Brokali – Another Great Addition To A Healthy Home Grown Veggie Garden

 

It’s Brokali – Not Broccoli

That’s right.  I didn’t misspell it.

Brokali (bräk–ā’–lee), with the stress on the second syllable, is a cross hybrid between broccoli (bräk’–əlee) and Chinese kale – also known as Chinese broccoli.

This crossbreed is often referred to as broccolini – which, after seeing the “ini” ending, one would imagine that it is a smaller version of broccoli – and that is partially correct.  Brokali has florets – but they are much smaller – with a softer, milder, sweeter flavor than broccoli.  Some say that brokali, also called “tenderstem broccoli” in the United Kingdom, has a hint of an asparagus taste.

The brokali stalks are longer and thinner, too – making them much easier and tenderer to eat – as opposed to the thick, woody and tough broccoli stalks.

And, the leaves are quite edible – and flavorful – like that of Chinese kale.  And, don’t forget to chow down on some of the flowers – they are exceptionally sweet and succulent.

In other words, the entire plant – from the ground up – is consumable.

 

A Bit Of HistoryYokohama, Japan - Home to Sakata Seed Company

The Sakata Seed Company, Yokohama, Japan, took about 8 years to perfect this little veggie.  They began to grow it commercially in Mexico – in 1994.  Marketing in the U.S.A. started 2 years later.

Sakata partnered with the Mann Packing Company in Salinas, CA, in 1998, to officially market brokali as “broccolini.”

Then, operations were expanded into Australia – working with Perfection Fresh Australia.

 

Brokali Nutrition And Health Benefits

It has lots of vitamins A and C – loads of fiber – and all the other healthy nutrients needed for a well maintained human body – calcium, potassium, iron, etc. – plus a smattering of other vitamins and minerals.

Brokali promotes bone health, bowel regularity, and helps prevent heart disease.

 

Great Ways To Eat This Newfound Veggie

Steamed brokali with garlic salt.

I like mine almost raw – after steaming them – or blanching them for a minute or less in some boiling water.  Finally, thrusting them into some cold water to stop the cooking process.

Sometimes I’ll chop them up and add them to a salad.  Other times, I’ll sprinkle them with a little garlic salt and have a bit of dressing – either bleu cheese or ranch – handy for an occasional dip of extra flavor.

Cook brokali lightly – to retain a little crunchiness – just like you would with broccoli.  If you cook brassica plants like these too long, they become mushy and lose most of their nutritional value.

Other than steaming and boiling, these little veggies taste great in a sauté or stir fry.

Try coating brokali with flour and beer batter and deep frying them.  They make a very crunchy and tasty appetizer.

The bottom line is – use the flowers, florets, and stalks just as you would with broccoli – and, use the leaves just like kale.

 

Brokali Varieties To Choose From

It is difficult to find brokali in a grocery store.  Typically, only gourmet shops carry it – and that is not always certain.  Call a few gourmet shops in your area and see if they have ever even heard of it – then, if they don’t already stock it, maybe they will add it to their inventory.  But, be prepared to pay a pretty penny for it.  Gourmet shop brokali is unquestionably not cheap!

Here are a few varieties you may want to try growing:

Apollo Hybrid BrokaliAtlantic Brokali

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apollo Hybrid – Soft, tender texture with the whole plant having a sweet, nutty flavor.

Atlantic – Plant them in the spring, summer, or fall.  A cool weather plant, with supple florets and leaves, that is also more heat tolerant than broccoli.

 

How To Grow Brokali

Just like any other vegetable, brokali likes at least 6 to 8 hours of sun per day.  If you are planting in late spring or early summer, you may want to put them in an area of the garden that gets a bit of shade during the hottest part of midday.  Soil that drains well is another good thing.

Brokali is more heat tolerant than broccoli – but, they are also less cold tolerant.

Starting 2 months before planting, begin the indoor processes: germination, transplanting, and hardening off.

Seedlings are ready for the backyard garden when they are about 2 inches high.

  • Till the soil at least 6 to 8 inches deep to facilitate healthy root growth.
  • Make a furrow about an inch deep and layer in a half inch of Jim’s 50/50 soil mixture.
  • Plant seedlings a foot apart in rows 2 feet apart and cover the root ball with more of Jim’s soil mixture.

NOTES

Loosen the root ball a little to help root development.  If the root ball is too compacted, it will take longer for the plant to become established.

To promote a good root system, pinch off the lower leaves – leaving only the upper pair.  Then, put the seedlings deep enough into the garden soil – ensuring that the upper leaves are just barely above the ground.

  • Water well – moist but not soggy. Ensure they get about an inch of water a week.  A good rain gauge can give you an idea of when to water them.  Soaker hoses are a great way to get water to the plants and minimize wet leaves – which are susceptible to fungal diseases if they stay wet too long.
  • Mulch around plants to keep them cooler, protect the moisture in the dirt, and discourage weed growth. Those pesky, good for nothing weeds will steal the water and nutrients away from your veggies!  So, don’t let them!
  • Consider keeping floating row covers over the young plants until they start maturing. It will help keep the bad bugs away from them.

 

Pickin’ BrokaliPicked Brokali

After the florets are an inch or two wide, pick off the main head first – along with its stalk.  That allows more side shoots to form and will stretch out the harvest.  Pick off side shoots and florets as they grow to your preferred size.  If all the side shoots are pretty much ready, then pull the entire plant.

TIP:  Use a good sharp knife and cut the stalks off at an angle to prevent rainwater from settling in the cut stumps.

Leaves can be pulled off and used as kale at anytime during the growth stages.

 

Pests And Diseases

 

Diseases

Typical fungal diseases like leaf spot, downy mildew, and powdery mildew are the main maladies that brokali experiences – just like most other brassica type plants.  Hit them with a good helping of fungicide like Daconil or Physan 20 when you first spot any problems on the leaves or stalks.  If a plant is completely overcome by disease, get it completely out of the garden before it infects its neighbors, bag it, and set the bag out for trash pickup.  Do not ever put a diseases plant anywhere near a garden or a compost pile.  You may find the same disease returning for a rematch next year.

 

Pests

Those dastardly aphids, along with cabbage loopers and flea beetles will chew up your entire crop if you let them.  At first sign of these creepy crawlies, attack with a vengeance with some Ortho Flower, Fruit and Vegetable Insect Killer close at hand.

 

Another Jed Joke (At Least, I Think It’s A Joke!)

My neighbor, Jed, a retired farmer, was lookin’ over my brokali harvest several weeks ago and he told me a story about his horse, Buddy.

Jed's horse, Buddy.

Jed said buddy was not only big and strong – but, somewhat of a hero.

I became interested and asked Jed, “Why?”

Well, Jed went on…

“One day a guy came down my road lickety-split and drove off into the ditch.  Once I saw what happened, I grabbed Buddy and some rope – and headed up the road to help him get out of that there ditch.

I hitched Buddy up to the car and said, ‘Pull, Jasper – Pull!’

Buddy didn’t move – not one inch.

I waited a couple of minutes, and then I said ‘Pull Midnight – Pull!’

Again, Buddy didn’t move.

Once again I yelled, saying, ‘Pull Buttercup – Pull!’

Buddy acted like he was asleep.

Finally, I said, ‘Pull Buddy – Pull!’

And, buddy pulled that car out of the ditch like nobody’s business!  It was a sight to behold!

Well that driver was so relieved – and happy to have his car out of the ditch – being no worse for the wear – but, he was a little curious – asking me why I called my horse by the wrong name 3 times before I used his correct name.

So, I explained to him that Buddy was blind.  And, if Buddy thought he was the only one pulling, he wouldn’t even try.”

 

Well I got to hand it to Buddy, that was one smart horse – but, Jed figured out a way to out-fox him!

Did you enjoy this brokali article?  Do you have any questions – or suggestions on future commentary?  Make some remarks below or email me – and let me know what you think…

 

Jim, the Lifelong Gardener

jim@perfect-vegetable-garden.com

14 thoughts on “Brokali – Another Great Addition To A Healthy Home Grown Veggie Garden

  1. Letsret Reply

    Hi Jim,

    This is the first I’ve heard of this plant, and it is actually a combination of two of my favorite vegetables.

    I use Kale in my morning smoothie, Do you think Brokali would also work will for smoothie drinks?

    Also, I wonder how this plant holds up in cooler climates.  Where i live some of the Kale I grow will continue to grow after the first few frosts.  Will this plant do that same?

    • Jim Reply

      If you can use kale and / or broccoli for a smoothie, I’m sure that brokali would also be a great candidate, too!

      Brokali holds up well in cooler climates – but, not quite as good as kale or broccoli.  However, brokali is a bit more heat tolerant than either of its ancestors.

      Hope that helps clarify things for you.

      Jim

  2. Danny Reply

    I’ve heard of both Broccoli and Kale but I had no idea they could be combined like this! It sounds like there’s a lot of great health benefits to eating this; but I did have one question I was hoping you could address. Obviously, both Broccoli and Kale on their own are great for you in terms of health benefits. Is Brokali more or less healthy as a result of combining the two? Does it make a noticeable difference?

    • Jim Reply

      Hi Danny,

      Without sounding too flippant, let me say this – it’s a vegetable.  Vegetables are all healthy in their own way.  They all have all the basic nutrient goodies that your body needs.  If you only consumed fresh vegetables, you probably won’t outlive Methuselah – who supposedly made it to the very, very ripe old age of 969 – but, you’ll definitely feel a lot better as your bones get older in your twilight years.

      Vegetable nutrients vary and, depending on what nutrients you want to concentrate on – would depend on what vegetables you find healthier than others.

      Does that make sense to you?

      Jim

  3. Nate Stone Reply

    Hi Jim, 

    Interesting article, I have a lot of cruciferous vegetables in my diet due to them being great for increasing testosterone and removing estrogen from the body. Does Brokali have a combined nutrition profile of Broccoli and Kale? If so I’ll look to add to my diet as supposed to purchasing both, any ideas on if you can buy Brokali in the uk?

    • Jim Reply

      Hi Nate,

      I would say that anytime you pair a couple of veggies together to make a hybrid, you get the best of both worlds.  Just like with people, don’t you think?

      Brokali can get quite pricey if you want to buy the veggie, itself.  But, I’m sure you might find it in a gourmet type grocery store.

      Your best bet is to buy the seeds and grow your own!  Try it!  You’ll like it!

      Jim

  4. mzakapon Reply

    Most of the people who love gardening would be very interested in this information about brokali

    To most of them, a perfect vegetable garden is more of a dream but, I think if they follow the steps you have shown, they should have no problem growing brokali.

    I appreciate all the resourceful information you have given here to help us grow this wonderful hybrid.

    I love gardening and I, for one, found lots of information that will really help me.  I am definitely sold on brokali.  That’s for sure.

    • Jim Reply

      I’m glad you found my brokali article informative, as well as instructive.  The Perfect Vegetable Garden is chock full of great tips and tricks to help you with your gardening success!

      Have a look around.  I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

      Jim

  5. AV 2001 Reply

    Hey Jim! How are you doing? I really enjoyed reading this blog as you’ve provided us with tonnes of valuable information. To be honest with you, I thought you misspelled it but then I realized everything was on track. I’ve never heard of this plant before but I’m planning to grow it and taste it. The place where I live in is quite hot and dry throughout the summer and rains very little and goes to 16 in winter. Which is the best season to grow Brokali?

    Thanks a lot in advance for answering my question. I’m a big fan of growing vegetables and I would love to keep visiting your website in the near future. Well done!!!

    • Jim Reply

      Even though brokali is a little more heat tolerant than its parents, broccoli and kale, it still leans towards being a cool weather veggie.  So, it may not grow so well in a scorching hot summer that stays in the 90’s and above consistently.

      Try growing it in the “not so hot” months.  And, no matter what veggie you grow, they will definitely need to get their inch of water a week – to stay healthy.  So, you may need to think seriously about how you can irrigate your garden plants.

      Jim

  6. Chris Reply

    What a really interesting vegetable, and thank you for introducing it to me, as I actually thought you had made an error in spelling in your title!!!

    I normally like to choose my greens on the basis of how much magnesium they contain due to heart health and exercise – do you know if this particular veggie contains any amounts of magnesium?

    • Jim Reply

      Hi Chris,

      I had a feeling when I wrote the article that some folks may think that I couldn’t spell very well.  That’s why I went through the phonetic processes to show that it was correct.

      So, you want magnesium.  Well just about every veggie has it.  And, since both broccoli and kale – the parents of brokali – are high in magnesium – I would highly suspect that there is a healthy dose of it in brokali, as well!

      Jim

  7. Jason Reply

    I just started getting into gardening last year, your website is a huge help for me as I am a newbie to gardening. Would brokali be considered a good side dish for a fish dinner? I’m trying to decide how much room I will need to set aside in my garden to grow this vegetable considering I don’t have many recipes at the moment 

    Thank You 

    Jason

    • Jim Reply

      Hi Jason,

      Brokali is a good side dish for anything – fish, fowl, beef, or pork – you name it.

      And, any recipes you have for broccoli or kale, can basically be used for brokali – depending on whether you are using the florets or the leaves.

      Jim

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