Broccolini or baby broccoli is a green vegetable similar to broccoli but with smaller florets and longer, thin stalks. It is a hybrid of broccoli and gai lan (which is sometimes referred to as "Chinese kale" or "Chinese broccoli"), both cultivar groups of Brassica oleracea. The name broccolini is a registered trademark of Mann Packing.
Broccolini was originally developed over eight years by the Sakata Seed Company of Yokohama, Japan. It was developed as a hybrid of broccoli and Chinese cabbage, rather than being genetically modified.
Sakata partnered with Sanbon Incorporated in 1994 to begin growing the product commercially in Mexico under the name Asparation, implying a similarity to asparagus due to the slim, edible stem. After first becoming available in US markets in 1996, in 1998 Sakata began a partnership with Mann Packing Company in Salinas, California, and marketed the product as Broccolini. New forms of broccolini continue to be developed, including purple broccolini.
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 glaucous.
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, 78% of people in Australia 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 a significant amount of vitamin A and dietary fiber. One cup (122 g/4.3 oz) 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.
Broccolini grows in cool climates and is intolerant of 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 will 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 five 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", broccoletti, and broccolette "Italian Sprouting broccoli",. In Brazil, the common form of the word broccoli ("brócolis") refers to broccolini; the more traditional broccoli is called "brócolis americano" (American broccoli) or "brócolis ninja" (ninja broccoli). It is sold under the registered trade marks BIMI and TENDERSTEM.
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