Broccoli is a famous plant that many people like, especially those with a big garden, and harvest more broccoli than they eat. It can only be kept fresh in the refrigerator for a long because it is a vegetable grown in hard and cold weather. It is usually held on ice until it reaches the market shelves.
A high amount of moisture, refrigerator’s dry air, or solid wrap are not suitable for broccoli. Therefore, you should keep it and cook it properly. Like other vegetables, broccoli is also known to produce ethylene. If you are trying to store broccoli in a tightly closed bag, ethylene will be trapped and speed up the decay of the vegetables.
However, if you leave it unwrapped, the broccoli gets exposed to dry refrigerator air, which quickly wilts and limps it. Give it some fresh air by wrapping it loosely in an unsealed plastic bag. If your bunch is wet because of the supermarket’s spray, dry it as much as possible before storing it. You can even wrap the broccoli’s entire head in paper towels before bagging it to help wick away the excess water.
Ways of Preserving Broccoli
1. Keeping It in a Cold Storage
One of the best ways to preserve something is to put it in a dry and cold storage room while keeping the humidity minimum. The cooling will eventually protect and keep the broccoli healthy. However, it is best not to store it for a long time as there’s a chance that it would lose its nutrients.
That is why you should use this method as a short-term preservation option for broccoli after harvest. This will allow you to retain maximum flavor and nutrition over a short period while minimizing food waste.
All the spaces between the florets provide excellent hiding spaces for insect critters, which must be taken care of properly and washed out. Soak the broccoli in warm, not cold or hot, water with a bit of white vinegar until the insect floats to the top.
2. Putting In Plastic Bags
Air circulation is necessary for keeping the broccoli fresh, so that is why you should cover the broccoli’s bunch loosely with a plastic bag. To keep the bag fresh, poke holes in it or leave it open. You can store it for three to five days this way.
3. The Paper Towel Method
Instead of using a plastic bag, you can also wrap the broccoli with the help of a paper-made damp towel and put it in the refrigerator. This makes for a healthy, moist environment. Don’t wash the broccoli first, as too much moisture is good enough for promoting mold growth.
Instead, try to wash it before using it thoroughly. In this way, it will stay fresh for three to five days.
Dehydrating is an old and traditional way of preserving food, in which water is removed from the harvest through evaporation by heat and air. You can easily re-tenderize them by soaking them in cold water for about 30 to 90 minutes.
This method works with many fruits and vegetables, including broccoli, apricots, apples, peaches, berries, tomatoes, pumpkin, bananas, pineapple, carrot, onion, figs, leafy greens, beets, etc. If the food dehydrator is not available, you can dry fruits and vegetables in the oven or sun.
Dehydrated veggies can last for years when stored in airtight containers out of direct light.
5. Oven Drying
You can also preserve broccoli by putting it in an old brick oven. The key to drying food with the oven is to heat the harvest slowly and steadily. To over-dry, the vegetables, blanch them first to speed up the harvest. Then let it heat to 140ᵒF and arrange trays of clean, trimmed, and prepped produce in a single layer on each baking sheet.
If you have a lot of harvests, layer them in trays, but they will need to be stirred frequently during the drying process. Oven drying time can range from six to twenty-four hours. Remove a sample from the oven and allow it to cool for a few minutes before testing for dryness. When it becomes hard and brittle, it is fully hydrated.
6. Sun Drying
The area where the average temperature is at least 85ᵒF with low humidity, good air quality, little rainfall, and a good breeze is ideal. It makes for an excellent environment to preserve broccoli using the sun drying method.
Even though the sun drying process can take a few days, you can boost the process by blanching them first and then roasting them in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes. You have to do this at the temperature of 175°F before laying them out in the sun.
It’s also helpful to place the broccoli on a screen set on top of a couple of cinderblocks for the best results and increased airflow. To prevent birds and insects from sitting on your food, wrap it in a cheesecloth. Make sure to move it to a sheltered location each evening to avoid nightly moisture and morning dew from slowing the drying process.
7. Root Cellaring
The combination of cool temperatures, high humidity, and good airflow creates an ideal environment for preserving perishable foods. You don’t need to dig your backyard to create a root cellar. A basement, hillside, or even a hole in the ground can be transformed into a place for storing fruits/vegetables and extend their shelf life for up to 8 months.
Freezing broccoli is a method that allows you to retain the vitamins and nutrients in your produce while lengthening the shelf life from one week to over a year. And best of all, it doesn’t require any special equipment.
For more information, check out these Tips for Freezing Vegetables for Long Term Storage.
How to Freeze Broccoli
- Start by washing and trimming the ends of the stalks and leaves.
- Trim away any damaged or discolored sections before chopping them into florets and stalks into small pieces.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil, then add chopped stalks for 2 minutes and chopped florets for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and drain using a colander or strainer. Let cool completely in cold water for about 2 minutes to stop the cooking process, then place them on a towel or paper towel to absorb excess moisture.
- Place cooled broccoli on cookie sheets lined with parchment or wax paper and pop them into the freezer until they are frozen solid (about 2-3 hours).
Canning is an excellent method to preserve your bumper crop of broccoli, especially if you’re looking to make soup or stew mixes that include other vegetables like carrots and onions. Canning takes more time and equipment than freezing but allows you to store your broccoli for even longer periods of time (up to 18 months) without losing flavor or texture.
10. Ferment It
Broccoli (along with its close relative, cauliflower) makes a great ferment on its own, but you can also mix it with other vegetables. This recipe for fermented broccoli takes just three days to make. Simply shred the broccoli and pack it into a jar. Add salt and water, and the good bacteria do their work!
Preserving Broccoli – It’s all about the Right Technique
Preserving broccoli is essential as it helps increase its life. There are many ways of safeguarding your harvested broccoli like the ones mentioned above. But you should choose the suitable one so that you don’t end up ruining your bumper crop of broccoli. If you use the methods mentioned above, you can also preserve various other fruits and vegetables besides broccoli.