Common Name: Broccoli (Brassica oleracea)
Seed Saving Level: Advanced ~ May cross with other B. Oleracea members: cabbage, kale, collards, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and kohlrabi. Beginners should limit themselves to one variety per year.
Planting: Broccoli likes full sun to light shade. Plant seeds ¼-½˝ deep. Seeds can also be started indoors 4-6 weeks before planting. Space plants 18 ~ 24˝ apart. Broccoli will tolerate warmer temps, but grows best in 60’s weather and can handle a light freeze.
Harvesting: Harvest broccoli heads when the buds are dark blue-green and tightly closed. If underside turns yellow, it is overripe. Once the head is harvested, some varieties produce side shoots. Regular harvesting of shoots will encourage more growth.
Seed Saving: Heads grown for seed should not be harvested since they are made up of flower-bud clusters. Broccoli will produce seed stalks 4 feet or taller, and the yellow flowers attract bees. Gather seed stalks when seed pods are dry, taking care to prevent losses due to shattering. Use an eight inch screen to help with cleaning.
Sources: Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners by Suzanne Ashworth, The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds by Robert Gough and Cheryl Moore-Gough, highmowingseeds.com/organic-broccoli-growing-and-seed-saving-info.html, almanac.com.
Books and ebooks:
- Brassicas How Many Bites?
- Mr. Wilkinson's Vegetables
- The Beginner's Guide to Growing Heirloom Vegetables
Recipe: Risotto with Vegetables
- ½ pound broccoli (1 medium-size stalk)
- 1 cup blanched fava beans or frozen baby lima beans
- ½ tsp salt, plus more as needed
- 3 tbls extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup minced scallions
- 1 tbls minced shallot
- 2 ½ cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 6 ½ cups hot vegetable stock
- 2 tbls unsalted butter, cut into bits
- ½ cup freshly grated Grana Padano, Parmigiano-Reggiano, or Pecorino Romano cheese
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
Trim broccoli florets from stems, small enough to fit on a spoon (~1 ¼ c). Steam the florets just until bright green, about 1 min. Reserve steaming liquid. Transfer stems to blender or food processor, and process until smooth. Add liquid to make smooth. Scrape purée into small bowl, and set aside. If using the baby lima beans, cook them in a small saucepan of boiling salted water for 2 min. Drain them thoroughly and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy casserole or pot over medium heat. Add the scallions and shallot and sauté until translucent, stirring often, about 4 min. Add the rice, and stir to coat with the oil. Toast the rice until the edges become translucent, 1-2 min. Pour in wine and stir until evaporated. Add ½ c of hot stock and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until stock is absorbed. Continue to add stock in small batches and cook until each batch is absorbed. After risotto has cooked for 12 min, stir in broccoli purée and favas or limas, 3 min later add the broccoli florets. Stir, adjust heat so rice is simmering gently while adding stock until rice is creamy but al dente (~18 min). Remove casserole from heat. Whip in butter first, until melted, then cheese.
Source: Lidia’s Favorite Recipes: 100 Foolproof Italian Dishes (2012) by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich.