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Broccolli

Broccoli is one of the younger members of the cabbage family of vegetables. The word broccoli is Italian and means the flowering top of a cabbage.

Broccoli florets are the immature buds of a broccoli plant's flower. Floret means "little flower." Many people regard the floret as the best part of the plant, though people do also eat the plant's branches and stalks.

Have you tried brocolli? Do you like it? Many young people don't. They think it tastes icky and gross. Broccoli does belong to a group of vegetables that people often do not like at all when they are young. But guess what? They also come to enjoy it a great deal as they get older. Cauliflower — which we're also growing in this garden — also belongs to this group, as do brussels sprouts, which we are not growing here.

Origins

In the longer timeframe of agricultural history, broccoli is a johnny come lately in its vegetable family. It got its start only 2,000 years ago in Italy, where it was developed by the Romans as a new variety within the cabbage family.

In the United States, broccoli was hardly known until the early 1900's. It came here with the millions of Italians who immigrated to the US in the late 1800's.

How it's eaten

Broccoli is eaten today both raw and cooked. Raw, it tastes crunchy and sometimes a little tickly in your mouth, because of its florets. Cooked, it takes on a heavier, more mellow taste.

Because it contains a little sulfur, brocolli can sometimes be a bit stinky when it's cooked. Steaming it tends to bring out less of the sulfur smell than if you boil it in water.

Finally, within the cabbage family, broccoli and cauliflower are very close relatives. People have crossbred the two and come up with something called broccoflower, a lime-green colored cauliflower that mixes the flavors of the two plants.