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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 has thinner stalks and a stronger flavor than the calabrese. It is often used in Italian cuisine.
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 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.
Recipe provided by: https://www.chowhound.com/recipes/broccoli-and-cheddar-soup-29294