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You can eat the leaves of sprouting broccoli plants

Photo: White sprouting broccoli leaves

Photo: White sprouting broccoli leaves

For the past five years John Coe has supplied us with sprouting broccoli plants. The purple variety gives a bigger, longer harvest. But nothing can beat the sweetness of white sprouting broccoli. This is the Premier Cru of sprouting broccoli. It is generally not available from the shops as the plants are smaller, the yield is minimal and the harvest is short.

Sounds like the sort of vegetable that you should ignore. Wrong. White sprouting broccoli is a real delicacy. On a par with the first longed for asparagus shoots. If you have the space, give this angelic vegetable the chance to dazzle you. The plants are set in July and the harvest is in the following April.  They hang out decoratively over the winter and from March the florets are forming.

With us, the sprouting broccoli season is finally over. The plants were standing with leaves but no florets beside the raspberry canes when John Coe surveyed them on Wednesday.
“I don’t think that I’ve told you that the leaves of white sprouting broccoli are delicious and sweet.“

He had never divulged this.

“Just tear the leaves from the central stem, remove the thick leaf stem and simmer them for seven to eight minutes. They taste gorgeous.”

So last night I harvested some leaves from a couple of plants. John was right they were sweet and tasty and packed with fresh leaf flavour. So good that the Min Pins polished off the few remaining cooked leaves this morning preferring them to the pig’s liver topping!

So don’t jettison your broccoli plants to the compost heap. Eat the leaves and enjoy a real treat and if you have leftovers share them with your pets.

  Leave a reply


  1. maria harding

    why have my purple sprouting brocholli turned yellow, can you eat this

  2. Gary Knight

    What i find so annoying is that all broccoli or a.n. other leaf veg is now trimmed within an inch of it’s life. Why do supermarkets or small green grocers now only stock “what” they think people want. Even some of the farm shops i go to have started trimming and all you can get is the flower…….it makes me quite angry that i can’t get untrimmed leaf veg 🙁

    If someone has an address or link to a farm shop in the SW of the UK i’d be most appreciative. Thanks in advanced 🙂

  3. Mary Alesbrook

    Just read your page very helpful thanks

  4. Recent discovery, turnip greens! Felt sure I’d read about it on this site, but this is the nearest post I’ve found to it. My parents in Spain have been growing the little turnips, which I can do without, but the leaves are delicious. I didn’t cook mine quite long enough, because I cut through the midrib rather than stripping the leaf from it, so it was a little fibrous, but I still have more in the fridge. I’ve hated all brassicas for years, so this is a revelation! I guess just about all brassica leaves are edible, it must just depend how tender they are & how long you want to cook them for!

  5. Barbara

    Hi all, this is all very interesting, i did not know you could eat beetroot leafs, and is it the big leaves from purple sprouting that you can eat ??, i am growing a lot of veg his year. any help would be good.

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