Broccolini (original Japanese: ブロッコリーニ) is a green vegetable similar to broccoli but with smaller florets and longer, thin stalks. It is a natural hybrid of broccoli and gai lan (jie lan in standard Chinese; sometimes referred to as "Chinese Kale" or "Chinese Brocolli"), both cultivar groups of Brassica oleracea.
Broccolini was originally developed over eight years by the Sakata Seed Company of Yokohama, Japan in Salinas, California in 1993 as "aspabroc". It was developed as a natural hybrid rather than being genetically modified.
Sakata partnered with Sanbon Incorporated in 1994 to begin growing commercially in Mexico under the title Asparation, chosen for undertones of asparagus flavoring. After becoming first available in US markets in 1996, in 1998 Sakata began a partnership with the Mann Packing Company and marketed the product as Broccollini. In 1999, Broccolini as a registered trademark in Australia was granted to Perfection Fresh Australia by Sakata.
Broccolini has a similar structure to sprouting type broccoli. It grows to 80 centimeters, with a slender elongated stem that is 15–30 centimeters long. It is annual or biennial, herbaceous and glabrous.
The entire vegetable (leaves, young stems, unopened flower shoots, and flowers) is consumable. Its flavor is sweet, with notes of both broccoli and asparagus, although it is not closely related to the latter.
Common cooking methods include sauteeing, steaming, boiling, and stir frying. According to a 2005 Horticulture Australia study, in Australia, 78% of people steam broccolini, 53% stir fry it, and 3% eat it raw or in a salad. It is usually eaten steamed in Japan, where it is highly popular as a spring vegetable.
Broccolini is high in vitamin C and contains significant vitamin A and dietary fibre. 1 cup (122g or 4.3oz) contains 37 calories (155 kj) with 105% of daily vitamin C intake, 39% of vitamin A needs and 15% of dietary fibre needs. Broccolini also contains potassium, calcium and iron in smaller amounts and .
Broccolini grows in cool climates and is intolerant to extreme climates. It is more sensitive to cold temperatures than broccoli but less sensitive to hot temperatures.
Growth and distribution
Broccolini takes 50–60 days to grow after being transplanted. It is harvested when the heads are fully developed but are not flowering. By cutting off the head, the harvest time is extended by four weeks as new shoots of smaller heads now grow. After being harvested, the plant is cooled to 0°C, preventing the flower heads developing.
Broccolini is grown near the central California coast during the spring, summer, and fall seasons and Yuma, Arizona throughout the winter. It is sold throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, as well as 5 states in Australia.
The International Federation for Produce Standards assigns it the price look-up code 3277, "baby broccoli". It is also known as asparation, asparations, "sweet baby broccoli", bimi, broccoletti, broccolette "Italian Sprouting broccoli", and Tenderstem. In the United Kingdom and Ireland it is referred to as "Tenderstem broccoli". In Brazil, the common form of the word broccoli ("brócolis") refers to broccolini: the more traditional broccoli is called "brócolis americano" (American broccoli).
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