The name's Broccoli – James Broccoli, and I'm licensed to heal. Yes, that's right, I'm one of the world's most powerful agents in the silent war against that arch-villain – Cancer. Broccoli is one of the healthiest of vegetables and a powerhouse of vitamins and nutrients ready to protect you.
Let me tell you more about how I can help you. I belong to the Brassica family, along with cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. When cut, I look like a small, dense tree with green to white branches ending in clumps of small, rounded and tightly packed green to purplish green flower buds.
We have a delicious flavour and if everyone on the planet ate broccoli, we'd wipe out hunger and disease.
We are available all year round and we're at our very best in the colder months of the year from June - September.
In Australia, we're not sold by variety – we are simply Broccoli.
We can either be grown from seed (which is sown directly into the soil) or more commonly from seedlings. We're a very strong growing plant (about 75-100cm) with large spreading blue-green leaves.
Our stem ends in a compact head of developing bluey-green to green flower buds, each head being 9-12cm wide. Below the main head, many side shoots grow and have much smaller flower clusters (2.5-7cm). Both the main head and the group of flower buds on the side shoots are harvested.
We're harvested when the flower buds are closed and compact with no yellowing buds or flowers showing. Heads are removed with about 10-15cm of stem attached. When the main head is cut, new shoots with smaller heads form, so a single plant will keep producing for many weeks.
We must be chilled c as soon as possible after harvest otherwise small yellow flower heads will develop rapidly, which are bitter in taste. Often you may see boxes of us arriving at the greengrocers covered in ice to keep us fresh.
To pick the best of us select fresh, bright-green broccoli heads which have compact clusters of tightly closed -florets. Stalks and stem leaves should be crisp and green.
Keep us dry. Store us in a vented recyclable plastic bag in the veggie crisper in your fridge for up to 5 days.
We come from the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor and spread to Italy in the 16th century. From there we travelled to northern Europe during the 17th century and we were introduced to England in the early 18th century.
Siberian broccoli, a small, hardy, purple member of our family was planted at Norfolk Island in 1788. Throughout the 19th century, purple and green varieties were available in Australia but they were not as popular as cabbage. It wasn't until the influx of Italian immigrants in the first half of this century that broccoli became more popular.
Preparation is simple, rinse in cold water, cut off the base then cut the broccoli head into small ‘florets' that look like little trees. Trim the stem. .
Very versatile, broccoli can be stir-fried, steamed, roasted and microwaved. Rapid cooking ensures the broccoli is just crunchy and vibrant green.
Add broccoli to fritters and hotcakes.
Add broccoli florets to your pasta pot in the last few minutes of cooking. Drain and mix with tomato pasta sauce and sprinkle with parmesan. Toss broccoli florets in olive oil and roast on a baking tray until just tender.
Plunge broccoli florets into a pot of boiling water and cook for a few minutes until vibrant. Drain, cool and add to all sorts of salads.
Here are some great Sydney Markets broccoli recipes for you to try: