Sometimes it can seem frustrating to try a new recipe and not know how much of an ingredient to purchase at the store. Sometimes they give you a quantity of broccoli in volume (2 cups), sometimes as a weight (12 ounces) and still others the broccoli is given as a produce description (4 large heads). But what are they really talking about? So how much is in a broccoli head?
In order to figure out "how much is in a head of broccoli?" we took a trip to the grocery store to check out the produce selection. We determined that the typical size of broccoli is a medium head about 9 ounces in weight. This is what we chose to use for our test sample.
When we removed the broccoli florets from the medium head, we consistently ended up with 3 1/2 cups of veggies to use. When slicing the stems, 1 broccoli head yielded about 2 cups of stems for cooking. If you need a full pound of broccoli for your recipe, then you will need to purchase about 11/2 medium heads.
Did you know that broccoli originated in Italy off of the Mediterranean in the 6th century BC but today China is the top producer at over 8 million tons a year. Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family and its name is derived from an Italian word meaning "arm."
Next time your recipe calls for a cup of broccoli florets or sliced stems you'll know how much you need to purchase at the store to cover it. You can also use our conversion tool below for any custom how much broccoli is in a..." measurements you need.
Broccoli is a vegetable in the cabbage family. It is related to cabbage, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, Romanesco, collard greens, bok choy, arugula and kohlrabi.
They all originated from a wild mustard plant that has been bred to enhance different features, and all come from the species Brassica oleracea.
Broccoli plants were bred for bigger stems and flowers, while other cultivars were bred for more and larger leaf buds (cabbage and Brussels sprouts) and leaves (kale and collard greens), or other attributes.
Broccoli is the flowering part of the plant, harvested before the flower buds bloom. If allowed to mature, the heads turn yellow and develop seeds, which can be planted to grow more broccoli.
The most commonly used type of broccoli is Calabrian broccoli. Other types include sprouting broccoli and Chinese broccoli. Broccolini is a cross between broccoli and kai-lan, or Chinese broccoli. Broccoli rabe is not related to broccoli, it is related to turnips.
Broccoli looks like a small green tree on a thick stem. The tops of broccoli are tightly clustered flower buds that have not started to bloom. When purchased, it should be dark green and have tightly clustered buds, and it should feel heavy.
Older broccoli will turn paler green or even yellow, and will feel light compared to fresher broccoli. If the head has turned slimy, it's too old to eat.
Broccoli has an earthy and sometimes slightly bitter taste. It contains glucosinolate compounds, which some people find extremely bitter and others, due to our genetic variations, can't taste at all.
Broccoli has many uses! It is often eaten raw, usually with dips such as blue cheese and ranch, or added to salads. Raw broccoli makes a great portable, healthy snack. It can also be turned into a slaw by finely cutting it (or using the steel blade in a food processor bowl) and then dressing it.
Broccoli can be steamed, boiled, baked, grilled, roasted, pureed, etc. Some people prefer their broccoli raw or lightly cooked to preserve the crunch, others prefer it cooked to a softer texture. It is sometimes left in large pieces in stir fries, smaller pieces in soups and casseroles, while other recipes call for pureeing it.
It is used as a side on its own with all kinds of different seasonings and cheese, it can be used on pizza and in salads, stir-frys, gratins, pasta dishes, soups, and casseroles. You can even make pesto out of it! It goes well with seafood, beef, chicken and pork.
Broccoli can be substituted with almost any other member of the Brassica family- kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi, Romanesco or collard greens - depending on why you are making the substitution.
People who object to broccoli may also object to those relatives, however. If you want to avoid the Brassicas, broccoli can be replaced with green beans, zucchini, spinach or asparagus.
Many dogs like raw or cooked broccoli, but if it has been cooked with a lot of oil or spices it may cause digestive upsets. Broccoli can cause gas in dogs just as it does in people.
Cats are not known to like broccoli, but it won’t hurt them.
Omnivorous lizards can eat small amounts of raw broccoli once a month, but it has more phosphorus than calcium and too much can cause calcium to be leached out of the bones and lead to fractures, so only feed it as an occasional treat. Cooked broccoli can cause diarrhea in lizards.
Parrots often enjoy raw or cooked broccoli, and it is safe for them. Raw broccoli has more nutrients than cooked, and parrots like to chew on the stalks and florets, which can be stuck between the cage bars or hung from the top of the cage to give them more interesting ways to eat them.
Yes! Broccoli contains raffinose, a sugar that is not digestible and ferments in your intestines. It also has a lot of fiber, which can also lead to fermentation and gas. It also contains ethyl mercaptans, which contribute to odor in the gas.
Sauteing, baking, or boiling it can help (but will decrease the nutrient content); microwaving only helps a little. The amount you eat will also affect the amount of gas produced.
Broccoli should be kept in the refrigerator. If you plan to use it the same day you buy it, it will be fine in an unsealed plastic or silicon bag in the vegetable drawer.
If it will be a few days before you use it, cut off the dry bottom of the stem and place it in a container of water, just as you would do with flowers. Cover it with a slightly damp paper towel so it doesn't dry out. Moisten the paper towel once or twice a day.
If you don't have room in your refrigerator to store it upright, put it in an unsealed bag. Sealing the bag will cause moisture to accumulate and can lead to slime and rot.
Depending on how fresh it is when you buy it, broccoli can last up to two days at room temperature. It won’t usually grow dangerous bacteria like meat does, but it will turn yellow and lose its freshness, texture and taste. Broccoli that has turned yellow is often bitter.
Cut fresh broccoli should be stored in a bowl covered with a damp paper towel. Airtight containers make it go bad more quickly. It should be used within two days, so don’t chop it until you are ready to use it.
It can last almost a week if it hasn’t been chopped, but the sooner you use it, the better it will be. Broccoli old enough to turn yellow can be unpleasantly bitter.
If you are going to use it within a day or two of purchase, it can be stored in an unsealed bag. Air circulation keeps it fresher.
If it’s going to be longer than that, store broccoli as you would fresh flowers. Cut half an inch off the dry end of the stem, place the broccoli with the stem end down in a Mason jar, heavy glass or small pitcher with water in the bottom, and cover it with moist paper towels. Refresh the paper towels’ moisture twice a day.
If you don’t have room to store it upright, cut off the end of the stalk and wrap it in wet paper towels. Put a small plastic bag or plastic wrap around the end of the stalk. Store the broccoli in an unsealed bag, covered with moist paper towels. Sealing the bag may cause it to rot and get slimy.
If it turns yellow with age, it also gets bitter.
Broccoli is one of the best vegetables to freeze, but it must be blanched or steamed first or it loses its taste, color and texture. To blanch, cut clean broccoli into florets and place them in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove them from the boiling water and immediately place them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Once it is cool, drain the florets and stems on paper towels.
To steam, put a couple inches of water into a pot and put in a steamer basket. Add the broccoli and steam for 3-5 minutes.
With either method, the florets should be a vibrant green once they are steamed or blanched.
Pat them dry with paper towels, then place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and place the cookie sheet in the freezer. Once the broccoli has frozen, it can be transferred into a sealed bag or container and frozen for up to a year.
It can be cooked directly from frozen in most recipes. Because it has been blanched, frozen broccoli can release a lot of water when it is cooked.
To cut broccoli, first cut off and discard the bottom half inch of the stem, which has usually dried out. To get pretty florets, hold the broccoli with the head on your cutting board and the end of the stem up at an angle. You will be able to see the smaller individual stems that go to each floret. Cut each stem to give you florets.
Some of the florets may be large enough that you will want to make them smaller. Lay the floret on your cutting board and cut through the stems towards the florets. Try not to cut the top of the floret. Once you have cut the stems, you can pull apart the florets into smaller pieces that retain the appearance of a small tree.
The larger stalks often have a tough outer layer that can be removed with a vegetable peeler if the stalk is smooth enough. There are often enough leaf scars that you will need to use a knife. For large stalks, stand them on end on your cutting board and slice off the outer layer by cutting downward with a chef's knife. Turn the stem and cut each side until you have removed the tough peel from all sides. Discard the peel.
Then the stem can be chopped and used with the florets, though it may take longer to cook. You may want to start the stems in the pan or pot for a few minutes, then add the florets. If you add them all at the same time, the stems will retain more crunch than the florets.
Broccoli can be cleaned before or after it is cut into florets. Fill a large bowl with cold water and soak the broccoli for several minutes to let the water get into all the little irregular areas.
To remove pesticides, soak broccoli in a bowl of water with a teaspoon of baking soda for 20 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.
If you get broccoli from your garden or farmer's markets, it will sometimes have little green broccoli worms, which are harmless but unappetizing. To get rid of them, soak the broccoli in warm salted water for 20 minutes. The worms will fall out of the broccoli into the bottom of the sink or bowl. Remove the broccoli from the water with a slotted spoon and rinse it in a colander with cold water.
The stalks of broccoli often have thick skin. It won’t hurt to eat it, but it can be tough, chewy, and bitter. You can remove it with a vegetable peeler, but the surface is often irregular enough to make this difficult. In that case, after removing the florets, hold the broccoli stem vertically on your cutting board, and cut down with a chef’s knife to remove the tough outer layer. Turn and cut each side until all the skin is removed.
Not relevant for broccoli
Place the top of the broccoli head on a cutting board and hold the stem end up. Using a chef’s knife, cut each floret stem to remove the florets.
When they have all been removed, stand the stem vertically on the chopping board and cut down with your knife to remove the heavy peel from one side. Repeat, turning and cutting until all the peel has been removed.
Cut off and discard the dried end of the stalk. Then lay the stalk on the board, cut it lengthwise and then crosswise into the size you want. Place the florets in a shallow pile on your cutting board and cut down through the pile with your knife, rearranging the pile and cutting until it is chopped as finely as you would like.
You can also put rough chopped broccoli florets and stems into a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse until the desired chop is achieved.
Broccoli should be cooked until very soft before attempting to puree it. Once it's cooked, put it in a blender or the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and add a little water (you can use the water you used to blanch it), vegetable or chicken stock, or cream. Blend or process until the desired consistency is reached, adding more liquid if it's too thick.
Broccoli can be shredded with the shredding disk of a food processor.
Broccoli can be juiced with a juicer. You may want to remove the tough outer skin on the stalks first to prevent bitterness.
Broccoli are unripened seed heads, so they have not developed seeds.
When the heads are left to ripen and produce seeds, they should not be eaten as the seeds are poisonous.
When selecting broccoli, look for thick heads of compact, tiny bud clusters that are evenly dark green (or with purplish tint) in color; it should have a fresh aroma and a firm but tender stalk.
Keep unwashed from the garden or market, trimming only the large leaves. Store in a perforated plastic bag in the humid crisper section of the refrigerator, where it will keep 7 to 10 days.
Blanched broccoli may be refrigerated covered, but it quickly loses its texture; use as soon as possible.
Wash, trim, peel, and cut lengthwise into 3/4 inch thick pieces. Blanch for 3 minutes, and plunge into cold water for 3 minutes. Drain and pack into freezer bags. It will keep 8 to 12 months at 0°F (-17.8°C).
The more common varieties of broccoli are: Sprouting Broccoli (most common in U.S. stores), Purple Broccoli, Broccolini (cross between broccoli and kale), Broccoflower (cross between broccoli and cauliflower), Chinese Broccoli, Romanesco Broccoli, and Broccoli Sprouts.
One of the biggest hassles when cooking and working in the kitchen is when a recipe calls for "the juice of 1 lime" or a similar measurement. Often times when cooking people use bottled juices, pre-sliced vegetables and other convenient cooking time savers. Produce Converter will help you convert the "juice of 1 lime" and other similar recipe instructions into tablespoons, cups and other concrete measurements.
Produce Converter can also be used to figure out how many vegetables to buy when you need, for instance, "A cup of diced onion." You can use our easy conversion tool to figure out exactly how many onions you need to buy at the store in order to end up with the amount you need for your cooking.
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