How To Boil Broccoli: Barbara’s Simple Kitchen Hacks
Learn how to boil broccoli to preserve its beautiful green color, crunchy texture, and nutrient values.
Do you wonder how to boil broccoli? You're at the right place. Let me tell you a story:
The other day, while I was in the kitchen preparing lunch for my family, my boys asked me what I was cooking today. Apparently, salmon with broccoli was not the right answer - because I could literally hear them rolling their eyes. I laughed because I could imagine their faces, but I quite understood their reaction.
Trying to cook healthy meals for your family can be very challenging, but it seems that making your kids love broccoli is impossible. When I was their age, I wasn't a broccoli fan either, but I changed my mind when I discovered that broccoli is very beneficial for me.
Broccoli is an excellent source of folic acid and vitamins C and K, provides potassium and can do so much more for your health. Like any other vegetable, eating broccoli raw is the best way to use its benefits, but we can agree that bitterness of broccoli can be a turn-off.
I will share my proven methods to eliminate that bitterness with you! Knowing how to boil broccoli is the first step in preparing your broccoli both tasty and nutrient-rich.
How to boil broccoli – properly!
1. How to clean and cut broccoli: Minimum waste, maximum taste!
When you are young, you want everything to be fast and right now. Learning to be patient is essential in cooking, besides that cold and hot pot looks the same.
I was not an exception, but now I understand that a good meals take time. Cooking starts long before you enter the kitchen - it begins with choosing your groceries.
So take time when buying broccoli, pick one without yellow or brown areas. Florets should be firm and in a tight bunch - the best way to check this is by touching its crown.
If it is possible, don't buy it too early, broccoli will lose its nutritional properties after three days. To avoid broccoli from going bad quickly, don't remove the stem or clean it before storing it.
The safest way to clean broccoli is with vinegar. Fill a clean spray bottle with three-part water and one part white vinegar and spray it generously. You can also soak it in vinegar water if you don't have a spray bottle. Leave broccoli soaked/sprayed minute or two then rinse it with cold tap water.
Cut the stalk away from florets, about two inches below the crown. Break crown into the big florets.
2. Boiling broccoli fully - ideal for pottage
If you want to make broccoli pottage or you like broccoli well done, this method is ideal. Bring a pot of water with a sprinkle of salt to boil. Water should completely submerge broccoli.
Water in the pot should reach a rolling point before you start. Gently lower the florets in boiling water, by using a slotted spoon. If you want to cook stalks too, put them in boiling water before florets because it takes more time for them to be ready. Boil the stalks about two minutes before you add the florets, and then cook them together for four to five minutes more.
Be careful, don't overcook broccoli or it will lose its texture and taste. To test if broccoli is done use the tip of your knife; the broccoli should be tender enough so the tip would slide easily through broccoli.
Remove the broccoli from the water with the colander and set it on a sheet of baking paper to cool down on room temperature. If you overcooked broccoli, put it in the fridge to speed up the process of cooling. It takes approximately 15-20 minutes, but check it out from time to time; it should stay in the refrigerator until its completely cold.
If you are making broccoli pottage don't drain all water, you'll need it for desired density. The amount of water you’ll remove depends on how dense you want your pottage to be.
3. Blanching the broccoli - When you want it crispy!
This method is excellent when you want your broccoli to be as raw as possible but without bitterness. Blanching is the process of partially cooking, usually used for green vegetables and fruits. It means you soak vegetables or fruit in boiling water for a brief time and then quickly submerge it in icy water. By blanching vegetables and fruits, you preserve their color, vitamins, and texture!
Use a large pot of water over high heat and be sure that water is boiling before you start. You can add a pinch of salt, but it may affect the texture of the broccoli. Sodium from salt will cause the broccoli to be mushier.
Prepare a large bowl filled with ice and cold water. If you don’t have ice, a clean sink and running cold water will do the trick. Skipping this step will affect the color and the texture of your broccoli.
Lower the broccoli into the boiling water, gently with a slotted spoon and cook it about three minutes. And in this method, you can test with a knife. If it clings onto the blade - it's not done.
Take the broccoli out of the water using tongs or a slotted spoon and put it in a cold bath you prepared immediately. This way you will "shock" broccoli - cook it moderately and cool it rapidly so it will be crunchy.
Let the broccoli sit in a cold bath for at least five minutes. Do not remove it before it's entirely cold or it will keep cooking from inside out.
Barbara’s additional tips: What to do with broccoli stalks
- I know very few recipes that include broccoli stalks; usually, it is all about that beautiful green crown. Florets are, without a doubt, the most delicious part of broccoli but stalks can be flavorful too. With some tricks, you won't need to waste a bit of that nutritious vegetable.
- The easiest way is to store them with other odds and ends of food, in the freezer, to make vegetable stock. It can be quite helpful when you are cooking vegan or vegetarian meals, or want a fat-free base for your meals.
- If you are a grill lover, just like me, you can cut it into chunks and grill it with other vegetables or meat. Be sure to clean it before use.
- Broccoli stalks are ideal if you have a baby and make baby food yourself. Add them to your common ingredients and grind it to make a creamy paste. You can use it raw, but I recommend you boil it first, for safety. Boiling stalks will kill up to 90 percent of bacteria.
Important tip: When you want to include stalks in cooking, remember to remove the outermost layer, which is tough to eat, with a knife or vegetable peeler.
If you carefully follow my instructions on how to boil broccoli, you will surely enjoy every bite of it. Choose the method that you like the most or what is convenient at the time. The most important thing and one you must not skip is cleaning broccoli with care.
Whether you are trying to eat healthier or you want to teach your kids some good eating habits, keep in mind that broccoli has a taste that needs to be acquired.
Broccoli is versatile food - it can be a side dish, main course or tasty nutrition snack so try to use every part of it!
Do not hesitate to tell me what method you find your favorite or you can add some of your opinions on how to boil broccoli. If you have an additional question, I will be more than happy to answer it! 🙂