This Is Why You Won’t Find Broccoli in a Can

Updated: Apr. 04, 2021

Ever notice how you can only find it fresh or frozen?

this-is-why-you-wont-findcanned-broccoli-427442281-Brent-HofackerBrent Hofacker/ShutterstockBroccoli is a great cooking staple. After all, it’s one of these 33 healthy foods even more nutritious than you realized. Steamed, roasted, or stir-fried, broccoli is the perfect way to round out your plate with some healthy greens. If you want to make sure to have some on hand, you probably keep your freezer stocked with frozen broccoli. (Check out these other secrets of working parents who cook every night.) But wait, why doesn’t the vegetable come in a can?

Whether you want green beans, carrots, mushrooms, or potatoes, you can find almost any veggie in the canned food section. But no matter what, canned broccoli seems to be conspicuously missing.

Canned food stays fresh because the process removes oxygen and destroys enzymes so bacteria and mold can’t grow once the container is sealed. To kill bacteria before canning, you need to start by boiling the vegetables in water of 212°F or above, according to the USDA. That process works great for sturdy foods like beans and corn. The problem is, keeping broccoli in hot water long enough to kill bacteria turns its delicate florets to mush. (Plus, learn why cooking makes broccoli less nutritious.)

Think of how grossly squishy your broccoli gets when it’s in the microwave too long. You’d be getting that but worse, because canned vegetables go through two heating processes: once before going in the can, then again when hot water is added during packing. Now imagine opening a can, not to crisp, solid stalks of broccoli, but to a pile of almost-liquid mush. Probably not the prettiest addition to your stir-fry.

But texture isn’t the only reason canned broccoli would be unappetizing, according to the University of Wisconsin. The canning process would leave broccoli with a funky color and an arguably even funkier scent. Yuck. We’ll pass and stick with our typical frozen florets instead.

Looking for more surprisingly rare foods? Find out why you can never find grape ice cream in stores.

[Source: Spoon University]