Broccoli: picking, selecting, storing
20 Oct 2013 05.46 am by Renny Wijeyamohan
Broccoli is a downright natural superfood. It’s high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron and calcium, while minerals it contains have been found to help the body resist viruses and cancers. Broccoli has gotten somewhat of a bad wrap in the media with both George Bush Snr and George Bush Jnr publicly stating that they don’t like broccoli (President Obama’s vegetable nemesis are beets). Don’t let this dissuade you though – broccoli is packed with vital nutrients that can make your diet healthier.
Broccoli is ready to harvest once a head appears on the broccoli plant. The head should be deep green coloured and around 9-15 centimetres wide (4-7 inches). The head should be firm and tight when the broccoli is ready to be picked. If you see any yellow on the head – pick the broccoli immediately or it will bloom or bolt and become inedible. To harvest the broccoli take a sharp tool and cut the stem about 13 centimetres (6 inches) below the main stem. In most types of broccoli, smaller side shoots will continue to grow on the plant where you made the initial cut on the main stem. You can harvest these as they become ready.
Choose deep green coloured broccoli with a firm and tight head and a firm stem - the deeper the green the higher the nutritional content of the broccoli. The clusters of buds on the head of the broccoli should be compact. Avoid broccoli that has open clusters of buds on the head, is yellowing, has flowered or has a limp or rubbery feel.
Store broccoli in the refrigerator in a perforated bag – it will last about 3-5 days stored in this manner. Broccoli that is unwashed will last a little longer, so don’t wash the broccoli until you are ready to use it. If you want to freeze broccoli you will need to blanch it first. To do this – slice the broccoli and place it in boiling water for about 3 minutes. After this place the sliced broccoli in some water with ice to cool down, before bagging and freezing. Frozen broccoli prepared in this way should last between 12 and 18 months.
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