By Liesl Clark
If you’re a gardener, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Can you eat the flower heads of your brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, kale, collards, arugula, mustard)? Yes! As my friend Rebecca says, “We just call it “raab.”” It’s like broccoli raab or rape but much sweeter in the case of kale and collards which we’ve been enjoying for the past few weeks. And if you don’t believe me, visit the Mixed Greens Blog where you’ll learn more about the wonders of the brassica family.
Brassica florets, leaves, stems are all good for you. Even the yellow flowers themselves can be added to salads for color. These versatile veggies house nutrients that help protect you against prostrate, bladder, colon, pancreatic and breast cancers. We simply consider them among our “deep greens” family, easy to grow in most climates and hence worth finding great recipes for.
I pinch off the flower heads before they actually flower and they’re just like broccoli flowerets which can go in salads, omelets, macaroni and cheese, quiches, you name it! Pinch right down to the leaves and new florets will resprout. As long as you don’t let your plant flower completely the florets don’t get too bitter.
I guess it’s a sign of not being able to let go, but these brassica flower heads are too delicious not to harvest and they extend our food crops sometimes indefinitely. We do let a few plants flower just to keep the honey bees happy. One winter, I fed my family off of 4 brassicas the entire winter: the leaves, the stems, the florets, and then the flowers in salads. Seeds, too, are edible. We simply let the bees do their collecting of pollen and watch the flowers turn to seeds which drop to the ground and I never plant brassicas again. They resprout all over the garden. A perennial self-sustaining food forest that could feed many families for years to come.
Enjoy your brassica florets and do share your favorite recipes with us so we can extend our brassica bravado into new culinary adventures!
Interested in some more gardening inspirations? Please visit our Trash Backwards app!