Choose broccoli with floret clusters that are compact, not bruised. Floret clusters should be uniformly colored, either dark green, sage or purple-green, depending upon variety, and with no yellowing. Yellow flowers in the floret clusters is a sign of over maturity. The stalk and stems should be firm with no slimy spots appearing either there or on the florets. If leaves are attached, they should be vibrant in color and not wilted.
Broccoli is very perishable and should be stored in an open plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper where it will keep about a week. Water on the florets will encourage degradation, so don't wash broccoli before refrigerating. Broccoli that has been blanched and then frozen keeps up to a year. Leftover cooked broccoli should be placed in tightly covered container and stored in the refrigerator where it will keep for a few days.
Both cooked and raw broccoli make excellent additions to meals. Some of the health-supporting compounds in broccoli can be increased by slicing or chewing. Both slicing and chewing help activate enzymes in broccoli. The heating of unsliced broccoli is fine, since bacteria in the intestine have enzymes that produce health-supportive compounds.
When cooking broccoli, the stems and florets should be prepared differently. Fibrous stems take longer to cook and should be prepared separately a few minutes before the florets. Making lengthwise slits in the stems provides quicker cooking. The leaves are perfectly edible, delicious, and contain concentrated amounts of nutrients.
Broccoli is a plant of the Cabbage family. Broccoli possesses abundant fleshy flower heads, usually green in color, arranged in a tree-like fashion on branches sprouting from a thick, edible stalk. The large mass of flower heads is surrounded by leaves. Broccoli most closely resembles cauliflower, which is a different group of the same species, but broccoli is green rather than white.