Why does broccoli turn yellow?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “why does broccoli turn yellow?”. Also, we will discuss what chlorophyll is and how overcooking can turn broccoli yellow. Moreover, we will discuss how you can keep the broccoli from turning yellow.

Why does broccoli turn yellow?

Broccoli florets turn yellow with time due to chlorophyll breakdown. Chlorophyll is responsible for the green color in broccoli including all green plants. Most vegetables don’t spoil, they lose chlorophyll and they lose their flavors.

Moreover, the broccoli may be turning yellow due to a nutrient deficiency. Nutrient deficiency can cause leaves to yellow and stunt the growth of the plant. The most common nutrient deficiencies that affect broccoli are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

A lack of any of these nutrients will cause the plant’s leaves to turn yellow. If the deficiency is severe, the plant may stop growing altogether.

What is chlorophyll?

Chlorophyll is a green pigment found in plants that is essential for photosynthesis. Chlorophyll is what makes plants appear green, and it is found in the chloroplasts of plant cells.

When broccoli is plucked, the chlorophyll molecules are no longer in contact with the plant’s cells, so they can no longer perform photosynthesis. This causes the green color to disappear and broccoli turns yellow.

What factors influence how fast broccoli turns yellow?

  • Too much exposure to sunlight
  • A sudden change in temperature
  • Too much fertilizer
  • Nutrients deficiency
  • Pest infestation

Is it okay to eat broccoli that has turned yellow?

Yes, the yellow color is due to maturity. However, yellow broccoli does not have a pleasant taste. The fibers and the nutrients in yellow broccoli are still uncompromised but the flavors change with time.

In case you find yellow broccoli unpalatable, it is okay to throw it away. There is no need to eat food that is no longer nutritious and delicious.

How long is broccoli good for?

Fresh broccoli is fine for two weeks when left in the refrigerator with a wrapped plastic bag. The length depends on many factors including environmental stress and growth stress. 

If you have raw broccoli leftovers, it is best to eat them within 5 days of storing them in the fridge.

How can you tell that broccoli has gone bad?

The best way to tell if broccoli has gone bad is to look for signs of mold or browning. If you see either of these, broccoli is no longer safe to eat. Another way to tell if broccoli has gone bad is to smell it.

 If the broccoli has a strong, unpleasant odor, it is no longer good. If you are unsure if the broccoli is still good, it is best to err on the side of caution and throw it out.

How do you keep the broccoli from turning yellow?

The best way to preserve the green color of broccoli is by freezing it.  Freezing prevents the breakdown of chlorophyll when exposed to heat, therefore, making the vegetable last up to 6 months.

Broccoli can be frozen using one of two methods: blanching or freezing raw. To blanch, cut the broccoli into pieces and drop them into boiling water for two to three minutes. Remove the broccoli from the water and plunge it into ice water to stop the cooking process. 

Once it is cool, drain the broccoli and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze the broccoli for two to three hours, then remove it from the freezer and place it in a freezer-safe bag. 

To freeze raw broccoli, simply place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze it for two to three hours. Remove the broccoli from the freezer and place it in a freezer-safe bag. Both methods will keep the broccoli fresh for up to six months.

Does overcooking turn broccoli yellow?

Overcooking broccoli can cause it to turn yellow. This is because the chlorophyll in the broccoli starts to break down when it is cooked for too long. Heat contributes to the deterioration of the green coloring of all vegetables. 

Broccoli is only blanched or cooked until tender. Mushy broccoli is yellow and not delicious. Moreover, overcooking reduces the nutrient content in your vegetables.

Broccoli can be cooked in many ways. It can be steamed, boiled, roasted, or stir-fried. To steam broccoli, place it in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until crisp-tender.

You can learn more broccoli recipes here

Other FAQs about Broccoli that you may be interested in.

What are the black spots on broccoli?

Which food can substitute broccoli?

What can I substitute for broccoli?


In this article, we answered the question, “Why does broccoli turn yellow?”. We also discussed how you can tell if broccoli has gone bad and how you can prevent broccoli from turning yellow.



Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!