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Updated: Jan 11

Are you planting broccoli this year in your garden?

Do you have a plan for your harvest?


Then you are in the right spot!

Today in this blog post I am going to share with you the 5 steps I follow to plan beyond the harvest with broccoli! Don’t worry it is very easy but beware it might make you a little hungry looking at all of the scrumptious recipes.

Planning Beyond the Harvest with Broccoli

One of our greatest mistakes as gardeners is not to plan for the harvest. You know how many broccoli plants you are going to plant and you might know your estimated date to when you will need to harvest. But do you know exactly what you are going to do with all of that broccoli? Eat It? Freeze It? Cook It? Or do you know exactly when to pick that broccoli at its peak?

The Five Steps to Planning Beyond the Harvest

  1. Learn to pick your harvest at its peak

  2. How to harvest your produce

  3. Research ways to Preserve your harvest

  4. Find Recipes to get your harvest from your garden to your table

  5. Add Recipes to Your Meal Planner

To learn more about why each of these steps in my 5 step process of Planning Beyond the Harvest be sure to check out this post.

Let’s get to it!

Benefits of Growing Broccoli

Broccoli has always been looked at as a very important part of healthy eating. I know I was always told it was good for me. But what I have found out about the benefits of eating broccoli makes that a complete understatement. Yes, broccoli is good for you but it could be said that broccoli is a nutrition wonder, a superfood!

And on top of that broccoli is part of the brassica family and is very easy to grow. It is best started in late winter indoors and grown until mid-spring when it can be transplanted into your garden as the cool weather gives it a sweeter taste. Broccoli loves rich soil.

How Broccoli Helps Your Whole Body

  1. Very High in Vitamin C and can help you battle the common cold

  2. High amounts of potassium help maintain a healthy nervous system and brain function

  3. Contains magnesium and calcium which can help lower blood pressure

  4. The calcium and vitamin K can also help promote bone growth and prevent osteoporosis

  5. It is also helpful in repairing skin damage because of its glucoraphanin that helps skin detoxify and repair.

  6. Boosts your immune system with its large amount of beta-carotene.

  7. High in fiber to help regulate blood sugars and can give a feeling of being full because of its high protein count compared to its calorie count

  8. The folate in broccoli can help reduce heart disease and heart attacks

  9. Helps improve your eyesight

  10. Can prevent cancer

Broccoli Harvest

When Do I Harvest My Broccoli

Knowing when to harvest broccoli can be a bit tricky. But here are a few guidelines you can follow so you harvest your broccoli at the perfect time.

First look to see if the head of the broccoli has formed and is it still firm and tight. Next measure the head. The head should measure between 4 to 7 inches, but don’t go on size alone. Size can be an indicator but you should also look at the size of the individual florets. When they get to the size of a match head then your broccoli is ready to harvest! You will also need to watch the color of the florets you want to harvest when they are a deep green but if you see them turning yellow before any of the above guidelines then harvest right away, as this is a sign that the broccoli is about to bolt. And you want to harvest before your broccoli does this.

Another part of knowing when you should harvest is knowing your estimated harvest dates. You can easily find the days to harvest days on the back of your seed packet and add that number to the date that your broccoli germinated to get the estimated harvest date.

For example, if I start my broccoli on March 20th, 2021 I should be watching for signs of harvest around 100 days later on June 28th, 2021.

How To Harvest My Broccoli

To harvest your broccoli you will need a bowl or basket and a sharp knife. You are going to use a sharp knife to cut the broccoli head off of the plant. You will want to cut at about 5 inches or so below the head and cut with a smooth stroke. Try to avoid sawing too much as this can cause damage to the stem and prevent side shoots from maturing.

Broccoli will develop side shoots that may be smaller than the main head but are still delicious and packed full of benefits. These will grow like tiny heads to the side of where the main head was. By looking at the size of the florets, you can tell when these side shoots are ready for harvest. Simply cut them off as they become ready.

I also enjoy harvesting the leaves when the plant is done producing heads. I used to just feed them to my chickens but I have found them to taste somewhat like collard greens and are a great way to bring the whole plant to our table.

Storing Broccoli

How To Preserve Your Broccoli

Broccoli can be preserved and eaten in quite a few different ways. I will show them all below along with a few favorite recipes we like to use here at Red Ridge Farm.

I do have a disclaimer when it comes to preserving food. You should follow your canning books guidelines to the letter as these methods have been used for hundreds of years and they know what they are doing. I in fact will be sharing the instructions I follow out of my Ball Canning Book. And I suggest you do the same or find another reputable source.

How to Store and Cook Fresh Broccoli

Properly stored broccoli will last between 2 to 5 days as a head but broccoli that has been cut up may only last a day. You may think that broccoli would do best in a plastic bag but that is the farthest from the truth. Here are two proper ways to store fresh broccoli in your fridge:

  • Paper Towel Method- wrap your broccoli heads in a damp paper towel. This provides a moist but not too moist environment. Do avoid washing your broccoli until you intend to use it. Because too much moisture locked in among the florets will cause mold to grow.

  • Bouquet Method- this is where you treat your broccoli like a fresh bouquet of flowers. Place the stem ends of the broccoli heads in a cup or bowl of water until the tips are fully submerged. Be sure to change the water daily.

  • Before cooking you will need to wash broccoli very thoroughly. To help remove any insects it is best to soak broccoli heads in a saltwater brine for 30 minutes. The brine should have a ratio of 1 cup of salt to a gallon of water. Drain and rinse with water to finish the job.

Garlic Roasted Broccoli

This recipe is a quick way to get broccoli on your dinner table and it is delicious to boot!

2 heads of broccoli

2 tsp olive oil

1 tsp sea salt

½ tsp black pepper

3 cloves of garlic, minced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut up the broccoli heads into bite-size florets and place them in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic. Toss together. Spread coated broccoli onto a baking dish in an even layer.

Place the baking dish with broccoli into the 400-degree oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until broccoli is fork-tender. To give this dish a little zest you could squeeze half a lemon or orange and drizzle over broccoli just before serving!

How To Store and Cook Frozen Broccoli

Now if you would like to store broccoli for a little longer, there are two ways. The first being freezing. To freeze Broccoli you must:

  • Select tender firm broccoli stalks with firm heads that are washed and any woody portions removed.

  • Wash by using the method above and cut into manageable sizes. Think about how will plan to use this broccoli in your favorite recipes and cut accordingly.

  • Blanch medium portions for 3 minutes and large portions for 4 minutes.

  • Drain and let Cool

  • Pack into freezer jars or plastic bags. Be sure to remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn.

  • Label and freeze

  • They will last if sealed correctly up to 12 months in your freezer

Cheesy Broccoli Casserole

This recipe can be used as a vegetarian main course or can be a great side dish for a large family gathering!

4 cups of frozen broccoli, thawed and drained

1 package of cream cheese, room temp and cubed

¼ cup sour cream

1 ½ cup shredded Cheddar Cheese

1 tsp dried minced garlic

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp parsley

½ tsp oregano flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease with butter a 3-quart baking dish lay thawed broccoli in a dish in an even layer and set the baking dish aside for later. Mix the cream cheese, sour cream, cheese, and seasonings in a mixing bowl with a whisk until well combined. Add mixture to your broccoli in the baking dish and mix. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes until broccoli is tender and the top is golden brown. Remove and let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

How To Preserve and Cook Canned Broccoli

The second long-term storage for broccoli is pressure canning. I want to say again it is important to follow your canning books instructions because they know what they are talking about. The below instructions are from my Ball Blue Book! To pressure can broccoli you must:

  • Remove any large stems or leaves. Wash as instructed above in a brine. Rinse thoroughly

  • Cut into pieces that will fit in your jar and blanch for 4 minutes

  • Pack into your clean jars and top with 1 teaspoon salt for quart jars and ½ tsp salt for pint jars

  • Fill the jar with blanching water to within ½ inch of the top of the jar

  • Seal with the lid and band

  • Process in a pressure canner: Quarts 40 minutes and Pints 25 in 10 lbs of pressure or follow the instruction that came with your pressure canner.

Cast Iron Creamy Bacon Broccoli

This recipe is great as a side dish or a keto meal. There is nothing like broccoli cooked in a creamy garlic sauce topped with homemade cheese and bacon! If you can’t find the cheese in this recipe you can easily replace it with parmesan or manchego cheese. But my favorite cheese to use in this recipe is a cheese that one of our local producers makes with her fresh sheep's milk. I would say it tastes like bacon cheese!

½ cup raw bacon, diced

1 Tbsp butter

3 clove garlic, minced

2 pints or 1 quart canned broccoli, drained

1 cup heavy cream

¾ cup shredded Smochego

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a medium cast-iron skillet, over medium heat cook the bacon until slightly crispy. When done remove from the skillet and set aside. Add the butter, garlic, and broccoli to the hot pan and browns slightly. Add the heavy cream, cheese, and bacon and place the whole skillet in the oven, and bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Now the last step is to add these recipes and more like them to your menu plan. I got you started, have fun planning!

Have a blessed day,


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