What Are The Brown Spots On My Broccoli: Can I Eat This

A picture of black and brown spots scattered across a single broccoli.

Broccoli is usually a rich, dark green color, but not always. When you find yourself asking, ‘what are the brown spots on my broccoli,’ then you probably wonder whether it is still safe. Black and brown spots on broccoli can be mold or fungus. While this is perfectly natural, once these spores start eating your veggies, you should not. Typically mold and fungus have a unique texture like fuzzy, slimy, or powdery. Other discoloration such as sun bleaching and aging can also turn brown. The difference is that these yellow to brown areas are safe to remove. Identifying the cause and edibility of vegetable problems like brown spots on broccoli is vital for anyone growing their own food. You don’t want to make yourself sick after all. I will walk you through everything you need to know about oddly colored broccoli and what to avoid.

What are the brown spots on my broccoli? Brown spots on broccoli are mold. Regrettably, broccoli mold is not safe for humans to eat, so when you see brown and black spots on broccoli, you need to get rid of it. Mold isn’t always visible when it gets inside of the food, so it’s best to scrap that crown and eat a green one instead. 


What Are The Little Black Dots On Broccoli

Unlike the brown spots on broccoli, black or purple-tinged spots are usually a sign of downy mildew. However, if you have black spots on the leaves or stem, it signifies a mold problem called Blackleg. Sadly, both of these are inedible, and it would be best if you throw out the broccoli.

Moreover, when you get mildew or mold on your broccoli, it’s important to remove it from the garden and treat it with a good fungicide. Both powdery mildew and Blackleg can spread to nearby plants. Neem oil, dish soap, and water is a simple solution you can apply to plants to prevent fungal development.

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Downy Mildew

Downy mildew is a persistent survivor that can cause serious damage to your seedbeds. Scientifically known as Peronospora parasitica, this mildew prefers cool, damp weather. Unfortunately, it can survive from one planting season to the next. Spores spread when the wind blows, or water splashes from one plant to the next.

Other than treating mildew and disposing of infected plants, the best way to prevent downy mildew is to treat your beds correctly. By choosing well-aerated soil and ensuring good airflow, your plants will dry quickly. Lower moisture helps impede mildew growth.


Although this fungal infection can strike any time, you will most often see it in young broccoli. A few small brown spots may not seem like a major issue, but they can prevent your cole crops from ever-growing. Watch out for slimy blackening around the base of the stalk and yellowing leaves.

Blackleg looks brown at first. However, the brown spots will grow and spread, eventually developing darker grey centers with black dots. Worst of all, there is no treatment for this plant disease. Use high-quality seed and proper soil rotation to lower the risks.


Why Is My Broccoli Purple

Your broccoli is turning purple due to anthocyanin present n the plant. While broccoli that turns brown and purple indicate mold or mildew, and yellow is often bitter, purple broccoli crowns are no problem. Anthocyanin is only a big word that describes a naturally occurring bluish-purple pigment.

When plants that prefer cooler weather get too much sun, this is the result. The release of anthocyanin is not a problem but rather a solution. Much like humans near the equator developed darker melanated skin tones; broccoli develops a darker, purplish hue to ward off too much light and heat. The difference is that broccoli does this individually on an as-needed basis instead of over generations.


What Does Mold Look Like On Broccoli

Mold can appear as brown or black spots on your broccoli. Regrettably, there are many different types of mold, and spores are everywhere in our air. Keeping your food fresh and clean will help prevent mold growth.

Ensuring that your broccoli stays dry between waterings will help avoid mold since it loves damp conditions. Likewise, refrigeration and freezing are great ways to slow or stop mold growth. Moreover, eating your broccoli within two to four days of cutting lowers the chances of mold development and reduces food waste.

Some mold is white and furry or fluffy looking. If your broccoli has patches that look slimy or any texture other than that of broccoli, molds are likely present. Tiny mold spots may be safe to cut off. Unfortunately, since mold spores extend beyond the visible and spread within the plant as well, it’s better to throw out broccoli with larger patches of mold when you spot it.

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How Do You Tell When Broccoli Goes Bad

There are several ways to tell if your broccoli has gone bad. Brown spots on broccoli are just one indicator of rot or other problems. Check all the items on the list below to see if your broccoli has gone off, and remember, you only need one or two good indicators, not the whole list.

  1. Does your broccoli smell really strongly? An increase in the rich green scent of broccoli may be the first sign of bad broccoli.
  2. Broccoli may smell sour or bad. Unlike a stronger broccoli odor, there are times when food just smells rotten. This is your nose answering the question, ‘can I eat this,’ with a resounding no.
  3. Another clear indication that broccoli is going bad is the color change. As broccoli ages and begins to go off, it may turn yellow or even brown on the crown. Though this is technically still safe to eat, the flavor will be bitter and unpleasant.
  4. Speaking of flavor, food that tastes wrong is probably bad. This goes for broccoli and many other foods as well.
  5. Lastly, take a good look at your broccoli. When the stalk begins to bend and go limp, your broccoli is at the end of its safe eating period. Floppy broccoli is safe to eat so long as it isn’t moldy or otherwise damaged, but it is no longer fresh.

A good rule of thumb is to toss anything suspicious. Your senses evolved to help you understand the world around you better. Visual, olfactory, and flavor warnings are your senses telling you there’s a problem.


What Happens When You Eat Bad Broccoli

Eating bad broccoli can make you sick. Whether you’re wondering about brown spots on your broccoli, fuzzy mold patches, or other issues, it’s not worth the risk. Food poisoning is extremely unpleasant.

The best-case scenario is mild discomfort. You may experience minor stomach upset and bad gas. While this isn’t fun, it’s not a serious concern either. Your body is processing the slightly bad broccoli in a normal manner.

Regrettably, you won’t always get off so easily when you eat bad veggies. Food poisoning is worth avoiding. If it’s too late, look out for the warning signs and stay well hydrated.

Signs of food poisoning include, but are not limited to, stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and fever. In extreme cases, diarrhea and vomiting can cause dehydration. Truly awful food poisoning can even kill you.

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Final Thoughts

Please do not eat broccoli that has gone brown with mold. At the first sign your vegetables have gone off, it’s time to get rid of them. Remember to use common sense and your senses to make sure the food you’ve harvested is safe.

It is also important to store your broccoli properly. You can leave it growing for a while if you’re not ready to eat it yet. However, once cut, you need to refrigerate it. Mist the heads lightly with clean water, wrap in paper towels, and store (without a plastic bag) in the vegetable drawer for two to four days. If you want it to last longer, pre-cook and vacuum seal your broccoli before freezing.

In addition to looking at the broccoli for brown and black spots, use your sense of smell. If the crown smells off or like anything other than broccoli, it’s probably too far gone to eat.

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