Broccoli is a nutritious vegetable with many health benefits. Broccoli is highly perishable and storing it in cool temperature plays a vital role in maintaining the quality and shelf life of broccoli before it reaches the market.Good quality broccoli should be dark or bright green in color with closed florets and firm texture.
High temperature affects the color and texture of broccoli. Yellowing and wilting of broccoli florets indicate deterioration. Refrigeration and modified atmosphere can improve broccoli storage.
AdvertisementColor is the major quality of any vegetable followed by texture, flavor and aroma. Factors such as temperature, relative humidity and atmospheric conditions affect the color and texture of broccoli.
A study was conducted by Punjab Agricultural University to find the effect of pre-cooling methods on the quality and shelf life of broccoli. Pre-cooling is the rapid removal of heat from the freshly harvested vegetable to slow down the process of deterioration. Different methods of pre-cooling include room cooling, forced air-cooling, hydro cooling and package icing.
Broccoli was pre-cooled between the ranges of 0 to 1°C using these four methods. Room cooling method was done in walk-in cool rooms to cool broccoli with cold air. Forced air-cooling was similar to room cooling but with an additional fan for faster cooling than room cooling. Hydro cooling is immersion of broccoli in chilled water tanks with a temperature of 0 to 1°C. Package icing was done using slurry of water and freshly ground ice.
The study found that shelf life and quality of broccoli could be maintained better with ice packaging and hydro cooling methods up to 18 days in broccoli with stalk and 15 days in broccoli without stalk.
Health Benefits of Broccoli
- Broccoli is low in calories and rich in essential vitamins, minerals and fiber.
- There are anticancer properties present in broccoli that helps reduce the risk of prostate, breast, lung and colorectal cancers.
- Broccoli is rich in vitamin C, a natural antioxidant and immune booster. A cup of cooked broccoli provides as much Vitamin C as an orange.
- Broccoli contains good amount of Vitamin A together with other pro-vitamins like beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and zea-xanthin. Vitamin A is good for healthy eyesight and also helps to maintain integrity of skin and mucus membranes.
- Broccoli provides 63µg/100 g of folate, which is essential during pre-conception and throughout pregnancy.
- Furthermore, broccoli is a good source of vitamin K, vitamin B3, B5, B6 and minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, selenium, zinc and phosphorus.
Storage of Broccoli
- Broccoli can be stored upto 2 to 3 weeks at 0°C.
- Storing broccoli in perforated plastic film packaging can minimize wilting and yellowing.
- Prolonged storage of broccoli in humid conditions can cause wilting, yellowing of buds, opening of buds and decay.
- Although low temperatures can extend the shelf life of broccoli, the nutritive value is affected.
- According to a study, frozen broccoli losses about 50 to 55 percent of its vitamin C, while storing broccoli at minimum of 4°C helps to retain vitamin C.