Whether you bought broccoli in raw or packaged form are a few of the factors that can impact when frozen broccoli will go bad. Cooking the broccoli or storing it in the refrigerator before freezing it will also impact shelf life.
Does frozen broccoli go bad? Frozen broccoli does go bad after about a year after you put it in the freezer. Broccoli that you buy frozen in a package will usually last 8 to 10 months after the printed “best if used by” date.
Below are the details you need to know to keep your broccoli safe.
When Does Frozen Broccoli Go Bad?
The answer depends on how you originally bought, stored, and prepared the broccoli. Did you just pick up a bag of frozen broccoli from the store and immediately put it in the freezer? That broccoli will probably last a year past the date you put it in, provided you don’t open it.
However, the broccoli may not taste the best after a year. It’s ideal if you thaw and eat it within 5 months. Keep in mind that many store-bought frozen vegetables do not have an expiration date. Instead, these have a “best if used by” date indicating when it will taste the best.
Say you bought a crown of raw broccoli from your favorite grocery store’s produce section. Did you store it in the refrigerator for a few days and then put it in the freezer? Or did you immediately place it in the freezer after getting it home?
Raw broccoli only lasts between 5 and 7 days in the fridge, so you need to take this into account. If it’s already been 7 days since you brought that broccoli home, putting it in the freezer at this point isn’t going to help.
What Impacts Frozen Broccoli’s Shelf Life in the Freezer?
Several factors can shorten frozen broccoli’s shelf life, including packaging, temperature, and power sources.
The first is inadequate packaging. If air gets into storage containers or packaging, ice crystals will form. This is a sign of freezer burn.
In these cases, you’ll want to throw out your frozen broccoli. It won’t taste very good. Trust us. You’ll be wishing you hadn’t cooked or thawed it.
Second, temperature fluctuations inside your freezer can cause problems. Some older freezers need to be thawed and aired out occasionally to keep working. Others start to lose the ability to keep the interior temperature steady.
You may notice that food stored in the back is thawing out a little, or containers in the center aren’t freezing as fast as others. When frozen broccoli starts to thaw, it can also begin to rot in the freezer sooner than expected.
Third, power outages or mechanical malfunctions that cause your freezer to completely stop working will eventually thaw everything out. To save any frozen broccoli, move it to a working refrigerator asap and consume it within 5 to 7 days.
While you can’t do much about power outages, you can move your frozen vegetables to a cooler packed with ice or snow. If it’s cold enough outside, place the packed cooler in a safe outdoor location. Once the power comes back on, move your frozen goods back to the freezer.
How Do You Know Frozen Broccoli is Bad?
Frozen broccoli is bad if it’s brown, has mold, has ice crystals on it, smells rancid, or becomes limp and mushy. Any of these signs is bad news. Also, it’s best to assume frozen broccoli is bad if you can’t remember when you placed it in the freezer, and there’s no date.
The Color Isn’t Green
Broccoli that’s on its way out will first turn yellow. Technically, it may still be safe to eat it at this point. Although many people don’t find the taste or the thought of eating yellow broccoli appealing.
Because anything besides a green color is truly healthy, it’s best to throw out yellow broccoli. But if the color has gone to a full brown, this is a 100% sure sign of a rotting vegetable.
The Dreaded Ice Crystals
Ever tried to eat a pint of ice cream with crystals on the top? You probably didn’t make it very far. It’s the same thing with broccoli. Even if those ice crystals melt away in the skillet, the end result won’t be great.
A Bad Smell
This one’s almost as obvious as a yellow or brown color. A sour or rancid odor tells you not to eat that broccoli. Sometimes you won’t notice a bad odor until you thaw out or cook frozen broccoli.
Even though it’s disappointing to learn your frozen broccoli’s gone bad, go ahead and throw it out. You don’t want to risk food poisoning or a taste that’s so awful it prevents you from eating broccoli forever.
The Texture Isn’t Firm
This one is also hard to spot until you start to thaw or cook frozen broccoli. But if you notice your vegetables are limp or mushy, take them to the trash. You’ll have a difficult time chewing and swallowing mushy broccoli anyway.
Storing broccoli in a container? Put a label on the bag or Tupperware with the date you placed it in the freezer. We’re talking about the first date, not any later dates where you might have pulled some of the frozen broccoli out to eat.
You can do the same without pre-packaged frozen broccoli. Put the date you brought it home on the bag before you place it in your freezer. This will help you eyeball and keep track of the shelf life easier.
Check your freezer to make sure it’s keeping things at an even temperature and working correctly. If you’ve had a lot of power outages lately, you can plan to cook your frozen broccoli sooner.
And if you’re experiencing an extended power outage, do your best to keep the broccoli at freezing temperatures in a cooler. Also, don’t thaw and then refreeze your broccoli. Keep containers air-tight.