We know you love Broccoli, but have you ever heard about Broccolini? While many think it’s young, immature Broccoli, it actually isn’t.
Compared to Broccoli, it’s sweeter, slimmer, and has fewer and softer leaves and loose florets.
It also takes longer to grow, with harvest taking 60 to 90 days after planting.
When to harvest Broccolini? Watch out for formed heads with dark green yet vibrant leaves. Given the right growing conditions, Broccolini will be ready for harvest when the plants are about eight to 12 weeks old.
How Do You Know When Your Broccolini Is Ready to Harvest?
Broccolini requires a longer growing season than other crops, even longer than Broccoli.
It is also not a perennial and will only produce one harvest per growing season, so you only have one chance to do it right.
You will have the best chance of growing healthy Broccolini plants if you start the seeds indoors around a month before the last frost date.
You can also just buy seedlings from your local garden store so that you can sow them directly in your garden.
While sensitive to cold, Broccolini can take the heat better than Broccoli. As such, you won’t have to worry much about plant care.
Here’s how to know if your Broccolini plants are near the end of their growth and are ready for harvesting:
Inspect the leaves and stem.
Around 11 weeks after planting, check the heads of your Broccolini plants.
The stems will be slightly longer and thicker, but make sure they are six to 12 inches long before harvesting.
Allowed to grow to full maturity, these cruciferous vegetables can grow as high as two to three feet.
Look at the color of your Broccolini.
Broccolini turning into a vibrant green color means you’re only a few days away from harvest.
The heads will have formed around this time, too, but harvest before they separate and form individual flowers.
Check the date.
The surest way to tell if your Broccolini plants are ready for picking is by checking the date.
The seed packet should tell you exactly how many days you need to wait, considering the growing conditions in your region.
As mentioned, it can take anywhere from two to three months for Broccolini to grow.
To give you an idea, if you planted the seeds in the first week of April, they would probably be mature enough for harvest come the first week of June between the first week of July.
Make sure they haven’t flowered yet.
Broccolini leaves taste their best when you harvest them before they flower.
This way, you can enjoy its sweet and somewhat peppery flavor profile, which is what makes them a good side dish for your proteins.
What Happens if You Don’t Harvest Broccolini?
The overall quality of any crop you don’t harvest when already fully mature will begin to deteriorate.
For Broccolini, it will start to lose its crisp texture and sweet flavor, and the leaves will turn yellow.
More importantly, leaving them on the plant for too long could also mean losing their nutrients.
The plant will lose its crispiness
If you allow your Broccolini to grow way past its maturity, you will notice its leaves turning saggy and losing their crisp.
The stems will also turn soft and won’t be good enough to eat.
The taste and color will change.
Around this time, the color of the leaves will also change from green to yellow.
Even if you try to save and cook them, you will end up with bitter-tasting vegetables.
The vegetable will lose some of its significant nutrients.
Broccolini contains calcium and magnesium, so those with high blood pressure will benefit from adding it to their diets.
However, an overgrown Broccolini will have reduced levels of these nutrients.
If you want to enjoy this vegetable in all its glory, you must make sure you harvest them on time.
The plants will bolt.
Not harvesting your Broccolini when it’s ready will encourage the plant to bolt.
This means it will focus more of its energy on producing flowers and growing seeds instead of its delicious leaves.
That’s why cutting and harvesting Broccolini before it flowers is important.
Like with all leafy vegetables, you will have bitter-tasting produce if you allow the plants to flower.
How To Harvest Broccolini
Even with enough space between Broccolini plants, it can be challenging to harvest them without accidentally cutting another.
As such, you have to be extra careful when harvesting them. Here’s what you need to do to ensure you harvest your Broccolini correctly:
Step 1: Inspect your plant.
When it’s nearing its maturity date, look for signs that say your Broccolini plants are done growing.
Also, check how many heads each plant has formed to have an idea of how big your harvest is.
Step 2: Prepare your tools.
Once you’re sure they are ready, start gathering your tools.
Some harvest the florets by picking them off of their stems, but you won’t get a clean cut doing that.
That’s why most gardeners advise using pruning scissors for harvesting.
Check that they are freshly sharpened and disinfected.
Step 3: Know where to cut your Broccolini.
While your Broccolini plants will die off after just one growing season, they will produce new shoots throughout that time.
In fact, you might be able to harvest two to three times every month if you’re lucky.
The key to increasing your yield is knowing where to cut your Broccolini.
Make sure you cut at the base of the stem, about two to three inches from the soil.
To encourage more growth, be careful not to cut small heads that are still growing.
Step 4: Continue caring for your Broccolini.
As long as outdoor temperatures haven’t gone up yet, your Broccolini plants will continue to produce more shoots.
This is where timing when to plant and harvest your Broccolini plants becomes crucial.
Plant the seeds so that you can harvest them when the weather is not too hot or too cold.
Generally, they will continue growing if the temperature in your area during the first harvest is around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Should You Wash Broccolini After Harvesting?
So, you’re done harvesting your Broccolini; what now?
If you decide to eat your Broccolini immediately after cutting from the main stem, you should wash it first.
Doing this removes any dirt and insects that could be hiding between the leaves. It also gets rid of any pesticide residue in case you used some.
While washing Broccolini is just like rinsing any other fresh produce, there are considerations you need to keep in mind.
Check the temperature of the water.
After harvesting, bring your Broccolini inside and get a bowl and colander.
Use cold or lukewarm water to rinse the leaves and stems because hot water can ruin their crispness and make them soggy.
Don’t leave them in the water too long.
Fill the bowl with water and put the Broccolini in it upside down.
Leave it to soak for five to 10 minutes, making sure you check it from time to time to ensure the quality doesn’t change.
It’s also a good idea to swish the Broccolini heads around to remove any dirt.
Can You Eat Broccolini Immediately After Harvesting?
You can eat Broccolini right after harvesting as long as you rinse it first.
The good thing about this vegetable is you can eat the whole bunch, from the stems to the leaves and even the tiny flowers.
One of the simplest ways to prepare Broccolini is to remove the ends and sauté in olive oil and garlic.
You can chop it into tiny pieces, toss it with your pasta of choice, and then top it with parmesan cheese.
Others enjoy Broccolini by blanching it first and then adding a squeeze of lemon, a little olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt.
If you still have some leftovers, you can give away some to neighbors and friends or store them for later use.
Simply put them in a plastic bag and store the bag in the fridge’s crisper drawer. Alternatively, you can submerge the stems in water and put the jar in the fridge.
Broccolini stored properly will last in the refrigerator for about seven days.
That said, you may want to eat them as soon as possible so that you can enjoy their tenderness and peppery flavor.
Unfortunately, this vegetable doesn’t freeze well, so we don’t recommend it.
Not only will freezing them affect their flavor and overall quality but also make them decay faster when you defrost them.
Broccolini is an awesome vegetable to add to your diet because it contains a good amount of magnesium, fiber, and calcium.
It also has a distinct taste and tender texture, so even picky kids will love munching on it.
You can eat Broccolini raw, sautéed, or blanched, and it is a great pairing for any kind of protein.
Based on our experience, the best way to enjoy it is if you grow it yourself. It doesn’t need much care, so you will find the experience very enjoyable!