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Broccoli

Broccoli - Collards
Broccoli is a cultivar of wild cabbage, this is a picture of Collards, a variety of cabbage.

History

Broccoli is a cultivar of wild cabbage, which originated along the coast of the Mediterranean and was domesticated thousands of years ago. Wild cabbage was eventually bred into many cultivars including broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts and kohlrabi.

The origins of cultivating broccoli trace back to Italy in ancient Roman times and was first introduced to England in 1720. Broccoli was brought to America by Italian immigrants in the 1900s and started being commercially grown in California in the 1920s.

Planting, Growing and Harvesting

Planting

Broccoli is transplanted using a start, also known as a plug, or direct seeded into a field. In Oregon, planting typically takes place in the spring once soil temperatures have reached 50 degrees Fahrenheit and after the possibility of a hard frost has passed. Broccoli is a cool-season crop that is sensitive to heat and should not be exposed to extreme temperatures.

Growing

Broccoli plants require full sun, well-drained fertile soil and plenty of water. Plants should receive proper amounts of water as they have shallow root systems and can dry out quickly. Broccoli is also a heavy feeding plant, meaning it uptakes a lot of nutrients, and will benefit from fertilizer or compost application.

Harvesting

Broccoli is ready for harvest when the head is firm and full size. Do not wait until the buds start to open. Broccoli is susceptible to wilting in the heat, so it is best to harvest in the morning when temperatures are cool. Once broccoli is mature, crews cut the head off of the plant with a small knife. This job is very labor intensive because each head has to be cut individually. Once the head is cut, broccoli is sorted from debris on a conveyor and deposited into a truck. Finally, broccoli is transported to a processing facility where it is kept cool until being processed or sent to market.

Broccoli Anatomy

A broccoli plant has many different parts. The edible part of broccoli is recognizable by its dark green crown composed of florets. The top of the florets consist of many tiny buds that are actually flowers. Broccoli is always harvested before the flowers bloom. Along with the crown, the top part of the stem is edible as well as the small tender leaves near the base of the crown.

Nutrition

Broccoli is a very healthy vegetable that provides an abundance of different vitamins and minerals. This hearty vegetable contains vitamin A and vitamin C, as well as calcium and iron. Broccoli is also a good source of fiber and potassium.

Broccoli
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Calabrese Broccoli

Calabrese Broccoli

Calabrese broccoli is the most common type of broccoli grown in the United States. It has a large green head and thick stalk.

Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli rabe has thinner stalks and a stronger flavor than the calabrese. It is often used in Italian cuisine.

Broccoli Romanesco

Broccoli Romanesco

This type of broccoli is bright green in color and is related to traditional broccoli and cauliflower. This vegetable can be prepared like broccoli or cauliflower and has a similar taste.

Broccolini

Broccolini

Broccolini is also referred to as baby broccoli. It is a cross between calabrese broccoli and Chinese broccoli. It has a long, slender stalk and small buds that resemble a calabrese broccoli floret. Broccolini has a sweeter flavor than calabrese broccoli.

 

Broccoli and Cheddar Soup

This kid-friendly broccoli soup recipe is very easy to make and is sure to be a hit!
Broccoli Soup

Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds broccoli (about 1 large head)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, medium dice
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium russet potato (about 8 ounces)
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or water
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 5 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
Broccoli Soup

Directions

  1. Remove the florets from the broccoli head and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Place half in a large bowl and half in a small bowl; set aside. Cut off the bottom of the stalk and use a vegetable peeler to trim away the woody outer layer. Cut the stalk into 1-inch pieces and place them in the large bowl with the florets; set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, peel the potato and cut it into 1-inch pieces. Add the potato, chicken broth, water and reserved pieces of stalk and florets from the large bowl to the saucepan, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the potato pieces and broccoli stalks can be easily pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the remaining florets into 1/4-inch pieces; set aside.
  4. Using a blender, purée the soup in batches until smooth, removing the small cap from the blender lid (the pour lid) and covering the space with a kitchen towel (this allows steam to escape and prevents the blender lid from popping off). Place the blended soup in a clean saucepan and return it to low heat. Add the reserved broccoli florets and simmer until they are tender and can easily be pierced with a knife, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cheese and sour cream. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.

Recipe provided by: https://www.chowhound.com/recipes/broccoli-and-cheddar-soup-29294

Fun Facts

  1. Broccoli has been consumed by Romans since as far back as 600 B.C.
  2. The name broccoli originated from the Italian word broccolo which means “flowering crest of a cabbage.”
  3. Broccoli is derived from cabbage and is a part of the mustard family.
  4. The most common variety of broccoli is Calabrese broccoli.
  5. The head of broccoli is composed of flower buds.
  6. Broccoli is a cool season crop.
  7. In 1724, Philip Miller’s “Gardener’s Dictionary” referred to broccoli as “Italian asparagus”.

Related References

https://portlandnursery.com/docs/veggies/broccoli.pdf

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/transplant-broccoli-35781.html

https://www.thespruce.com/broccoli-history-1807573

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/fertilizers-broccoli-22948.html

https://extension.psu.edu/broccoli-production

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Broccoli

https://dpi.wi.gov/sites/default/files/imce/school-nutrition/pdf/fact-sheet-broccoli.pdf