Simple tips to get the most out of your broccoli

You want only the freshest broccoli to eat raw, cook or preserve.

Broccoli comes from the Italian word brocco. Brocco means sprout, bud, or shoot and that comes from the Latin word brachium meaning an arm or branch.

Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family. One pound of broccoli equals about six cups of raw, trimmed florets and stems and 3 cups when cooked. Broccoli is high in fiber, vitamins A and D.

Broccoli grows and produces the best during cool seasons of the year. After the larger central head is cut off side heads develop. These side heads can produce quite a lot of broccoli. Two crops, one grown in the spring and the other in the fall, can be grown in most parts of the country. There are also now some new heat tolerant varieties that can grow in all but the hottest parts of the summer.

To store fresh broccoli keep it in the refrigerator in a plastic bag with holes and use it within about three days. The longer you store it the lower the vitamin content will be. When you are ready to use it rinse it with cool running water to clean it.

If you want to preserve some broccoli Michigan State University Extension has the following tips for you.

  • The best way to preserve broccoli is to freeze it
  • Two to three pounds of fresh broccoli yields two pints of frozen broccoli.
  • Frozen broccoli may be even more healthful than some of the fresh produce sold in grocery stores since those products will degrade over time.
  • Canning broccoli is not recommended. It usually discolors and grows stronger in flavor when canned.
  • Drying isn’t recommended because of broccoli’s strong flavor, it ends up being of low quality and undesirable for use.

Just because something isn’t recommended doesn’t mean you can’t try it. If you want to try drying it this is what you can do:

  1. cut it up as for serving
  2. rinse it thoroughly
  3. water or steam blanch it for 4-5 minutes
  4. dry it in a dehydrator for 12- 15 hours or until it is brittle or crisp. Then you can determine if the quality and flavor is fine with you in your soups and casseroles

Always remember to follow the directions carefully when preserving all your food by using research-based recipes found in updated Ball Blue Books, So Easy to Preserve, the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning and Preserving and Extension bulletins.

MSU Extension's Michigan Fresh offers fact sheets on recommended varieties, storage, food safety and preserving techniques for fruits and vegetables including broccoli.

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