All About Broccoli
Broccoli is the 11th most consumed fresh vegetable in the United States. Every year, we each consume around 6.7 pounds of fresh broccoli and 2.6 pounds of frozen broccoli. Here are some interesting facts about this favorite green.
How itâ€™s grown:
- Broccoli is grown year-round in Mexico and California! Other primary growing locations include Canada, Arizona, Florida, Maine and Wisconsin. It can be grown as a summer or fall crop.
- This vegetable prefers cooler climates, so California (which grows 90% of the broccoli we eat in the U.S.) is the ideal setting with its breezy coastline and lower evening temperatures.
- Broccoli tends to produce heads, flowers and seeds more rapidly if planted in early summer versus spring or fall.
- Optimal spacing for broccoli cultivation yields about 14,000-24,000 plants per acre (thatâ€™s about 8.15 tons of broccoli)!
How to shop for it:
- Look for broccoli with a rich green color and minimal to no yellowing. Broccoli florets should be firm and tight. Broccoli should have a texture that is not mushy or limp, but also not tough or â€śwoody.â€ť
How to store it:
- From its day of harvest, broccoli has a 10-14 day shelf life at 95-100% humidity. However, after purchasing from the grocery store, it can be sealed and stored in the refrigerator (<40Â° F) until the best by/use by date, or for 3-4 days after opening.
- Once you get home, wait until youâ€™re ready to eat or cook with the broccoli to wash it.
- Fresh broccoli can also be frozen for up to a year.
How to prepare it:
- Do not overcook broccoli. This can release an undesirable foul smell.
- No need to throw away the stems! Peeling off the outside layer of stalks uncovers a tender stalk that can be pureed and combined with cheese or nondairy cheese as a spread, shredded to use in slaws, saved for homemade vegetable stock or thrown in a frittata.
- If you purchase broccoli with leaves still intact, they can be used in dishes. The leaves can be cooked (and taste) similar to collard greens. However, as broccoli matures, its leaves become more bitter, so it may be wise to seek a younger plant or season the leaves well upon preparation.
How to eat it:
- The options are endless with cooked broccoli! It can be used in a casserole, stir-fry, pasta (such as fettuccine alfredo), gratin, quiche, potato cake, fried with tempura, or even served atop pizza.
- This green also fairs well raw in slaws and salads. Some favorite ingredients to combine with broccoli include pears, pine nuts, raisins, apples, water chestnuts and onions.
- Broccoli is cholesterol free (characteristic of all plants), fat free and very low in sodium. As with many vegetables, this veggie is high in water content and low in calories.
- Broccoli also contains the compounds indoles and isothiocyanates, which may have anticancer properties.
Broccoli is high in vitamin A, vitamin C and folate. Fresh broccoli also has 2.4g protein, 2.2g fiber and 269mg potassium per serving.