Whether you’re storing it in the fridge or freezer, make the most of this cruciferous vegetable.

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From Shrimp & Broccoli Stir-Fry to Broccoli Salad with Bacon, there are endless ways to prepare this healthy vegetable. Whether you keep it raw or cook it, broccoli has some great health benefits including boosting brain health, fighting inflammation and more. Before you can enjoy this cruciferous vegetable, learn what to look for when buying broccoli. Then, learn how to store broccoli to make the most of this tasty vegetable.

What to Look for When Buying Broccoli

Whether you're at the grocery store or your local farmers' market, there are a few things to keep in mind when buying broccoli. First, broccoli is either sold as a crown (the top of the head only) or with several inches of stalk attached (often labeled as a broccoli bunch). You can also buy loose broccoli florets. Choose brightly colored broccoli with no yellow or brown spots, with tightly closed flower buds. Be sure to check the cut ends of the stalks. They should be fresh and moist, not cracked or dried out. Broccoli is available year-round, but it is at its peak from mid-fall to mid-spring, though of course this will vary based on where you live.

How to Store Broccoli in the Fridge

Fresh broccoli should be stored in a loosely closed or perforated plastic bag. Broccoli needs air circulation to stay fresh, so avoid sealing or knotting the bag. In addition, you should not wash your broccoli before storing it, as wet broccoli could turn mushy or lead to mold growth (however, you should wash your broccoli once you're ready to use it). When stored properly, broccoli can last three to five days in the fridge.

How to Store Broccoli in the Freezer

If you're looking to store broccoli in the freezer, you'll need to take a few additional steps. Following our how-to guide for freezing vegetables, first cut the broccoli into florets before blanching (i.e., quickly cooking in hot water and then plunging into an ice bath), which helps preserve the nutrients and color of the vegetable while also getting rid of any bacteria. Next, spread the broccoli on a sheet pan and freeze until solid. Finally, place the frozen broccoli into a freezer-safe bag like this one from Stasher (buy it: Target, $22). When stored this way, frozen broccoli can last 10 to 12 months in the freezer.

Whether you opt for the fridge or freezer, it's easy to store broccoli. And when you're ready to cook, broccoli can be used in tasty recipes like Broccoli, Chickpea & Pomegranate Salad, Air-Fryer Broccoli & Cheese Baked Potatoes and more.