Do You Know When is Broccoli in Season?
Broccoli is one of the most nutritious vegetables out there. It is also quite versatile as you can use it in a wide array of dishes. Broccoli is a seasonal vegetable. And as they say, fruits and vegetables taste better and are cheaper when they are in season. Knowing when is broccoli in season allows you to get the best out of this vegetable.
Before we will answer the question when is broccoli in season, it would be good to have a little bit of background about this vegetable.
What is Broccoli
Broccoli is a member of the Brassica family. This vegetable is a common ingredient in many oriental dishes. There are different methods to prepare and cook broccoli including blanching, stir-frying and steaming. It is also best served with butter and lemon zest or with Béarnaise or Hollandaise sauce. Some people also prefer their broccoli served au gratin.
In the Italian cuisine, broccoli is often added to pizza, vegetable lasagna and other pasta recipes. You can also add it to soups as well as salads. Moreover, it is popularly used as crudités and is served with dips and dressings. You can also add it as a garnish to your buffet to add color to it.
Considered as a nutrition powerhouse, broccoli is high in vitamins A and C as well as in iron and selenium. It is also a good source of dietary fiber, folic acid, lutein and other nutrients that help in maintaining good eyesight. It is important to avoid overcooking broccoli as this will not only affect its crispiness, but it will also destroy its water soluble vitamins such as the folic acid and Vitamin C.
More broccoli recipes can be found on RealSimple.
When is Broccoli in Season?
Many people thought that broccoli is available all year round since you still can buy them at the supermarket regardless of the time of the year. While this vegetable is available all year, they are in season from October to April. Other vegetables that are also available in this season are beets, acorn squash, cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, leeks, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, turnips, and chard among others.
You can save a lot if you buy broccoli when they are in season. You can then process them for longer storage.
You can grow broccoli from seeds but if you want a good head start, you can also buy broccoli transplants in most garden centers. This is especially true if you are already late in the planting season.
The ideal time to transplant is about a month before the start of the last expected frost date. Broccoli are sun-loving plants so make sure they get around 80-100% sunlight exposure daily. If planting in your garden, be sure to mix some compost on the soil before planting. The soil should also drain well. Space the plants apart by about 18 inches. Water the plants regularly. Some gardeners add organic fertilizer upon transplanting to give the them a boost.
A healthy broccoli has big gray-green leaves. The tip of the stem develops flower buds after two or three months from planting. Later on, these buds develop into the broccoli that we see in the supermarket. When your garden produces smaller heads, don’t despair as most parts of the broccoli are edible. Also, once you cut the main head, typically, smaller side shoots appear on the stalk.
Look for broccoli with buds that are still deep green in color and the clusters are tight and compact. The stems should also be light green and without white and thick stalks as these will be tougher. Also avoid broccoli with yellow flower buds as this is a sign of age. A 1 1/2 pound bunch of broccoli will produce about four cups when it has been trimmed.
When buying broccoli, check the flower head, stalk and leaves. A fresh broccoli is one that still looks and feels fresh with all the florets tightly packed together. When fresh, the buds are dark green in color while the stems are green. Avoid buying those with stems that are already white in color and with thick stalks as they are already tough. Also, yellowing of the flower buds is a sign of age.
In supermarkets, you could find broccoli that are already pre-packed. Avoid buying those kinds as they normally have shorter shelf lives than those that are loose. If you are following a recipe that requires a certain amount of broccoli, you could estimate that a 1 and ½ pound of broccoli would yield about 4 cups of edible parts after trimming.
When in season, it’s hard not to get tempted to buy more. When you buy in bulk, there are techniques that can help extend the shelf life of broccoli.
To store broccoli, leave it unwashed but you can dust it off to remove dirt. Take off any bumps on the skin or dead leaves. Place the broccoli inside a plastic bag so it can still breathe and then store it in the coldest part of the refrigerator. It should stay fresh for up to 10 days.
Another way to store broccoli is by freezing. But before you freeze them, you need to blanch the broccoli first. Prepare the broccoli by separating the stems from the buds or florets. Boil salted water in the pot. Once it has started boiling, drop the stems first. After a minute, add the florets. Remove from heat after a minute, just when they turn bright green. After removing from the heat, drop the broccoli in cold water. Drain and lay on dish towels to dry. Place them inside freezer bags and pop them inside the freezer. It should keep the broccoli for about a year.
Are you excited for the next harvest season of broccoli? When that time comes, I hope that this guide will help you harvest or buy fresh broccoli and then store them for future consumption.
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