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Arcadia broccoli has large, domed heads of tightly clustered flowers growing at the top of thick, stiff stalks. The purplish-green tops of the floret clusters are small-beaded and give off a frosted appearance. When young, the florets are small and surrounded by lance-shaped leaves. The crowns can measure anywhere from 15 to 20 centimeters in diameter when fully mature and can weigh more than 2 pounds apiece. The thick stems and florets offer a crisp texture with the earthy, peppery flavor akin to members of the cruciferous family.
Arcadia broccoli is available in the spring and through the early winter months.
Arcadia broccoli is an early to mid-season, hybrid variety of Brassica oleracea var. italica. This variety is popular with both commercial and home growers because of its disease resistance, and tolerance of both cold and heat. Most broccoli is grown for either the spring or fall seasons, whereas Arcadia broccoli can be grown for summer or winter harvest as well. The flowering crowns can be harvested when young, as baby broccoli, or when fully mature.
Nutrient-rich Arcadia broccoli is an excellent source of vitamins K and C, folate and chromium, a mineral that supports insulin function and helps regulate blood sugar. It is also a good source of fiber, the minerals phosphorus, manganese, and copper, potassium, and the vitamins A, B2, B6, and E. The healthy vegetable contains smaller amounts of magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B1 and B3, zinc, iron, calcium and selenium, and a moderate amount of protein.
Arcadia broccoli is well-suited for any type of application, whether raw or cooked. The heads keep their shape and hold up well for fresh eating. Cut the crowns into florets and add to green or quinoa salads. Cut florets can be steamed, roasted or blanched and served as a side dish alone or dressed. Chopped florets and stems can be added to egg dishes, quiches, sautés, pastas, pizzas and sauces. Roasted or steamed Arcadia broccoli can be pureed into soups or baby food. The stems can be peeled and shredded for fritters or a twist on coleslaw. Arcadia broccoli can be frozen after blanching, for future use. Arcadia broccoli stores best in the humidity drawer of the refrigerator and will keep for up to two weeks.
Arcadia broccoli produces a lot of side-shoots once the main head has been harvested. The plant will continue to produce these smaller heads, making the variety more appealing to farmers large and small, and home gardeners. It is also extremely disease-resistant, making Arcadia broccoli easier to grow on a large scale for commercial production. The smaller off-shoots can also be sold as ‘baby broccoli’.
Arcadia broccoli was developed by the Sakata Seed Company, which was founded in 1977. It is hardy and both heat and cold-tolerant, making it ideal for a variety of different climates and for growing year-round. It is one of the commonly grown varieties in California’s central and desert valleys and in the Pacific Northwest. It may be spotted at farmer’s markets or in home gardens throughout these areas and around the country.
Recipes that include Arcadia Broccoli. One is easiest, three is harder.
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