How To Tell If Broccoli Is Bad – Ultimate Guide

Many people are unsure how to properly select and store broccoli, leading to it going bad before its time. We’ve researched everything you need to know about selecting the best broccoli at the store and keeping it fresh once you get it home. But how do you tell if your broccoli has gone bad?

broccoli in a bowl on a wooden surface

You can tell if broccoli is bad by observing its color and other spoilage giveaways such as mold or wilted florets. Additionally, you can feel the texture which should be cool and firm. Bad broccoli will also have an unpleasant odor, whereas fresh broccoli has an earthy and vegetal aroma.   

Here, we’ll go over some visible signs of spoilage, how to smell and touch broccoli to see if it’s fresh, and finally, how to taste a small piece of broccoli to test it. By the conclusion of this post, you’ll be a broccoli expert!

How To Tell If My Broccoli Has Gone Bad

If you’re like me, you love broccoli. But sometimes, even the best of us can end up with a bad batch. Luckily, there are a few telltale signs that your broccoli is no longer fresh.

First, look at the color, and you’ll see signs of visible spoilage. Another clue is the smell and, finally, the texture of the florets. Below we’ll have a more in-depth look at each of these signs to help you tell if your broccoli has gone bad.

Sign #1: Visible Spoilage

One way to tell if broccoli has gone bad is by looking for visible signs of spoilage. If the ordinarily bright green color of broccoli heads is starting to yellow or brown or looks discolored, or if the florets are wilted, then the broccoli is probably past its prime and should be discarded.

Another sign of visible spoilage is the presence of mold (white, green, or black fuzzy patches on the broccoli surface). If you see any mold, it’s best to throw out the broccoli, as mold can cause serious health problems if ingested. Finally, if the broccoli heads start to separate into florets, this is a sign that they are past their prime and should be used as soon as possible.

Here is a photo of broccoli that is most definitely ready for the trash:

spoiled broccoli with white mold

Sign #2: The Broccoli Smells Bad And Is Slimy

If you’re unsure if your broccoli has gone bad, give it a smell. Fresh broccoli should have a natural, slightly sweet smell. If the broccoli smells sour or otherwise off, it’s probably time to toss it. If your broccoli doesn’t smell foul, but you’re still unsure if it’s good to eat, try touching it.

If the broccoli is firm and crisp, that’s a good sign; firmness means that the broccoli is fresh. If the broccoli is slimy, soft, slippery, and mushy, that’s a bad sign. The slime is caused by bacteria, which can make the broccoli taste bad.

Sign #3: The Broccoli Tastes Sour And Bitter

If you’re still unsure whether or not your broccoli has gone bad, you can always give it a taste test. Cut off a small piece of the floret and take a nibble. If it tastes unpleasant, sour, or bitter, then it’s probably bad, and you should discard the rest of the head to be safe.

However, if the piece tastes crunchy as it should, then you can go ahead and enjoy the rest of your batch. Remember that even if the broccoli is safe to eat, it may not be as nutritious as fresh broccoli. So, if you’re looking for the healthiest option, you should still opt for fresh broccoli over older broccoli.

How To Select The Best Broccoli At The Store

When selecting broccoli at the store, there are a few things to remember to choose the best head of broccoli. Look for broccoli that is deep green and has tight florets. Avoid broccoli that is yellowing or has brown spots.

Give the head of broccoli a smell – it should have a fresh, earthy smell. Feel the broccoli – it should be firm to the touch and not mushy. It isn’t good if it smells sour or off; in this case, you should not buy it.

Shelf Life Of Raw Broccoli And Cooked Broccoli

The shelf life of raw and cooked broccoli can vary depending on how the broccoli is stored. If broccoli is stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, it can last up to 7 days. Cooked broccoli will last 3-4 days in the fridge when stored in a covered container.

To extend the shelf life of your broccoli, you can also freeze it. Raw broccoli will last up to 8 months in the freezer, while cooked broccoli will last six months. When freezing, store the broccoli in a freezer-safe bag or container.

How To Keep Broccoli Fresh

Bad broccoli can make you sick. If someone eats bad broccoli, they may experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Bad broccoli can also cause food poisoning.

There are a few basic tips to keep your broccoli fresh. First, make sure to store it in the refrigerator. Broccoli will stay fresher longer when stored in a cold, damp environment.

If you need to store broccoli for an extended period, you can blanch it before freezing it. Blanching is the process of boiling the broccoli for a short time, then shock chilling it in ice water. This helps preserve the color and texture of the broccoli.

More Questions About Spoiled Broccoli

Here are a few more common questions about spoiled broccoli you might want to know.

Can I Still Eat Broccoli If It’s Starting To Turn Brown?

While browning often indicates that broccoli is spoiled, this isn’t always the case. If the browning is limited to a few small spots, you may be able to cut them away and still enjoy the rest of the broccoli. However, if the browning is widespread or accompanied by other signs of spoilage (such as a slimy texture or foul odor), it’s best to discard the broccoli.

What About Yellowing Broccoli? Is That A Sign That It’s Gone Off?

Yes, in most cases, yellowing broccoli is a sign of spoilage. However, if the yellowing is limited to the florets and the stem is still firm and green, you may be able to salvage some of the broccoli. Cut away any discolored parts and cook only the healthy-looking portion.

I Found Some Broccoli In My Fridge That’s Been There For A While. Is It Safe To Eat?

That depends on how long it’s been in your fridge and what condition it’s in. If it’s only been a few days, and the broccoli looks fresh with no drastic signs of spoilage, it should be safe to eat. However, if it’s been in your refrigerator for weeks or months or shows major signs of spoilage, it’s best to discard it.

Can broccoli last a month in the fridge?

Not usually. Fresh, raw broccoli usually lasts about 7 days, and not more than 2 weeks. By the time it has been in the fridge a month, it will probably be showing major signs of spoilage.

What does broccoli mold look like?

Usually, broccoli mold will show up as fuzzy white spots, or as black spots on the stalk. Take a look at the photo in this post for a close up view.


Broccoli is a lovely vegetable, but you want to store it correctly so you don’t end up with a spoiled mess. Make sure to pay careful attention to the way broccoli looks, smells, and tastes if it has been in the fridge a little too long. Good luck!

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