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Broccoli flowers are small, measuring approximately one centimeter in diameter, and appear along the ends of thin and delicate stems. Broccoli flowers can be enjoyed while the buds remain closed, appearing as swollen green broccoli florets. The blooms open into white or yellow ruffled ovate petals arranged symmetrically in a cross shape around thick yellow stamens. Their scent is very mild and has a more vegetal aroma than floral. Broccoli flowers have a flavor reminiscent of broccoli leaves, peppery with a honeyed finish. The fully opened blossoms have a soft texture, while the unopened buds offer a pleasant crunch. The stems of the Broccoli flowers can be bitter and woody if harvested too mature.
Broccoli flowers are available mainly in the summer through fall, but cold winter weather may trigger a second crop in some climates.
Broccoli flowers appear on the bolted florets of the broccoli plant, botanically classified as Brassica oleracea. Broccoli is a biennial cruciferous vegetable in the Brassicaceae family and is closely related to cabbage, turnips, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, and kale. The flowers in this family are all identifiably known by a distinct cross shape, which is where the family gets its other name, Cruciferae. Broccoli heads are composed of many compacted flower buds that have yet to open. The compact florets will loosen and grow upward when the plant undergoes specific stressors like heat, cold, or threats from pests. As this happens, the buds swell in size and eventually open into flowers. This process is known as bolting and is the first step in the plant’s reproduction. If left on the bush, the flowers will be pollinated and develop into seed pods. In commercial farming, bolted broccoli is considered a failed crop that must be removed. Still, broccoli flowers have become a specialty ingredient for many home cooks and chefs looking to use edible flowers in their recipes. The entire broccoli plant is also edible, including the leaves, stems, stalks, and heads.
Once the broccoli plant bolts, the nutritional value of the plant decreases; however, Broccoli flowers will have a similar nutritional makeup to broccoli heads. Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C to strengthen the immune system, boost collagen production, and reduce inflammation. The vegetable is also a rich source of vitamin K to assist in faster wound healing. It contains antioxidants that can help eliminate free radicals, fiber to stimulate the digestive tract, and lower amounts of vitamin A, potassium, folate, and phosphorus.
Broccoli flowers have a sweet and slightly peppery flavor that suits various culinary applications. The slightly opened blossoms can be lightly cooked on the stalk, while fully opened flowers are better consumed raw. The flowers may be removed and eaten by themselves or used with the stalks and florets in salads or blended into pesto. Broccoli flowers can be floated atop soups, added to spring risotto featuring broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, or used to garnish curries, braised meats, and grain dishes. The delicate blossoms can be folded into dips and butter, pressed into cheeses, or baked into bread for visual appeal. Their peppery bite balances the richness of smoked meats and cheeses and adds spice to green salads. Broccoli flowers pair with cheeses like cheddar, parmesan, and Swiss, as well as garlic, lemon, mustard, bacon, ham, onion, leek, red pepper flakes, anchovies, and capers. Broccoli flowers will keep up to five days when refrigerated.
Broccoli flowers are harvested from plants that have begun vertical growth and flowering, a process known as bolting. Bolting marks the end of the plant’s life cycle, and in commercial farming, this often means the end of a harvestable crop. This is because nutrients are diverted from other edible parts of the plant resulting in changes to the plant’s flavor, texture, and appearance. Bolted crops are a farming byproduct that is likely removed and discarded, resulting in a loss of production and profit if the plant has bolted prematurely. However, the growing popularity of locally sourced products and the drive to create unique and inspired dishes have resulted in a demand for these byproducts by chefs and home cooks. Farmers markets have become the perfect venue for farmers to showcase beautiful and flavorful flowers from bolted broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. Chefs are inspired to use a vegetable they have seen many times before in a new way, and farmers can create a second revenue source with products that would typically be thrown in the compost pile. Broccoli flowers are also a popular edible flower for home gardeners who find it hard to avoid their broccoli bolting in the summer heat. Broccoli flowers can be sauteed and added to salads when harvested early, increasing yield and reducing waste within the garden. The showy flowers also attract valuable pollinators to the garden, making them a useful byproduct for farmers and home gardeners.
Broccoli is native to the Mediterranean region and Asia Minor. The Etruscans developed the vegetable from an ancient, wild cabbage. The wild cabbage was selectively bred for many generations to exhibit improved traits, including flavor, size, and texture. The first domesticated version of broccoli was brought from Turkey to Southern Italy sometime before the 1st century. Broccoli continued to be cultivated in Italy, eventually developing into Calabria Broccoli, the compact heads of undeveloped flowers widely popular today. Broccoli was introduced to France in the 16th century and England in the 18th century. Broccoli plants were brought to North America by English immigrants. The vegetable did not gain popularity in the United States until the 1920s, when the D’Arrigo brothers planted the first commercial broccoli fields in San Jose, California. The crops were shipped to Boston, and after its commercial release, broccoli rapidly increased in demand, establishing the vegetable as a commercial crop. Today California remains the largest producer of broccoli in the United States. Broccoli flowers remain a commercial farming byproduct and are not widely cultivated. However, they can be found in home gardens, at farmers markets, and in stores specializing in edible flowers and microgreens.
Recipes that include Broccoli Flowers. One is easiest, three is harder.
|The Glutton Life||Broccoli Flower Salad (Bolting Broccoli Recipe)|
|Maria Marlowe||Paleo Broccoli Pesto Pizza|
|Food Blogga||Mizuna and Broccoli Flower Salad|
|NY Times||Stir-fried Broccoli Stalks and Flowers, Red Peppers, Peanuts and Tofu|
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Union Square Greenmarket
Near New York, United States
About 101 days ago, 10/21/22
Sharer's comments : Broccoli flowers at Union Square Green Market. Grown by Back Home Farm. New York..
Santa Monica Farmers Market
McGrath Family FarmsNear Santa Monica, California, United States
About 621 days ago, 5/19/21
Santa Monica Farmers Market
Coleman Family FarmsNear Santa Monica, California, United States
About 670 days ago, 3/31/21