Postharvest handling of Brassica vegetables

Page last updated: Tuesday, 17 October 2017 - 8:43am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Brassica vegetables


(Brassica oleracea L. italica group)

Minimum requirements

  • Broccoli should be sound, clean and free of any off smell.
  • It should also be free from caterpillars, aphids, thrips and other pests.
  • The head should be full-bodied, firm, fresh and green without budding yellow flowers.
  • The heads should be free of disease such as white blister and soft rots.
  • The attached leaves, if any, should be green and fresh.
  • Broccoli for export is trimmed to remove all leaves, weighing 300 to 400g.

Shelf life

Air storage without plastic liner:

0°C, 90–95% RH        -           1–2 weeks

Polystyrene box with ice:

0°C, 90–95% RH        -           3–4 weeks

Waxed carton with plastic liner:

0°C, 90–95% RH        -           4 weeks

4°C, 80–90% RH        -           4–7 days

20°C, 60–70% RH      -           1–2 days

The maximum shelf life of broccoli is usually determined by yellowing which detracts from consumer acceptability. High temperature, low humidity and the presence of ethylene gas accelerate yellowing.

Putting ice on top of broccoli in a polystyrene box will be beneficial if temperature and humidity control are poor. Ice is frequently used for local markets and for export by air freight. Polystyrene boxes with ice topping are more expensive than waxed cartons with plastic liners. When temperature can be maintained effectively there is no need to use this method which has disadvantages. When ice melts during storage and transportation the melted water will aid the development of microbial infections which can rot the produce.

Preferred storage conditions

Pre-cooling and storage at 0°C, 95–100% RH.

Recommended storage and transit temperature: 0–2°C.