Harvesting and Using Fresh Broccoli

Harvesting and Using Fresh Broccoli
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Broccoli is full of Vitamin C, and is also a good source for Vitamin A, Vitamin K and potassium. It's also one of the "love it or hate it" veggies. There doesn't seem to be opinions in-between! It's so good for you though, that it seems to me everyone just needs to find a recipe that appeals to them, rather than writing it off entirely. My kids always called broccoli "little trees" and we tried to make it a fun vegetable. Well that, and our rule of always having to at least try something before judging it helped too.
Broccoli should be harvested before ANY tiny yellow flowers appear on the head. This is a sign that's it's overmature and may be bitter. You want to harvest it, regardless of the size, when it's compact and tightly formed. You may get one large head and many small ones. Leave some of the stem from the first head on the plant and side shoots will form that can be harvested too.

Store broccoli in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, and use it within 3-5 days. Sooner is better because the vitamin content will continue to decrease the longer it's stored. You can freeze broccoli florets by blanching them in boiling water for 3 minutes or steaming for 5 minutes. Cool in ice water and place in freezer bags or containers.

Herbs that go well with broccoli are caraway seed, dill, mustard seed, tarragon, basil, oregano, garlic and marjoram.

Garlic Broccoli


1 1/2 pounds fresh broccoli

10 cloves fresh garlic unpeeled

1/3 cup wine or herb vinegar

3 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. salt

Separate the broccoli into flowerets, then peel main think stem and slice into thin strips. Crush the garlic partially, using the flat side of a knife. Fill a large pot with water, add all ingredients. Make sure the broccoli stems are submerged, and cook, covered, until tender. Drain and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Italian Style Broccoli


1 each broccoli, whole head

1 quart water

1 tsp. salt

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. minced garlic

pepper to taste

2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated

Separate the broccoli florets and trim the skin from the stalks. Put the broccoli stems in boiling water with salt. About 1 minute later, add the floweret's. Return to a boil and cook for 6 to 8 minutes until crisp tender. Drain. Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the garlic. Cook over medium heat for a minute and add the broccoli. Cook, while stirring, for about 2 minutes. Season and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese to taste.

Herbed Broccoli


1 pound fresh broccoli florets

2 tbsp. butter or margarine

1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice

1 1/2 tsp. minced onion

1/4 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. each dried thyme, marjoram and basil

Cook until the broccoli is crisp tender. Melt the butter; add lemon juice, onion, salt and herbs. Drain broccoli and place in a serving dish. Add the butter mixture; stir to coat. You can use fresh minced herbs as well, just double the amount.

Broccoli with Vinaigrette


1 head Broccoli

1/2 cup wine or herb vinegar

2 tsp. hearty or Dijon mustard

2 garlic cloves, minced

Cut the broccoli into bite-size florets. Peel the stems and slice into 1/4" thick pieces. Steam just until tender, about 3 minutes. While the broccoli is steaming, whisk the dressing ingredients in a bowl. Add the steamed broccoli and toss to mix. Serve immediately. Serve 4-6.

Chicken Cashew Stir Fry


1/2 cup raw cashews

2 tsp. vegetable or peanut oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 chicken breast halves, boneless, skinless, cubed

1 cup broccoli flowerets

1 cup chicken broth

2 tbsp. soy sauce

2 tsp. cornstarch

1/4 tsp. fresh, minced ginger

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

Lightly brown nuts in vegetable oil in large non-stick skillet over medium heat, about 3 minutes. Remove. Sauté the onion, ginger and garlic for 2 minutes. Add chicken; sauté until browned about 8 minutes. Add broccoli, 3/4 cup broth and soy. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Dissolve cornstarch in the remaining broth; stir into skillet. Simmer, stirring, over medium heat until thickened. Cook for 1 minute. Return the cashews to skillet with salt and pepper.

Easy Broccoli Soup


1 pound fresh broccoli florets

1 cup sliced sweet onion

4 cloves garlic, peeled

2 cups buttermilk

salt and pepper to taste

Combine the broccoli, onions and garlic in a steamer basket. Steam over boiling water for about 12-15 minutes till broccoli is tender. Transfer the vegetables to a food processor or blender and puree. Stir in buttermilk and either serve immediately or reheat gently. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4.

Dilled Broccoli and Potatoes


2 medium red potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces

Handful of fresh dill leaves

1/2 pound (1/4 cups) broccoli florets

3 green onions, minced

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or herb vinegar)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tsp. fresh minced dill

black pepper and salt to taste

Steam the potatoes over boiling water while covered with a handful of dill leaves for 5 minutes. Add the broccoli to this and steam 5-10 minutes longer till the vegetables are tender. Add the potatoes and broccoli to a serving bowl. Add the green onions, lemon, minced dill, oil and salt and pepper to taste. Toss. Serve warm.

Related Features:

Carrot Recipes

Cauliflower Recipes

Brussel Sprouts


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at Harvestmoongazette.blogspot.com.


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