Broccoli plants aren’t known for bumper crops, but if you have a large enough garden, you might be harvesting lots of the veggie all at once, more than can be eaten. Storing broccoli in the refrigerator will only keep it fresh for so long, so how do you preserve fresh broccoli for long-term use?
Preserving broccoli harvests is fairly simple and can be accomplished in a few different ways. Read on to learn what to do with your broccoli harvest.
Storing Broccoli in the Refrigerator
Broccoli can only be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks. The longer it’s stored, the tougher the stems get and the more nutrients it loses. That’s why learning what to do with broccoli post-harvest will allow you to retain maximum flavor and nutrition without wasting food.
Before eating a harvest of fresh broccoli, it’s a good idea to wash it. All those spaces between the florets make great hiding holes for insect critters, and if you don’t want to eat them, you need to wash them out.
Use warm, not cold or hot water, with a little white vinegar added, and soak the broccoli until the insects float to the top. Don’t soak for any longer than 15 minutes. Allow the broccoli to drain on a clean dish towel and then prepare as needed.
If you are not going to eat the broccoli immediately, just place the broccoli in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper of the fridge. Don’t wash it, as doing so will encourage mold.
How Do You Preserve Fresh Broccoli?
If you know you have more broccoli than can be used soon, you might be wondering what to do with your broccoli harvest. If giving it away isn’t an option, you have three choices: canning, freezing, or pickling. Freezing is normally the most common/preferred method used.
Freezing preserves the flavor, color, and nutrients best and is quite simple to do. The first thing to do is wash the broccoli as above to rid it of any insects. Next, separate the florets into bite-sized pieces with a bit of stem attached and cut any remaining stem into one inch (2.5 cm.) pieces. Blanch these pieces in boiling water for three minutes and then quickly plunge them into ice water for another three minutes to cool the broccoli and stop the cooking process.
Alternatively, you may steam the broccoli; again, for three minutes and then cool it rapidly in an ice bath. Blanching allows the broccoli to retain its green hue, firm texture, and nutrition while killing any harmful bacteria.
Drain the cooled broccoli and lay it flat on a cookie sheet. Freezing first on a cookie sheet prior to placing it in a bag will enable you to remove just as much broccoli as needed for a meal rather than freezing it all into a huge chunk. Place in the freezer for 12 hours or so and then place in plastic freezer bags and store for up to six months in the freezer.
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Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.
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