How to Harvest & Eat Your Broccoli Leaves RecipeJune 17, 2014
Yep, broccoli leaves are as edible as the leaves of their nutrient-packed cousin kale!
When the central head of a broccoli crown is still tightly in bud and tucked several inches below the tops of the highest leaves, it’s time to take your first harvest. If you wait longer and the crown flowers begin to open, your harvest may be tougher and less flavorful, so don’t keep waiting to see what else might happen.
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How to Harvest the Central Crown:
Using a sharp knife, slice out that central flower head (or crown), and leave the rest of the plant in place. Smaller broccoli florets will likely form along the intact stalk, arising from buds at the base of the remaining leaves. In fact, you may see some of them already starting to form when you cut out the big, central crown.
How to Harvest axillary (side) florets:
The side florets on broccoli can form rapidly, so check your plants frequently, and trim out the side florets when they are no more than about 4-5″ long. These aren’t likely to get big like the central crown, so the idea is to harvest many of them while they are small.
Like the central crown, the axillary florets will get tough and unpalatable if you let them grow long and open their flowers.
How to Harvest broccoli leaves:
When you harvest your big, central broccoli crown, you’ll probably end up cutting out a few leaves as well. Don’t toss them into the compost pile. Instead, remove the mid-rib and add them to your broccoli dish. Once the central crown is removed from the plant, you can begin trimming out a few leaves from the plant on a regular basis. As you would with Kale, remove the lower leaves on the plant first, and only take a few from each plant at a time — especially if you are encouraging the plant to grow more axillary florets. They’ll need those leaves to photosynthesize, which is how they feed themselves.
Once you have harvested all the side florets from your broccoli plant (at a certain point the plant will either run out of side buds for production or just wear out from having everything taken from it), go ahead and trim out the rest of the leaves as well as the central stalk, much of which is truly delicious as well — just chop off the toughest portions and peel off the exterior layer to reveal the crunchy sweetness of the central stem.
Want more info on growing broccoli? Read on!
How to Use broccoli leaves in the kitchen
**Now with two recipes**:
There are so many ways you can eat your broccoli leaves. Remove the mid-rib, tear or chop the supple leaves, and mix them into a saute. Toss them in hearty salads where you might otherwise rely on kale. Or, blend them into a smoothie for a nutrient-rich, not-t00-sweet smoothie.
You’ll need a high powered blender to fully macerate all the whole food ingredients in this tasty smoothie. Depending on how much you thin the final blend, this should make a one-pint-glass serving. Check out how many servings of fruits and vegetables you get!
3 Large broccoli leaves, mid-rib removed
1 Peach, pitted
4-6 Strawberries, hulled
3-4 ice cubes
1/2 cup water (or more ice cubes if you like a really frosty smoothie)
1 T. hemp seeds
1 T. coconut butter or whole fat coconut milk
1/4 lime, peeled
1″ chunk peeled, fresh ginger
Add ingredients to high powered blender. Start on low speed and work up to high speed, mashing things down as needed. Let run about 1-2 minutes to fully liquify everything. (If your mixture is thicker than you prefer, add a bit more water or coconut milk to thin.)
This year we had several crops of broccoli, with loads of delicious stems & heads. But, we also had loads of leaves. Some went to the chickens; they love broccoli. Much went to making tasty broccoli leaf chips. Much like ever-popular kale chips, these are super easy to make from the gleanings of your broccoli crop!
Dried Broccoli leaf chips
Large broccoli leaves, mid-rib removed
granulated or powdered garlic
Tear broccoli leaves into chip sized pieces. Toss with a splash of olive oil, a sprinkling of salt & a generous sprinkling of granulated or powdered garlic.
Spread seasoned leaves in single layers on dehydrator trays.
Place into a dehydrator (on lowest setting if that’s an option) for about an hour. Check. Extend time as needed until chips are fully dried and crispy.
Serve immediately or place into a vacuum seal canister where they can be stored for later.
]Want more recipes & growing info? Growing, Cooking & Eating Broccoli with Recipe!