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If you love green veggies, you’re probably familiar with the dark green florets of broccoli standing tall on its thick stems. But did you know that there are several varieties of broccoli? Read on to find out the types of broccoli you’re yet to discover.
Table of Contents
What is Broccoli?
Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family, and is a biennial, cold-weather crop. It requires cool weather to grow properly, though it will tolerate light frosts. Broccoli plants are hardy and barely have to battle pests or diseases. They aren’t a fan of hot weather either, so if you live in an area that tends to get very hot during the summertime, you may want to plant your broccoli early, so it will mature before the heat hits.
What Does Broccoli Taste Like?
The taste of broccoli relies on the way you prepare it. You can eat broccoli raw, but many prefer to cook it so that it’s tender and crunchy. If you’re using fresh broccoli, you should be able to tell by the firmness of its stalk. If its firm and rubbery, then its probably best to steam or boil your broccoli before eating.
Some describe the taste of broccoli as earthy, or bitter. But the flavour of raw broccoli is both. The reason for this is that there are two compounds in broccoli that give it an off-putting flavour: glucoraphanin and gluconasturtiin. Glucoraphanin tastes like cabbage – slightly bitter with a hint of sweetness – while gluconasturtiin may remind you of horseradish but not quite as spicy. You can actually taste these separate flavours when you chew a raw piece, with one side tasting more like cabbage, while another will be more peppery.
How Many Types of Broccoli are There?
As you probably know, there are three main types of broccoli: calabrese broccoli, broccolini and broccoflower. Each type has a different appearance and taste. Calabrese broccoli is the most commonly known one; it has thick stems or stalks that can be eaten when cooked. Broccolini is smaller than calabrese broccoli but has similar branches with delicate leaves hanging from them; these are also edible and delicious to eat in salads! Finally, broccoflower is usually bright orange/red in colour with white florets surrounding it like snowflakes falling from the sky (it looks quite pretty). All three types belong to the cabbage family which means they all have similar nutritional benefits so you don’t have to worry about missing out if you prefer one type over another!
The Most Common Type of Broccoli
Green broccoli is the most common type of broccoli, though there are many varieties. The most common colour is light green, but it can also be a dark green or bluish green. Some varieties have purple stems, while others can have white stems. It is full of nutrients, though it contains a bitter flavour that some may dislike. It is still great to add to stir-fries, or roast in the oven, to have alongside your delicious main.
Best Broccoli to Grow
Broccoli is an iconic vegetable crop that prefers the cool weather over the hot temperatures. You’ll find yourself planting one or more of the many different broccoli varieties in your garden during the spring and autumn months. Broccoli comes in a variety of types, with some producing a quick harvest within 2 months, and others taking more time to produce, harvesting in the midsummer. The most difficult part about growing broccoli, is choosing the most compatible type for where you’re living. Essentially, you could say that there are three types of broccoli: early season, mid season, and fast grower. Each have their own names, but once you understand their differences, you’ll find yourself eager to grow them all year!
Let’s take a look at the types of broccoli, and when you should think about planting them:
- Calabrese Broccoli
- Sprouting Broccoli
- Chinese Broccoli
- Broccoli Rabe
- Romanesco Broccoli
Normally, the broccoli you find stacked in your local grocery store is a common variety of Calabrese broccoli or typical broccoli. Calabrese broccoli is names after Calabria a region in southern Italy. Calabrese broccoli forms a large central head with tight florets or tiny flowers. These thick flowering stems give this type of broccoli is typical look – like tiny trees. Calabrese broccoli, is a sun loving crop, so choose a location in your garden that has 6 to 8 hours of sunlight, and should be planted between March to June. It takes 60 to 90 days to fully sprout and become ready for harvesting.
Sprouting broccoli, is a tall, leafy, stalky plant with individual florets instead of a central head. It’s slightly more bitter than typical broccoli, the leaves, florets and stalks are all edible. It is commonly planted during the autumn, needing 6 to 8 weeks of cold temperatures so that it can produce its pretty florets. The main types of sprouting broccoli are purple and white, the purple turning green when cooked. White sprouting broccoli has white florets and a sweeter taste than the purple variety, it is more commonly found and grown in Britain.
Much like its name implies, Chinese broccoli originated in China. It has very thick stems and large green leaves. Known for its bitter taste, it’s quite common to have it soaked in cold water before cooking. Chinese broccoli, has a relatively short growing time, between 35 to 50 days, making it a great vegetable for planting in spring or summer for autumn harvest or year-round in sensible climates.
While broccoli rabe may have similar features to broccoli, it is more closer in comparison to turnips. The green leaves are used in cooking much like turnip greens, as well as its slightly bitter leaves being a part of Italian cuisine. Broccoli rabe grows extremely fast, growing best in the colder weather.
Broccolini is a cross between typical broccoli and Chinese broccoli, and sometimes referred to as baby broccoli, but this is only in reference to its stems and florets. A perfect offspring of its parents, broccoli has long thin stalks with small broccoli-like florets atop. They are a frost-tolerant vegetable, meaning that they should be planted between mid-to early spring.
Romanesco broccoli is a stunning bright green broccoli that naturally resembles a fractal. Its texture is that of a cauliflower while its colour indicates that it is broccoli, which is why it is also reffered to as Roman cauliflower. Between its intensive beauty and mild flavours its a great piece of uniqueness to have growing in your back garden. Romanesco broccoli, is a cool-season plant that tends to wither away when exposed to high heat.
Other Types of Broccoli
If you thought those were the only type of broccoli available on this brilliant earth, then you couldn’t have been more wrong! This brilliant vegetable has so many varieties, that we couldn’t possibly forget the next brilliant batch we are about to mention. Bear in mind, that each type of broccoli, grows and prefers a different climate to its close relative. Some may prefer a little more heat than others, whilst the rest might prefer the chills of winter to help their roots wriggle in the wet soil. Here are the other types of broccoli:
- Blue Wind
- Eastern Magic
- Green Magic
- Waltham 29
- Sun king
Blue wind is a broccoli variety that takes 49 to 55 days to mature, and it does it well under cooler temperatures, with a full access to sunlight, so during the early spring months. Blue wind produces bluish green leaves closer to the top of the plant, that appear quite similar to kale. This type of broccoli is excellent for steaming or braising, as it packs a sweet, mild taste that is also tender, becoming more potent as you cook it.
DiCicco is a type of Italian heirloom, that grows best during the late autumn, or late winter. It produces small to medium heads that are blue-green in colour. They develop mature heads in as little as 50 days, with plenty of side shoots appearing as well.
For those who garden in colder regions, Eastern Magic might be the perfect choice for you. It handles growth during the spring and autumn well, sprouting into brilliant blue-green crowns with impeccable flavour. Despite its immense tolerance to the cold, this broccoli can handle heat very well, so you can extend your broccoli growth in the summer.
This type of broccoli prefers the hot temperatures, and develops smooth, domed medium-sized heads. The heads can vary between a blue or green colour with a unique buttery flavour.
Amadeus broccoli matures in less than 60 days, and develops heads with tight florets with smaller beads scattered in the florets. You’ll notice its unmistakable blue-green colour once it has fully matured. Amadeus, is the perfect choice of broccoli to plant during the early spring because it grows so quickly. Although it grows brilliantly during the summer and autumn seasons, its little side shoots are the best part, providing you with an extended harvest.
Arcadia does take longer to mature than other early growing broccoli. This is because it tends to thrive in cooler temperatures when soil moisture is greater. This is an excellent variety of cold tolerant broccoli that is large in size, with a rugged texture. It develops large, firm, dark green heads with a unique frosted appearance making it the centre of attention when compared to its other types.
Waltham 29 is tolerant to colder temperatures, producing blue-green heads with many side shoots. Their heads don’t stop growing, until you’ve plucked their thick stems from the ground, ready to chop up and fry over your stove.
Marathon broccoli grows well during the autumn and and winter seasons, making it an excellent choice of veggie to have alongside your winter roasts. This type of broccoli produces a high dome with small flowers, heavy with thousands of them.
Some Brilliant Broccoli Recipes
The variety of broccoli has quite fortunately created a broccoli sized hole in my stomach. All this talk about the brilliant varieties of broccoli, but what about the different kinds of recipes for broccoli? Let’s take a look at some of the fantastic, and delicious recipes to make with broccoli.
- Herby Broccoli
- Italian Broccoli
- Broccoli Soup
- Broccoli Salad
- Broccoli Pasta Shells
Create a decadent plate of broccoli, with just a few simple ingredients.
- Long stem broccoli
- Small bunch of mint leaves
- Basil pesto
- Toasted pine nuts
Steam the broccoli for 5 to 8 minutes until tender. Stir the mint leaves into the pesto. Then place the broccoli onto a serving plate, drizzle some minted pesto and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.
A creamy pasta bake, is a refreshing way to appreciate broccoli, especially if you aren’t a fan of its potent flavours on its own, why not share the robust flavours amongst a creamy base?
You’ll need to cut your broccoli into large florets, boil a large pan of pasta, tipping the broccoli in to the pan once its done, so that it can boil a little more with its companion.
A smooth, velvet-like blend of vegetable soup with blue cheese that makes for a deliciously comforting meal. Serve this with your favourite bread, for the perfect vegetable soup to soak through the soft grains absorbing the decadent flavours of the broccoli soup, that’ll surely have you coming back for more in no time.
Enjoy this crunchy vegan broccoli salad, for lunch or as a crispy side. It’s sweet, sharp and full of vibrant colours, perfect to lighten up your meal with different textures and flavours.
Broccoli Pasta Shells
A healthier twist to everyone’s favourite meal. With chopped florets of broccoli, promising a healthy finish to the day, what’s not to like about this green tinged pasta?
Types of Broccoli
It may be surprising to know that there are so many varieties to this little vegetable that sits so comfortably on the supermarket shelves. So many colours, and textures that have yet to be explored.
How Many Types of Broccoli are there?
There are three commonly grown types of broccoli.
What are the Three Types of Broccoli?
Calabrese broccoli, destiny broccoli, and belstar broccoli these are the different types of broccoli.
What is the Fancy Broccoli Called?
Romanesco, also known as broccoflower or roman cauliflower.
Is Broccoli the Same as Rapini?
Broccoli rabe, or rapini is actually more closely related to the turnip, its a bitter green similar to a mustard green with thin stalks.