How to Tell If Brussel Sprouts are Bad [Definitive Guide]

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Brussels sprouts are one of the most divisive foods, with some people loving their nutty and smokey taste while others hate them.

They are versatile vegetables, and you can easily use them for side dishes or salads.

However, some distinctive signs show these vegetables have gone bad, and you shouldn’t use them.

Signs That Brussel Sprouts Are Bad

Large Black Spots

One of the clearest signs that brussels sprouts have gone bad is from their appearance, specifically from their leaves. Normally, Brussels sprouts should be light or dark green, with patches of white towards the bottom. They should also have crispy leaves.

Brussel sprouts that have gone bad will have large black spots on the leaves, which are caused by a fungus. This can also make the leaves brown or turn them yellow. 

The initial signs of fungal growth on the sprouts are small spots on the bottom leaves, which will spread to the rest of the plant. If the fungus is left to grow, it can also infect the sprout’s head, which will appear as black spots.

You should also inspect the leaves, as you may notice small insects on the sprouts, which shows that they have gone off.

Additionally, the leaves might appear wilted, coarse, or slightly discolored. If the sprouts are browning, they are likely no longer safe to eat. Brussels sprouts that are white with no other signs should still be edible.

Rotten Smell

Another indication of bad sprouts is the smell. Usually, Brussels sprouts have a strong scent, which some people dislike. It is an earthy smell that is dissimilar to cabbage.

When uncooked Brussels sprouts have gone bad, they will have a rotten smell. They may also smell like old cabbage. The main cause of this smell is bacterial infections, which cause the food to rot.

Cooked Brussell sprouts that have gone bad will smell sour and may smell similar to vinegar. However, it is important to note that overcooked Brussell sprouts will have a strong sulfur smell, but this does not indicate that they are inedible.

Slimy Texture

Fresh Brussell sprouts will feel firm and should have crispy leaves

Bad Brussels sprouts will feel slimy or may have gray powder on them. This indicates a fungal infection and means they are no longer fit to eat. You may also notice that the leaves have withered or no longer feel firm, which shows that they are bad.

Rotten Taste

The final indication of bad Brussels sprouts is the taste. You should never eat uncooked Brussels sprouts as they can contain germs like E. coli or salmonella, which are removed when they are cooked.

Normally, cooked and fresh Brussell sprouts will taste similar to cabbage, although they are milder. The taste also depends on the size of the sprout, as smaller sprouts have a sweeter taste than their larger, more cabbage-like counterpart.

Cooked and bad Brussell sprouts will taste rotten. If you notice this sign, you should immediately dispose of them.

How to Tell if Brussel Sprouts are Fresh?

You can easily tell if Brussels sprouts are fresh from their color, texture, and smell. Fresh Brussell sprouts should be a shade of green and may also appear slightly yellow.

When touching them, you should notice that they feel firm while the leaves are crispy and tightly packed. They should also have a fresh and earthy smell which should not be cabbage-like.

How to Tell if Cooked Brussel Sprouts Are Bad?

If cooked Brussels sprouts are fresh, they should have a strong smell similar to sulfur. Although it may not be appetizing, this indicates that the sprouts are okay to eat.

If cooked Brussels sprouts are bad, they will smell sour or similar to vinegar.

Is It Normal For Brussel Sprouts to Smell?

Yes, it is normal for Brussels sprouts to smell, although the type of smell will indicate whether they are fresh. Uncooked and fresh Brussels sprouts smell earthy, while cooked and fresh Brussels sprouts will have a strong, sulfurous smell.

This is because these vegetables are full of hydrogen sulfide gas. Cooking them releases gases, which cause a strong smell.

What Texture Should Brussel Sprouts Be?

Brussels sprouts should feel firm and not squishy. The leaves should be tightly packed, and they should also be crispy. If the sprouts feel soft or slimy, this is a strong sign that they have gone bad.

What Do Bad Brussel Sprouts Like Look On the Inside?

After peeling away the leaves, Brussels sprouts should appear green and fresh. In some cases, the leaves may be slightly brown, but the inside may still be fresh.

If so, you can cut off the bad leaves and cook the rest of the sprout.

If the middle is brown or has cracks, insects or a fungus have infected the sprout. You should immediately dispose of it.

What Happens If You Eat Bad Brussel Sprouts?

Like with most food, eating bad Brussels sprouts can cause health problems like food poisoning. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever

These symptoms usually appear between 6 to 24 hours after eating the bad sprouts.

How Long Do Brussel Sprouts Last in the Fridge?

Depending on how the sprouts are stored, this can affect their shelf-life.

  • Refrigerated Brussels sprouts can last up to 2 weeks. To make them last longer, you should buy them on the stalk.
  • If left on the counter, they will last a single night but should be consumed as soon as possible.
  • If cooked, the sprouts will last up to 4 days.

Can You Freeze Brussel Sprouts?

Yes, you can freeze Brussels sprouts, but there are some important steps to follow before freezing them.

  1. First, you should cook them for about five minutes.
  2. Once cooked, you should place them into a bowl of ice water to stop them from becoming overcooked
  3. Wait for the Brussels sprouts to dry.
  4. Place the sprouts into freezer bags and ensure you remove the air from the bag.

If stored correctly, Brussels sprouts can last for up to a year.

To Sum Up

Brussels sprouts can make an excellent addition to any meal (try these honey butter roasted brussel sprouts), and their versatility means you can cook them in various ways. However, you should ensure that they are fresh before cooking.

If they feel squishy, have black spots on them, or have a rotten smell, they are no longer safe to eat.