A vegetable that looks like miniature trees can be nothing but healthy!
However, many people can’t get over the flavor of broccoli no matter how many health benefits it has. But what about purple broccoli? It does look better and more appealing. Maybe it tastes better too…
What is purple broccoli? Purple broccoli is a sprouting broccoli variety distinguished with the violet hue its florets have. It is different from green broccoli not only in color but also in taste, texture, and nutritional value.
Continue reading to learn more about purple sprouting broccoli and how it’s different from green broccoli. You will also learn about the health benefits of this good-looking cruciferous vegetable and how to use it.
What Is Purple Broccoli?
Some people find broccoli to be a boring vegetable. However, this cruciferous vegetable has a reputation as a superfood and can make your diet so much healthier if you learn about the right ways of using it.
All broccoli varieties are healthy and purple broccoli is not an exception. Purple broccoli is also known as purple sprouting broccoli.
In case you didn’t know, sprouting broccoli is different from standard broccoli. As opposed to regular broccoli, sprouting broccoli has small florets. Additionally, the harvesting seasons for sprouting broccoli are winter and spring.
Purple broccoli is also known by the name winter sprouting broccoli as it grows during the coldest season.
What Are the Differences Between Purple Broccoli and Green Broccoli?
If you think that purple broccoli is the same as green broccoli, you are right. But only partly! It is not only the color that makes the two different. There are also a few other notable differences between purple broccoli and green broccoli.
Color and Appearance
The key difference between purple sprouting broccoli and green broccoli is obviously the color.
Purple broccoli is not entirely purple though. It is the floret clusters and leaves of purple broccoli that have a violet hue. The intensity of the purple color may differ from head to head.
Unlike most green broccoli varieties, purple broccoli plants have numerous smaller heads. As the heads of purple broccoli are smaller, it is only logical that they have a more tender texture.
While color and appearance are two of the obvious difference between purple sprouting broccoli and green broccoli, the two varieties also have flavor differences.
The taste of purple broccoli is not the same as the taste of green broccoli. However, it is not drastically different either. Purple broccoli has a sweeter flavor compared to its green counterpart.
The sweetness of the purple sprouting broccoli has to do with the fact that it is grown at cooler temperatures.
So, if you don’t like green broccoli for its flavor, it might be a good idea to give purple sprouting broccoli a try as you might enjoy its delicate flavor profile.
Purple broccoli might be a good choice for the kids too as the small purple heads may look more appealing than their all-green cousin.
There is also purple baby broccoli which has a slightly sweeter flavor profile with nutty and peppery notes. But this variety of purple broccoli doesn’t lack the flavor specific to cruciferous vegetables either.
People who eat both purple and green broccoli claim that purple broccoli is more tender and fragile. This cuts down the cooking time for purple sprouting broccoli.
You should avoid overcooking broccoli in order to maintain its crispy and appealing texture, be it green broccoli or purple broccoli.
Overcooking this vegetable not only causes it to soften and break apart but also lose its color, taste worse, as well as make it lose its nutrients.
So, when cooking with purple broccoli, be more cautious as it is more tender than green broccoli and can overcook within seconds.
The best way to prevent broccoli from overcooking is to blanch it. Boil the sprouts for 1-2 minutes and instantly transfer them into a bowl filled with cold water.
This might seem to be too much work but doing these steps is important especially when working with such fragile broccoli varieties as purple sprouting broccoli.
Cooking Methods and Uses
The cooking methods and uses of purple broccoli are the same as green broccoli. The only thing to keep in mind is that purple broccoli requires a shorter cooking time as it has a more delicate texture.
Here is how to cook and enjoy purple sprouting broccoli:
- Eating raw. As with regular green broccoli, eating it raw is an option for purple broccoli too. You can eat the purple sprouts as is, with a dip, or seasoned with salt and pepper, and drizzled with olive oil or lemon juice for extra flavor. Eating broccoli raw is the best way to get as many nutrients as possible from this vegetable.
- Boiling/blanching. It will take you only a couple of minutes to boil purple broccoli. Make sure to transfer it into cold water to preserve the color and prevent the florets from overcooking.
- Steaming. Steaming purple broccoli is another healthy way of cooking it. Steaming broccoli doesn’t take long either – only 60 seconds longer than boiling it.
- Frying. It is hard to imagine a vegetable stir-fry without broccoli. It adds so much color and texture to the dish. Purple broccoli, similar to green broccoli, can be successfully added to stir-fries.
- Roasting. If you enjoy the flavor of this cruciferous vegetable, then you will certainly enjoy eating roasted purple broccoli. A few minutes in the oven will enhance the flavor of purple broccoli. All you need to do is to season it and drizzle it with olive oil.
You can use purple broccoli to make salads, stir-fries, gratins, pasta dishes, as well as serve it as a side dish for potatoes, salmon, chicken, beef, etc. Purple broccoli is also a great accompaniment for various dips and sauces.
Cultivation and Availability
Both purple and green broccoli are cool-season crops. However, purple broccoli is more difficult to grow than green broccoli. It requires more patience as purple broccoli takes longer to grow.
Additionally, you have to determine the right time for planting it as purple sprouting broccoli needs to grow at the coolest temperatures.
Unlike green broccoli that you can find in supermarkets year-round, the availability of purple sprouting broccoli throughout the year is limited.
Freshly harvested purple broccoli is mainly available in late winter and early spring.
As purple broccoli takes more effort to grow, grows slower and less productively, the price of this colorful broccoli variety is always higher compared to regular green broccoli.
Considering the major health benefits of purple broccoli and the fact that not many vegetables are in season during that time of the year, you should certainly buy and cook with purple broccoli to get the most out of the season.
Storage and Shelf Life
There are no differences between purple and green broccoli as far as their shelf life and storage conditions are concerned.
In the case of both varieties, it is best to eat them as soon as possible. However, when stored in the fridge and loosely wrapped in a plastic bag, the broccoli will keep well for 4-6 days.
You can freeze and preserve broccoli longer (up to 6 months), both green and purple varieties. It is best to blanch broccoli before freezing to preserve its color, flavor, and texture.
Broccoli is a super healthy vegetable, no matter what color it is.
There are nutritional differences between purple sprouting broccoli and green broccoli. However, not significant as one would expect. Green broccoli is slightly lower in calories and fat. It also contains less protein.
But both varieties are good sources of such vitamins and minerals as vitamin A, K, folic acid (a naturally occurring B vitamin), iron, and calcium.
Broccoli is known as a vegetable that is very rich in vitamin C. If this is the vitamin you are after, then you should certainly choose purple broccoli over green broccoli. Purple sprouting broccoli has a much higher vitamin C content.
A cup of purple sprouting broccoli is said to contain 135% of the daily recommended value of vitamin C.
Here are a few other benefits purple sprouting broccoli has.
- Low carbohydrate and high fiber content. This makes purple broccoli a great vegetable for those trying to lose weight. It can help you feel full for a longer period of time.
- High water content. It may be hard to believe but broccoli is 90% water. Thus, it can be a great food to keep your body functioning properly and contribute to your overall water intake.
- Powerful antioxidants. Broccoli is a good source of powerful antioxidants like vitamin K and vitamin C. These are essential nutrients that are said to help your body combat inflammation and free radicals.
|Purple Broccoli (100 grams)
|Green Broccoli (100 grams)
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