Black Spots On Broccoli (What Are They?)

If you’re a fan of eating healthy and love your veggies, you’ve probably come across some strange-looking black spots on broccoli at one point or another. It’s certainly disconcerting, especially if you’re an avid fan of fresh produce.

These black spots are typically found within the “florets” the head of the broccoli. But what are they exactly?

The black spots, or black dots, found on broccoli usually indicates the presence of mold, or fungus which is a result of a natural process called oxidation, that occurs 72 hours after being picked.

Fungus is common in cruciferous vegetables due to the airborne nature of fungal spores and their ability to germinate and spread in a humid environment.

At first, you may notice yellow spots on older leaves where the fungus has invaded. Eventually, the entire head will be ruined by spots that appear on the florets and turn them into brown spots or black color.

Is Black Mold On Broccoli Dangerous?

Black mold on broccoli can sometimes be dangerous. If there are only a few tiny black spots on the broccoli, you can eat it. However, it should not be consumed raw. 

Remove the spoiled sections and cook the remaining vegetables in a steamed or stir-fried dish. Moldy broccoli, if eaten raw, can cause health problems like stomach upset.

What Happens If You Eat Broccoli That Has Black Spots?

You’ll probably be fine if you eat broccoli with black spots. However, mold on spoiled food can sometimes be very harmful. You should immediately get medical attention if you experience sudden symptoms like difficulty breathing, diarrhea, a high temperature, or nausea.

Is It Safe To Cut These Black Spots Off The Broccoli?

Yes it is safe to cut off the black spots from the broccoli. However, if there’s a lot of black spot on the broccoli you might find that it’s difficult to cut away the affected parts without ruining the whole head and you could end up with just stalks.

If this is the case, you should discard the head of broccoli and get a new one. But with that said, if you’re lucky enough to have some left over you should make sure to discard any rotten portions and cook what’s left over at a high temperature for several minutes to kill off any remaining bacteria or fungus.

Black Spots on Broccoli

How To Prevent Black Spots On Your Broccoli?

No one wants to find black spots on their broccoli, and it can be disconcerting if you do! But don’t worry, there are a few simple steps you can take to prevent this from happening in the first place!

  • Place in The Fridge: One of the best ways to preserve your broccoli is in the fridge. Store it in a sealed, airtight container and make sure to keep it away from other fruits and vegetables that may release ethylene gas.
  • Avoid Leaving At Room Temperature: You should also avoid leaving your broccoli out at room temperature for too long, as this can cause the fungus to grow quickly.
  • Wash It Thoroughly: It’s also important to make sure you’re washing your produce thoroughly before eating or cooking with it. This will help get rid of any bacteria or fungi on the surface that might be causing spoilage.
  • Freeze The Broccoli: If you a lot of broccoli to go, freezing is the best way to store it. In fact frozen pre made broccoli is commonly more and more popular these days and can be found in most grocery shops.
  • Buy fresh and use quickly: Last but not least, only buy fresh produce and use it quickly after purchase. This will help ensure that fungus does not have enough time to grow on the broccoli before you get a chance to enjoy.

How Do You Know When Broccoli Is Going Bad?

Spots of black coloration aren’t the only giveaway that the broccoli you bought has gone bad. You can detect broccoli spoilage in several ways:

  • How supple is it? Broccoli that has become overly soft is not worth eating. The best broccoli is hard, incredibly crisp, and flavorful. Throw away broccoli that has softened too much.
  • Have you noticed any mold on the suspected broccoli? There shouldn’t be any mold on a broccoli head. If you can’t get rid of it by cutting it out of the broccoli, or if there’s too much of it, you should just toss the whole head. The best course of action is preventative caution.
  • Good broccoli is dark green all over, with lighter green stems; it shouldn’t be yellow. Tossing out broccoli is unnecessary because it’s turned a bit yellow, but you should cut out any mainly yellow florets or spots. Toss the broccoli if you notice that it has turned completely yellow.
  • Freshly harvested broccoli has no discernible odor. Keeping broccoli in the fridge shouldn’t cause any unpleasant odors to develop. If your broccoli has developed an unpleasant odor, it has likely gone bad.
  • Check the broccoli florets; they must be perfectly symmetrical and firm. If the broccoli’s florets are too mushy to distinguish from the rest of the mass, it’s time to toss the whole head.

If you can cut the browning spots of the broccoli off, the rest of the veggie is OK to eat. However, if those bits cover the broccoli or you are unsure what to do, it’s best to toss it.

Is Yellow Broccoli With No Black Spots Safe To Eat?

Yes, yellow broccoli is safe to eat. However, although technically edible, yellow broccoli has a bitter taste and is, more often than not, best discarded. 

If only a few florets have begun to turn yellow, you can still use the rest. You can keep raw broccoli in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Other Vegetables That Get Black Spots

Unfortunately, black spots on vegetables are not limited to just broccoli. Other cruciferous vegetables often suffer from this same problem! Cauliflower, cabbage, kale and Brussels sprouts can all succumb to the presence of fungal spores.

The good news is that you can apply the same prevention methods for these other veggies as applying to broccoli. So be sure to store them properly in airtight containers away from fruits and vegetables that may release ethylene gas.

Keep them refrigerated when possible, and use or freeze within a few days of purchase! With proper storage and care your produce will stay fresh and delicious longer with fewer chances of developing those pesky black spots!


Broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables available, and it is the king of cruciferous vegetables when it is fresh. If you notice black spots on your broccoli, it’s best to toss it out and buy new. 

If the broccoli only has a few black spots, you can still use it by removing the bad ones before cooking. You shouldn’t eat it uncooked. And the broccoli that has turned slimy and smells bad should be avoided at all costs. Throw that straight in the trash!


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