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Food & Recipes

Can You Eat Yellow Broccoli? Here’s Something Better To Do With It Instead

We've got the perfect save for a yellowing head of broccoli — plus how to prevent it from happening

No one likes to open up the fridge to find produce that’s gone bad — not only can it spoil your dinner plans, it feels like such a waste of money too. If you’ve ever noticed broccoli turning yellow in your vegetable drawer, you’ve probably thought twice before eating it. After all, part of the veggie’s appeal is its bright green color and crunchy texture. So what’s the deal with yellow broccoli, and can you still eat it? Keep reading to find out more about yellow broccoli, how to prevent it and what to do if it’s already turned yellow.

What does it mean when broccoli turns yellow?

According to food experts, broccoli that has turned yellow is usually not rotting but instead simply starting to age. That change in color is due to the breakdown of chlorophyll, the pigment that makes broccoli green. The Produce for Better Health Foundation explains that yellow broccoli is past its prime of peak freshness. That also means it has lost a lot of its nutritional value — especially some important vitamins that were once present. 

Is it safe to eat broccoli when it turns yellow?

The short answer: It is completely safe to eat yellow broccoli. That said, you may notice a strong and bitter flavor that you’re not used to getting from fresher broccoli. Some people do find this unpalatable, especially if they attempt to eat yellow broccoli raw.

How do you keep broccoli from turning yellow?

There are so many tips and tricks out there that can help you keep food fresh so you can use it for longer. To maintain the crispness, store broccoli in a plastic bag in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer and use it within three to five days.

Not sure whether you’ll use the produce that soon? You also have the option of freezing broccoli, which prevents it from turning yellow too quickly. Below, the experts at PickYourOwn.org share tips for blanching and freezing broccoli so it stays fresh for up to a year:

  1. Thoroughly wash the broccoli to remove any dirt on the surface.
  2. Split broccoli lengthwise to form florets that are no more than 1½ inches across. Discard leaves and woody portions.
  3. Place broccoli in a pot of boiling water and blanch on medium heat for 3 minutes. If you’re steaming the veggie, blanch it for 5 minutes.
  4. Transfer broccoli to a bowl filled with ice water. Once fully cooled, drain and dry the florets.
  5. Divide broccoli florets into freezer-friendly plastic bags and seal. Store in the freezer and use within a year.

What are the best ways to cook with yellow broccoli?

While prevention is key for storing broccoli so it doesn’t turn yellow, you may have some discolored florets that you don’t want to throw away. To use up yellow broccoli, it’s best to cook it rather than eat it raw because adding other ingredients will tame the bitterness. Just be sure to slice off any yellow parts that are less attractive before chopping up the rest of the veggie. Then, add the chopped broccoli to a soup, casserole or homemade veggie burger mix. Additionally, try these two recipes from our test kitchen to turn yellow broccoli into hearty quiche bites or a sizzling dinner stir-fry — yum!

Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche Bites

Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche Bites
Food and Photo

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 1 tbs. grated onion
  • 1 tbs. all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. mustard powder
  • 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup broccoli, chopped
  • ½ cup jarred roasted red peppers, diced and drained
  • Parsley sprigs (optional)

Directions:

  • Active: 15 mins
  • Total time: 40 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly coat 12 mini-muffin cups with cooking spray.
  2. In bowl, whisk together eggs, heavy cream, Parmesan, onion, flour, mustard powder, salt and pepper until smooth. Stir in ½ cup cheese and broccoli.
  3. Divide egg mixture evenly among muffin cups. Top with remaining
    ½ cup cheese.
  4. Bake until centers are set, 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. before serving. Top with red pepper. If desired, garnish with parsley.

Chicken with Broccoli and Cashews

Chicken with Broccoli and Cashews
Lines + Angles

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tbs. honey mustard
  • 1 tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into ½-inch strips
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ⅛ tsp. pepper
  • 6 oz. broccoli, halved crosswise
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 scallions, sliced 
  • ½ cup cashews
  • Active: 15 mins
  • Total time: 25 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings

Directions:

  1. In bowl, whisk first 4 ingredients; reserve. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. In 12-inch nonstick skillet, bring broccoli and ¼ cup water to a boil over high heat.
  2. Cover; over medium-low heat, cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain; transfer to plate.
  3. In same skillet, heat oil over high heat. Add chicken; cook, stirring, until browned and no longer pink, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove. Reduce heat to low. Add garlic; cook, stirring, 30 seconds.
  4. Add broth mixture; bring to boil. Cook until slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add chicken, broccoli and scallions; heat through, about 30 seconds. Serve sprinkled with cashews.
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