Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family, and is closely related to cauliflower. Its cultivation originated in Italy. Broccolo, its Italian name, means "cabbage sprout." Because of its different components, broccoli provides a range of tastes and textures, from soft and flowery (the floret) to fibrous and crunchy (the stem and stalk). Broccoli was an Italian vegetable long before it was eaten elsewhere. It was first mentioned in France in 1560, but was unfamiliar in England for almost 200 years after that. Commercial cultivation of broccoli in the United States can be traced to the D'Arrigo brothers, Stephano and Andrea, immigrants from Messina, Italy, whose company made some tentative plantings in San Jose, California in 1922. A few crates were initially shipped to Boston, where there was a thriving Italian immigrant culture in the North End.
Storing & Cooking Information
Handling: Strip the stalk of leaves, if any. Remove any part of the bottom of the stalk that has dried out. Peel the tough outer skin of the broccoli stalk as best you can. If you like, cut the stalk into equal-length pieces and break the head into florets.
Storing: Broccoli will last 3-5 days stored in plastic bag in hydrator drawer of fridge.
Freezing: Peal coarse stalks and trim off leaves and blemishes; split if necessary. Salt and soak for ½ hour to drive out bugs and wash well. (Use 1 tablespoon salt for each quart of cold water). Sort for uniform spears or cut up. Blanch in steam for 5 minutes for stalks. Blanch in boiling water 3 minutes for stalks. Reduce time for cut up or chopped. Cool immediately and drain. Leave no headroom for spears or large chunks. Arrange stalks so blossom ends are divided between either end of the container. Leave ½ inch headroom for cut up or chopped pieces, as they have less air space.