Broccoli has many followers and also abundant detractors.
For those who have only tasted the supermarket variety, I can surely understand the lack of enthusiasm expressed when this topic is raised.
However, for those of us who garden, broccoli is terrifically tasty as well as a trouper in the veggie patch.
This sturdy plant begins by giving us a large head which needs to be trimmed and eaten before it becomes a flower.
It’s important to slice the stem on an angle. This allows any subsequent rain or watering to slide harmlessly down the side. If it is trimmed flat, water can pool on top and begin to rot the center thereby ruining the future crops which broccoli is waiting to deliver. Several days later you can return to the plant to see two, slightly smaller heads peeking up at you. Slice these off (again on an angle) and in another few days, there will be four even smaller heads to harvest. This process continues—with the heads getting tinier and tinier—until well after the first few frosts.
I like to freeze my broccoli. I start by washing it well and cutting it into large pieces. These will be taken out during the dormant months and made into broccoli over toast with a cheesy sauce or added to baked chicken or pot roast. Some of it will be cut slightly smaller so that it can be added to chicken or steak stir fries. The very small heads that come later will be used in quiches.
I place the broccoli in the top of a steamer and steam them for 3 minutes. Often, I will use tongs partway through and move the large stems around so that all of them get some heat.
I use my salad spinner next. I fill the base with cold water and add a bunch of ice. Putting the basket on top of the ice, I slip the steamed broccoli into the basket to cool it down.
Next, I spin the broccoli to get off the extra water and place it carefully in bags.
Here’s a photo of two bags of large broccoli for us, one for company and one for a stir-fry.
I always plant marigolds right in the beds with all of the brassicas (broccoli’s family). This greatly helps to keep the cabbage moth away. I didn’t find a single small, green worm when I harvested this broccoli. Otherwise, these worms can make a mess of the crop and render it unappetizing.
Celeste Longacre has been growing virtually all of her family’s vegetables for the entire year for over 30 years. She cans, she freezes, she dries, she ferments & she root cellars. She also has chickens.
Celeste has also enjoyed a longtime relationship with The Old Farmer’s Almanac as their astrologer!
Celeste's new book on living lightly on the Earth is due out September 25, 2014.