Most people don’t realize that broccoli leaves are edible. Don’t be fooled, they are as edible and as delicious as the head itself. Many people are surprised that the broccoli we buy at the store is just a small portion of the actual vegetable. It actually seems pretty wasteful to get rid of the leaves that are the majority of the plant.
Species: B. Oleracea
Binomial name: Brassica Oleracea
Broccoli Leaf Trivia
- Broccoli has been around for almost two thousand years.
- The name of the plant, “broccoli” comes from an Italian word “Broccolo” which means “the flowering crest of a cabbage”.
- Broccoli was used in Italy since the Roman Empire, but when it was introduced to England in the 18th century, it was known as “Italian asparagus”.
Broccoli Leaf Buying Guide
When buying broccoli leaves, you should look that there are no holes in them. Also, look for those that are medium-sized because that is a perfect size. Buy the ones that are perfectly straight and not wilted.
Broccoli Leaf Production & Farming in Texas
There are different varieties of broccoli located in the state of Texas. Early Dividend, Bonanza, Packman, Green Comet, Green Magic, Southern Comet, and Premium Crop. Broccoli usually prefers well-drained and fertile soil. They are decent on heavy soil, but they grow poorly on the sand. The best growing conditions in Texas are 70-80 degrees during the day, and 40-50 during the night. They do tolerate wide temperature fluctuations.
Broccolis don’t have too many problems with pesticides as they’ve been tested and about seventy percent had no pesticide residues. They aren’t that bothered with pests and diseases as they discharge glucosinolates which are insect deterring plant compounds, they share this characteristic with cabbage.
The broccoli originates from Asia Minor and the Eastern Mediterranian, and the sprouting broccoli was cultivated in Italy in Ancient Roman times. The vegetable was later introduced to England and America in the 1700s.
Broccoli is a cool-season crop and is usually planted in late winter, early spring, but you can also plant in mid to late summer for a late fall or early winter crop. You can’t really go wrong with the season you’re planting them. For spring planting, you should start the seeds 5 to 6 weeks before the last frost of spring. Afterward, transplant the seeds to the garden, after you’ve hardened the seeds for four days. Broccoli will become harvestable between 55 and 85 days when grown from transplants. You can start taking your first leaves when the main head of the broccoli crown is still dense and nestled a few inches below the tops of the highest leaves. Once a week harvest the older leaves as they begin to reach 4 to 6 inches in height.
Broccoli leaves are usually packed in any kind of boxes with their stem being tied together in a small batch. The leaves are very visible when purchasing, so you can still purchase the perfect broccoli leaves.
Enjoying Broccoli Leaves
There are a few ways that you can use broccoli leaves in the kitchen. You can remove the mid-rib, tear the leaves, and mix them into a saute. They can be tossed in a mixed salad as a substitute to kale, or they can be mixed as a smoothie.
Unwashed broccoli leaves should be sealed in a plastic bag before being stored in the refrigerator. The leaves can last up to two weeks in the fridge. If the leaves wilt a little, trim the stems and place them in a fridge overnight. You should remove the stems before eating.
Maybe just what you need is a quick skillet dinner with broccoli leaves. Heat oil on medium to high heat. Add bell pepper, sausage, and green beans and then saute until the vegetables are soft and the sausage is brown. Afterward, add broccoli leaves, pepper, and other spices and saute for 5-7 minutes until the leaves are softened. Before serving you can sprinkle the dish with some cheese.
Broccoli leaves are a great source of vitamins A and C, and just like many vegetables, they hold plenty of potassium.
When Are Broccoli Leaves in Season in Texas?
To find out when Broccoli Leaves are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.