Store At: Cool Temperature
Comes From: Temperate
Seasonality: Spring to Early Summer
Even the most ardent fan of cabbages and root vegetables tires of them eventually - and after several dark months of little choice, in March the purple sprouting broccoli is almost cause for celebration. It's very tough and hardy, and is therefore able to withstand the winter without trauma, and be ready and good to go in late February and March.
Because there are different types of broccoli and so many varieties, it's almost possible to eat broccoli in season all year round, from purple sprouting, to calabrese in the summer, and romanesco in late summer and autumn.
Purple sprouting broccoli is almost on a similar culinary and gourmet level to asparagus, with such a delicate flavor and texture and short season, but with a few differences; first of all, it is much easier to grow, and less preparation - you can even eat them raw off the plant. When cooking, it's best not to cook them for too long - brief steaming or blanching is the best way, because overcooking will quickly turn them soggy and sulphurous.
Broccoli heads are green instead of white (like cauliflowers). The heads, or florets, are made up of tightly packed flower buds, grouped together like trees on a stalk. They are members of the brassica or cabbage family, which also includes sprouts, cauliflowers, cabbages, and related varieties.
The heads of purple sprouting broccoli are much less densely packed than regular broccoli. Because of their purple colour, they contain antioxidants, commonly known as anti-cancer causing agents.