Broccoli comes from Italy, where it was grown in ancient Roman times. Today it's a year-round staple for cooks everywhere, and numerous heirloom varieties are starting to appear in farmer’s markets and specialty grocers, with colorful hues from green to purple to white. Other new arrivals on the veggie scene, all relatives or hybrids of broccoli, include broccoflower, broccolette and Romanesco.
Broccoli is tasty raw and often appears in salads and on crudité platters, but it’s even more delicious cooked. Broccoli is a versatile vegetable and works beautifully when roasted, steamed, braised, stir-fried or sautéed. Properly cooked, broccoli keeps its bright green color and has a gently crisp-tender texture.
Why choose organic broccoli?
- Broccoli is #27 on the Environmental Working Group's “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce,” a list of produce that carries the most pesticide residues when grown conventionally. So choosing organic broccoli makes good sense — especially for children, whose growing bodies are so much more susceptible to environmental chemical exposures than adults’.
- At Earthbound Farm, we grow our broccoli without toxic synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, using sustainable farming methods that protect the environment and help keep pesticides out of our soil, air, water and food supply. Organic food is the healthiest choice for people and the planet — and we think organic broccoli tastes better, too!
- WhatsOnMyFood.org from the Pesticide Action Network shows you searchable results for vegetables like broccoli and a wide range of other organic and conventional foods. It’s an easy-to-use and empowering tool for learning about pesticide residues and their health effects for all of us.
How to select and store broccoli
- Fresh broccoli has a clean smell. Select specimens with tight, compact buds; slender, firm stalks; and fresh-looking leaves. The florets should be deep green or green tinged with purple. If the buds are yellowing, or many are open, the head is past its prime.
- Avoid broccoli with big, thick stems — that broccoli is overly mature, and as a result, its florets will likely be tough and strongly flavored.
- Store unwashed broccoli in a large, unsealed or perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to 5 days but will gradually lose its firmness and sweet, fresh taste.
Tips for using broccoli
- Peel broccoli stalks with a vegetable peeler to remove the tough outer skin so the stalks and florets cook in the same amount of time. Unpeeled stalks require longer cooking, which will result in overcooked florets.
- If you can’t peel the stalks, split them lengthwise from the base to about halfway up the stem so they’ll cook faster. Alternately, separate the florets from the stalks and cook the stalks first, adding the florets several minutes later.
- Broccoli can stand up to all kinds of accompaniments; don’t be shy about pairing it with salty, pungent, spicy or briny flavors.