Rosey the Riveter

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Preserving Broccoli

One of the first things I planted once we moved in was broccoli.  Fall planting is new to me, so I was excited to try it out, and having never grown broccoli before, the whole process was exciting. 

I didn't really know when it was ready to pick, so I probably waited a few days too long, but the first thing I did was to soak it in salt water.  This is (SUPPOSEDLY) supposed to kill any of the cabbage worms that love any plants in the cole family.

Then, I chopped it up into bite-size pieces.

Place into boiling water and blanch for three minutes.

Immediately remove from heat and put it in an ice-water bath to stop the cooking process.

Drain (and dry) thoroughly.  After the colander, I set mine on the counter on a clean dish cloth to dry more.  The less liquid that is on it, the better it will freeze.  It is interesting to note that it was while dumping the broccoli into the colander that I found not one, but TWO little worms.  I did not tell the family, as that would have grossed them out.  Lesson learned:  don't rely on soaking!

Store in freezer-proof containers.  I used Ziploc freezer bags but next time I may try the vacuum sealer just to compare.

I only planted 8 heads.  In the spring, I think I'll bump it up to at least a dozen.  Once you harvest the main head, small shoots will start growing which will provide even more.  But there's no way 8 plants will be enough to last us through the winter, which is my ultimate goal ('winter' here being a relative term.  I'll be harvesting the broccoli probably until Thanksgiving, and the spring crop will be ready in April, so really I need only a 4-5 month supply from both the spring and fall harvests).  Still, ideally that means about 16 plants, and I'm not sure I have the room for them.

These plants were the Packman variety, purchased as plants at a big-box store.  Next time, I think I'm going to try growing organic Thompson from seed.  It's slower growing (70 days vs. 55) but it has a long harvest period so I think it'll all come out in the wash.

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