Broccoli: benefits and properties of this vegetable variety
Much like rocket and cabbage, broccoli belongs to the “cruciferous” family and the most common variety is the green one. However, varieties that are all shades of purple exist too - from reddish to bluette - based on the quantity of anthocyanins present in them: amongst these Violetto di Sicilia cauliflower is recognised as an agri-food excellence.
The part of broccoli that is used in the kitchen is not the leaves, but only the inflorescence not yet matured: even the stem can be used to prepare great pesto and condiments.
Broccoli are particularly indicated for those who want to follow a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle, as they are rich in beneficial properties.
Broccoli: beneficial properties and nutritional values
Broccoli are particularly liked, not only for their unmistakable and pleasant taste, but also for their multiple curative and nutritional properties. Moreover, broccoli is a food with a low caloric content and for this it is considered a fundamental ingredient in weight loss or low calories diets. To not change its flavor and not lose its nutritional properties, the broccoli inflorescences are usually steamed.
Rich of mineral salts, vitamin C and B and fibers, this vegetable has long been recognised as a food with antioxidants and anti-carcinogenic properties: its intake helps to prevent ulcers, gastritis and degenerative diseases and is particularly indicated for those familiar with tumor of the thyroid, intestine and breast. It is advised to ingest portions of broccoli to those affected by anemia; being a rich source of fiber, it is also suggested to eat it in case of constipation, difficulty of duresis or necessity of purification and detoxification. Its nutritional values also help to heighten immune defenses and, consequently, prevent seasonal syndromes.
Recent studies have shown that the intake of broccoli helps fight ictus, infections and lung tumors and respiratory diseases such as asthma.
Broccoli: how to grow them
If we don’t have a garden, it is advised to buy broccoli preferably during the winter season: in this period, in fact, not only do they cost less as their availability on the market is abundant, but they have a more intense and tasty flavor and their nutritional inputs are more significant.
Those who have a vegetable garden will know that the cultivation of broccoli is simple enough that it does not require particular expertise.
The soil in which we intend to plant broccoli must be dug with grooves of about half a meter and fertilized with manure or other natural fertilizers; subsequently the land must be irrigated regularly and uniformly. The sowing is done towards the end of spring season. The seeds must be distanced from each other and regularly irrigated. After about a month from the sowing, the first seedlings will start to sprout. When the seedlings will reach a height of 15 cm they must be transplanted in holes arranged in rows at a distance of one meter from each other: the seedlings too must be at least 50cm from each other, to allow them a regular growth.
While keeping the soil compact and irrigated, we will have to wait from two to four months to carry out the harvesting: the ripening time depends on the variety of the broccoli that we choose to plant.
It is suggested to harvest the broccoli by making inclined and decisive cuts to avoid stagnation of water in the stem.
Once harvested, broccoli must be kept in the fridge for no more than five days or they have to be frozen and defrosted only when they are going to be used. Broccoli can be cooked in water and vinegar and consequently preserved in oil in a cold room.
Curiosities and anecdotes
Broccoli have been used in the kitchen since ancient times. From Syrian-Greek origin, this vegetable was particularly loved by Romans who attributed it to its digestive properties; because of this, they used to eat it raw before starting their regular meals.
Broccoli is a vegetable rich in sulfur: during its cooking this mineral is rejected by giving off an acrid and persistent color. Squeezing lemon juice on broccoli or preferring it to be steamed are two ways in which the emanation of bad smell is limited.
The inflorescences of broccoli are edible when they have not yet reached their first ripeness.