Frozen broccoli is typically packaged within a very short time after harvesting. This preserves the essential nutrients as well as the color and flavor. Many different companies sell frozen broccoli in packages of different sizes and quality. To choose the one that is best you should look for details such as the overall percentage of stems in the package and what additives have been used to enhance the flavor.
Industry standards dictate names for the specific cuts of broccoli. Broccoli spears consist of the florets and a section of the stem, all in one piece. These are often cut the long way so that the spears are consistent in diameter as well as length. Many people like the look and balance of frozen broccoli spears.
Florets are just the head portion of the plant. They can have enough stem to keep the heads together, but no more than is absolutely necessary for that purpose. Florets are often divided so that they are relatively small and generally about the same size.
Cut spears are irregular sized and shaped pieces that are essentially bite-size. A package of cut spears must contain at least 15% florets, but the rest can be made up of stems and leaves. Chopped broccoli is smaller than the cut spears and can contain as much as 35% leaves in addition to the requirement of 15% florets. The rest is made up of chopped stems.
Broccoli florets are the part of the plant that contain the most beta carotene, an important nutrient found in broccoli, as well as most of the vitamin C; florets are typically the part of the vegetable that most people prefer to eat. When choosing the best frozen broccoli, you should look packages containing mostly florets. Next, choose a package size that suits your needs, as broccoli is typically offered in both small boxes and larger bags of loose pieces.
Review what additives are in the frozen broccoli that you are buying. In some cases, the package will contain only broccoli and enough water for processing, but in other cases you may find various seasonings have been added. The most common additive is salt, which can add unwanted sodium to your diet; if you wish to avoid unnecessary salt, don’t buy frozen broccoli with added salt. When buying broccoli with other enhancements, such as cheese sauce, it is best to check the nutritional value since such additives can add both unwanted calories and fat to your food.