli
There are numerous cooking methods – steaming, stir-frying, roasting and baking.
Besides being perfect on its own, broccoli pairs well with most dishes. You can incorporate it in salads, stir-fries, roast vegetables, stews, casseroles and soups.
Moreover, this vegetable is popular in gratin dishes whereby cheese is layered on top, before being browned in the oven.
Additionally, you can batter and deep-fry it for the kids. Not only this, it works as a suitable substitute for rice as well as dough. For instance, riced broccoli can work as pizza crust or mash.
Lastly, broccoli is a star in many green smoothies. Blending vegetables works well for those unimpressed with vegetables.
As a cruciferous vegetable, broccoli is loaded with potent antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. It is also a low-caloric food, high in water content and roughage.
Precisely, broccoli contains the following:
- Vitamin C, A, K
- Dietary fiber
- Minerals like phosphorous, potassium, iron, selenium and calcium
- Powerful antioxidants and bioactive elements like sulforaphane and kaempferol
All these nutrients work in tandem to benefit your body immensely.
For instance, vitamin K, calcium and potassium promote healthy bones, collagen formation and teeth development. Besides preventing blood clots, vitamin K actually helps in calcium synthesis in bones.
Apart from this, vitamin C boosts immunity and is crucial in wound healing. Vitamin A, otherwise known as the eye-vitamin, is necessary for healthy eyes. Adequate intake prevents eye diseases associated with aging.
Additionally, it is touted for its cancer-fighting properties. Thanks to the mentioned elements like kaempferol and sulforaphane, they buffer against free radicals, help in fighting inflammation and also support healthy brain cells.
Moreover, they mitigate cardiovascular diseases and lifestyle diseases like diabetes and blood pressure.
Like most fresh vegetables, broccoli has a short shelf life under poor storage conditions. Here is how it lasts under various forms and conditions.
Shelf life of raw florets (at room temperature)
When left at room temperature, fresh broccoli begins to yellow. As such, consume within 3 days at most. In hot, humid areas, it deteriorates faster, within 2 days.
How long does raw broccoli last? (In the fridge)
The vegetable crisper of the fridge comes in handy for raw broccoli. When refrigerating, avoid washing beforehand as the moisture hastens decay. Only use a dry towel to wipe off any soil. Wrap whole florets in paper towel to prevent condensation. Pack in airtight containers.
Well refrigerated raw and whole lasts for 2 weeks. Cut broccoli decays the fastest – use on the same day for best results.
Shelf life of cooked broccoli (in the fridge)
The shelf life of cooked florets depends on the cooking method. Normally, minimal cooking is ideal for most vegetables, in order to retain nutrients.
Store cooked florets in heavy-duty bags. Use within a period of 5-9 days.
How long does broccoli last? (In the freezer)
Freezing is ideal for long-term storage. Before freezing, blanch the florets in boiling water for a few minutes. Dip them in ice water to stop further cooking. This also helps to retain color and crunchiness. Pat dry before packing them in freezer friendly bags.
When well frozen, it lasts for 1 year.
What are broccoli sprouts? How long do they last?
Per adventure, you may have a few broccoli sprouts. These are simply young, baby broccoli that are starting to germinate/sprout.
Broccoli sprouts have their own special place in culinary world. They are touted for their vibrant, crunchy texture.
Like their mature counterparts, they are loaded with essential nutrients and antioxidants. They are a wonderful addition to wraps, salads and soups.
Shelf life of sprouts
These are extremely delicate. As such, always ensure they are dry during storage. Refrigerate and consume within 1 week.
Shelf life of broccoli seeds
For any avid gardener, seed handling and storage is crucial. Store seeds away from direct light, heat and moisture. Always seal the containers tightly to prevent contamination and insects.
Well stored seeds last between 3-5 years.
How long does broccoli oil last?
There is more to broccoli than the mundane green florets. Although rarely in the limelight, pale green broccoli oil is renowned in the world of beauty, hair and skin.
It is popularly incorporated in lotions, shampoos, lip salves, massage oils, conditioners as well as moisturizers.
Store it in a cool, dry area, away from direct light. It remains potent for up to 1 year.
Shelf life of uncooked broccoli rice (in the freezer)
The florets are usually chopped, pulsed in a blender or food processor into crumb-like consistency. This is what is known as broccoli rice. It is used as crust for pizzas, added to salads and stir-fries. It is also used as substitute for mash and rice dishes.
Freeze any leftovers in small batches to maximize on shelf life. Use within 1 month while it’s still in top quality.
Can you pickle broccoli? If so, how long does it last?
Yes, pickling applies to almost all vegetables. You can pickle either entire florets or stems only. There are hardly any one-size-fits-all pickling recipes – it’s all about your personal preferences in terms of seasonings and brine solutions.
Unopened jars of well pickled florets last up to 3 weeks.
How do you know when broccoli is bad?
Spoiled broccoli is a no-brainer:
- Limp texture
- Intense, sulfuric like odor
- Discoloration – the florets change from green to yellow-black
- Black spots on florets and stems
- Slimy stems