photo of broccoli in the field

What is it?

Broccoli is a brassica, part of the cabbage family, as is it’s close relative the cauliflower.

There are three types of broccoli:


This is the one with the thick stem and big clustery heads (pictured above). Calabrese is named after the Italian region it originates from, Calabria. It’s the most commonly used broccoli in Britain.

Calabrese broccoli is available all year round in the UK but best between the end of July and the end of October.


This broccoli has thinner stems and a few sprouting heads on each stalk.

Sprouting broccoli is best between January and May.


This relative newcomer has a thin main stem with one head on the top.

What to do with it

Choose firm, bright green undamaged heads. Avoid any plants with signs of yellowing – they’re past their best. Cook it soon after purchase as it doesn’t last long, maybe three days, even in the fridge. If you must store it, keep it wrapped as it deteriorates more quickly when in contact with the air.

Wash and cut the calabrese broccoli into florets first. Broccoli can be boiled, steamed or stir-fried. It doesn’t need long cooking. For example, depending on the size of floret, it can be boiled or steamed in about three minutes.

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