Thursday, 17 November 2016


“Then Maura made something with butter and Calla made something with bacon and Blue steamed broccoli in self-defense.” - Maggie Stiefvater

Broccoli is an edible green plant in the cabbage family whose large flowering head is eaten as a vegetable. The word broccoli comes from the Italian plural of broccolo, which means “the flowering crest of a cabbage”, and is the diminutive form of brocco, meaning “small nail” or “sprout”. Broccoli is often boiled or steamed but may be eaten raw. Broccoli is classified in the Italica cultivar group of the species Brassica oleracea.

Broccoli has large flower heads, usually green in colour, arranged in a tree-like structure branching out from a thick, edible stalk. The mass of flower heads is surrounded by leaves. Broccoli resembles cauliflower, which is a different cultivar group of the same species. Broccoli is a result of careful breeding of cultivated Brassica crops in the northern Mediterranean starting in about the 6th century BC. Since the time of the Roman Empire, broccoli has been considered a uniquely valuable food among Italians. Broccoli was brought to England from Antwerp in the mid-18th century by Peter Scheemakers. Broccoli was first introduced to the United States by Southern Italian immigrants, but did not become widely popular until the 1920s.

There are three commonly grown types of broccoli. The most familiar is Calabrese broccoli, often referred to simply as “broccoli”, named after Calabria in Italy. It has large (10 to 20 cm) green heads and thick stalks. It is a cool season annual crop. Sprouting broccoli has a larger number of heads with many thin stalks. Purple cauliflower is a type of broccoli sold in southern Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and Australia. It has a head shaped like cauliflower, but consisting of tiny flower buds. It sometimes, but not always, has a purple cast to the tips of the flower buds.

In addition to the above, there are Broccolini or “Tenderstem broccoli”, which is a cross between broccoli and Chinese broccoli. Beneforté is a variety of broccoli containing 2–3 times more glucoraphanin that was produced by crossing broccoli with a wild Brassica variety, Brassica oleracea var villosa.

Broccoli is a cool-weather crop that does poorly in hot summer weather. Broccoli grows best when exposed to an average daily temperature between 18 and 23 °C. When the cluster of flowers, also referred to as a “head” of broccoli, appear in the centre of the plant, the cluster is green. Garden pruners or shears are used to cut the head about an inch from the tip. Broccoli should be harvested before the flowers on the head bloom bright yellow. While the heading broccoli variety performs poorly in hot weather, mainly due to insect infestation, the sprouting variety is more resistant, though attention must be paid to sucking insects (such as aphids), caterpillars and whiteflies. Spraying of Bacillus thuringiensis can control caterpillar attacks, while a citronella vase may ward off whiteflies.

Like other members of the cabbage family, broccoli is healthful and nutritious. 100 gram serving of raw broccoli provides 34 kcal and is an excellent source (20% or higher of the Daily Value, DV) of vitamin C and vitamin K. Raw broccoli also contains moderate amounts (10–19% DV) of several B vitamins and the dietary mineral manganese, whereas other essential nutrients are in low content. Broccoli has low content of carbohydrates, protein, fat, and dietary fibre. 

Boiling broccoli reduces the levels of sulforaphane, with losses of 20–30% after five minutes, 40–50% after ten minutes, and 77% after thirty minutes. However, other preparation methods such as steaming, microwaving, and stir-frying had no significant effect on the compounds, making these cooking methods preferable to boiling. Broccoli also contains the carotenoid compounds lutein and zeaxanthin in amounts about 6 times lower than in kale.

Some recipes including broccoli here:
and also part of the Friday Greens meme.


  1. I often add broccoli to vegetable soup. But since boiling broccoli quickly reduces the levels of nutrients, I might slow-cook the soup over the stove and then add the broccoli for a last minute burst of microwave.

    Do you add anything to broccoli when it is not in soup? I love shaved parmesan cheese and almond slivers.

  2. Broccoli when it does invariably is taken raw for Hank's palate. Just love the texture crunchy and all. Very informative take,as usual, Nicholas!