Calabrese or Broccoli?

We are often asked exactly what is a calabrese and how is it different from broccoli. It is true that there is a lot of confusion around – not helped by many supermarkets selling the large central heads of calabrese and calling them broccoli. In America they put broccoli and calabrese in the same family, meanwhile the origins of calabrese , the Italian region of Calibri, gives rise to its alternative name of Italian Sprouting Broccoli!

So to try and clear up some of the confusion: calabrese is considered to be a vegetable in its own right because it grows at a different time of the year and is cultivated slightly differently from broccoli. The most obvious difference is that Calabrese is sown and harvested in the same year (it isn’t hardy),and it is this speedy growth that makes calabrese such a good veggie for your plot. Seeds can be sown in situ or started in individual pots so that there is almost no root disturbance when planting them out (calabrese is less forgiving of root disturbance than broccoli), some varieties can be cut in less than three months. They form a bold central head, after this is cut many varieties will go on to produce side shoots with smaller heads making a tasty harvest over a longer period.