Using & Storing Broccoli

South Carolina-grown broccoli is available in the spring and the fall.

Broccoli is Good for You

Broccoli is:

  • an excellent source of vitamin C.
  • a good source of vitamin A.
  • low in calories.
  • a good source of dietary fiber.

How to Buy Broccoli

Look for firm, compact clusters of small flower buds (flowerets). Flowerets should be dark green and may have a purplish cast.

Avoid thick, tough stems. If the flowerets are enlarged, opened, yellowish-green or wilted, then the broccoli is not fresh. Never buy broccoli that is soft or slippery. This is a sign of spoiling.

One Pound Fresh Broccoli Equals:

  • 4 to 5 servings.
  • about 6 cups raw, trimmed pieces.
  • about 3 cups cooked.

How to Store Broccoli

Refrigerate fresh broccoli in a plastic bag right after purchase. Use broccoli within 3 days of purchase, since the vitamin content will decrease the longer it is stored.

How to Use Broccoli

To Retain Vitamins:

  • Wash, don’t soak, broccoli in cool running water just before preparing.
  • Make fresh salads just before you’re ready to eat them. Fruits and vegetables that are cut up and stored lose some vitamins.
  • Use the least amount of water and the shortest cooking time.
  • Save the cooking water to make soup.

To Prepare:

  • Remove insects from broccoli heads by immersing in brine (4 teaspoons salt to a gallon of water) for 30 minutes.
  • Trim off just the end of each stalk. The entire remaining stalk is edible and nutritious. To ensure even cooking, some cooks like to peel the outer layer off the end of the stalk. Or, another method is to cut lengthwise up the stalk, almost to the floweret.
  • Broccoli can be blanched or boiled in a small amount of water, microwaved, steamed or stir-fried.
  • Do no overcook. Broccoli will retain its bright green color, crisp tenderness and sweetness if you cook it just until a fork can pierce the stalk.

To Serve:

  • Lightly brush cooked broccoli with margarine, butter, salad dressing or lemon juice. It is also delicious plain!
  • Include raw or 2-minute blanched broccoli in a raw veggie tray. You may wish to serve the flowerets and stalks as separate items. Cut the peeled stalks into sticks, as you would carrot sticks. Ranch-style dressing makes an easy dip.
  • Add chopped, cooked broccoli to scrambled eggs and omelets.
  • Add chopped, fresh broccoli to salads, stir fry dishes, soups, quiches and casseroles.

How to Prepare Broccoli

To Blanch or Boil: Bring about an inch of water to a rapid boil. Add the washed and trimmed broccoli. Quickly bring to a second boil and cook, uncovered, 3 to 5 minutes.

To Steam: Wash and trim broccoli. Cut into pieces that fit your steaming basket. Bring an inch of water to a boil. Fill the steamer basket with broccoli, arranging larger pieces on the bottom. Set over water; cover and steam until tender, 8 to 15 minutes depending on how firm or soft you like it.

To Microwave: Place a pound of washed, trimmed broccoli in a covered dish with ¼ cup water. Cook at highest power 5 to 10 minutes, rotating halfway through cooking. Let stand for 5 minutes.

To Stir-Fry: Wash and trim broccoli. Cut off flowerets and save in a bowl. Peel stalks and cut into 1- to 2-inch strips, or angle-cut. Heat 1 tsp. of oil for each cup of broccoli. Stir-fry stalks for 1 minute in hot oil, and then add flowerets. Stir-fry another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat. If you prefer softer broccoli, cover and let set for a few minutes.

Broccoli Recipes

Broccoli & Carrot Stir-Fry:
1 tsp. oil
¼ tsp. garlic powder (or 1 tsp. fresh)
¼ tsp. ground ginger (or 1 tsp. fresh)
2 cups broccoli cut into 1″ pieces
3 medium carrots, sliced thin
½ cup sliced onion
1 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. soy sauce (preferably low sodium)

Directions: In a wok or large skillet, heat the oil briefly. If using fresh garlic and/or ginger, add these ingredients and stir-fry for 15 seconds. Add the broccoli, carrots, and onions, tossing the vegetables to mix them well. Add the water, cover and cook for 3 minutes over medium heat. Remove the cover and turn the heat to high. Cook the vegetables, stirring them 5 minutes longer or until the vegetables are tender-crisp. If using garlic powder and/or ground ginger, add now and mix in the soy sauce. Remove the pan from the heat and serve. Serves 4.

Calories: 52 per serving
Fat: 4 grams per serving

Broccoli Supper Casserole:
2 cups cooked rice
2 cups fresh broccoli, chopped
2 cups cooked, diced turkey or chicken (no skin), or drained canned tuna
1 cup undiluted cream soup (or white sauce)
⅓ cup grated cheese

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 °F. Cover the bottom of a large flat casserole with cooked broccoli. Arrange turkey, chicken, or tuna on top and cover with cheese sauce, white sauce, or cream soup. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake 20 to 30 minutes. Let stand about 5 minutes before serving. Serve over rice. Makes 4 servings.

Calories: 310 per serving
Fat: 11 grams per serving

Originally published 09/05

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at or 1-888-656-9988.

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