Some people love it, others hate it. If you buy broccoli then you are unlikely to have much left over to be worrying too much about disposing of it in the compost. If you grow your own in the garden, then, you’re likely to have a surplus when it comes to the end of the season which you will want to make use of. This will include the remains of the whole plants, including the roots.
So, can you put broccoli in compost? Yes you can and, when you do, you will improve the outcome if you do this:
1.Chop it into small pieces
Broccoli is just like any other vegetable. It will rot down over a relatively short period of time. Cutting it into small pieces will help it to rot as fast is it can.
2.It’s ‘green’ so you will need ‘browns’
When making compost you need to manage the ingredients that you add to the growing mass that will be your compost heap. This will apply whether you have a basic compost heap, a bin or a compost tumbler. The mixture must be right. If you have too much ‘green’ material in the mix, you will have an excess of nitrates.
If we do nothing to balance this with enough carbon ‘browns’, then, we run the risk of compost not being made. Instead we may find that the mass will stagnate. If this happens, we will know about it because there will, most likely, be a noticeable smell. Anyone who’s experienced the smell of rotten cabbage will be familiar with the problem. Wherever there are bad smells, flies always appear. The more it smells, the more they like it.
So, if you have a lot of broccoli to dispose of, it’s highly recommended that you add a source of carbon when making compost. This is very easy. Most of us have access to basic carbon ‘browns’. Newspaper, cardboard or dead leaves are an ideal source of carbon ‘browns’. The general rule of thumb for this is to add approximately 20 units of carbon ‘browns’ to 1 unit of nitrate ‘greens’. So, plenty of shredded paper, dead leaves or shredded cardboard will balance the mixture. Making a point of doing this will ensure that the broccoli, and any other vegetable waste, will convert into compost. You will also remove the risk of any bad smells.
3.Add some white lime
The adding of hydrated white-lime will make a big difference to any composting process. Compost is, nearly always acidic. This is likely to happen to a higher degree if you haven’t added enough carbon ‘browns’ to a composting mass that has an excess of nitrate ‘greens’. White-lime will often compensate for this.
White-lime, being alkaline, is the opposite of acid. It will react with the acids that will be forming during the composting process. There will be an exact amount of white-lime that you will need to add to compost to remove all the acidity present in the accumulating mass. No one bothers to calculate this.
Most people who use white-lime just, regularly, add a liberal sprinkling to their compost, relying on their experience. If the compost looks right, then it is. If there are no bad smells then there will be no need to add any extra white-lime. We have a post that covers the subject of hydrated white-lime. Check out ‘What doe lime do to compost?’ to find out more.
4.How to avoid having to compost broccoli
Fresh broccoli will last in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. If you have more broccoli available to you than you need right now, you can freeze it. Broccoli crowns are quite easy to freeze.You may want to do this if you’ve had a good harvest from the garden or you may have found a plentiful supply at a bargain price at the local farmer’s market.
Before freezing, you need to blanch the vegetable. Blanching is the practice of partly cooking at a high temperature for a short while, then plunging it into ice-cold water.
Doing this will help to preserve many of the characteristics that the fresh vegetable has. Blanching will help to maintain the flavour and colour. The high temperature followed by rapid cooling will clean and sterilize. The process will remove dirt and kill any organisms that are likely to be present in the raw state.
Before you start blanching broccoli, you must leave it, fully submerged, in salty-water for 1 to 2 hours. This will encourage ant slugs or insects to evacuate. Broccoli has plenty of places within it for things to hide. Soaking in salt water will flood them out and bring them to the surface. After this preliminary soaking you can rinse with cold water. It will now be ready for the blanching stage.
There are two ways of applying the heat to achieve a successful blanch. Whichever way you choose, you will need a vessel containing enough ice-cold water to dip the hot broccoli into.
Boiling water blanching
For this, you need a large enough pot to boil about 1 pound of broccoli crowns. Bring the water to boiling. Then place the crowns in the boiling water. After placing them in the boiling water, wait for boiling to resume then start timing from this point, leaving them in for 3 minutes.
For this you will need a steamer. There are modern steamers that involve baskets that stack in a column with steam being emitted from the boiling water in the base. It can also be done by boiling a pan of water and suspending a wire basket, containing the broccoli, above it. Aim to keep the broccoli in the steam for 5 minutes.
When it’s reached full-time for this short blast of heat, you must plunge it into the waiting cold water to cool it down as quickly as possible. The cooling should happen within a few seconds of being immersed. When you are satisfied that it’s cold, you can put the broccoli in either, containers or plastic freezer-bags, seal and place in the deep freezer.
5.Do you always have to compost the stems of broccoli?
With a bit of effort you can cook and eat broccoli stems. You must first, cut away the outer skin. Then they can be cut into pieces which can then be steamed or boiled. The cooking may take a while to make them soft enough to eat
The stems of broccoli will make compost but they tend to be hard and woody. You have to treat them like the cores of sweet corn. You need to chop them into small pieces. Anything, vegetable, that’s been chopped will turn into compost more efficiently than large, whole, solid items.