Broccolini® is one of my favourite vegetables – did you know we introduced it to Australia just on 22 years ago?
I thought it would be a good time to introduce you to one of our growers, Justin Vanstone.
Justin is a 4th generation farmer in Queensland and along with his family, runs Vanstone Produce. He’s been growing Broccolini® for us for the past four years.
Why grow Broccolini®?
We knew Broccolini® would rotate very well with our other bunching lines – spring onions and silverbeet. Our first season of growing Broccolini® was in 2017.
The other reason we became a grower for Perfection Fresh is that contract growing is attractive – we’re growing, we’re trying to expand, and so it’s suited us to grow something like Broccolini®.
What’s it like to grow Broccolini®?
Broccolini® is a bit of a diva, it needs some love at the end of growing to get the most out of the plant, and to get the best quality. Broccolini® is a very intense crop in terms of labour, everything from harvest onwards is done by hand.
Broccolini® is robust – it can be grown from the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland right down to Tasmania.
The last part of its growth is the most critical bit where a lot goes into it – this starts from the minute we start picking. We are just getting ready to start harvesting Broccolini®.
How do you know when they’re ready to harvest?
We pick Broccolini® multiple times to the optimal spec – nice tall slender dark green stems is what we want, so once it’s mature, the harvest window is fairly broad. We pick it twice a week.
In terms of the seasons, the cooler the better. Peak season is winter in Queensland. A winter’s day picking is from 6am to 2pm.
The fringe of our optimal season is what requires the most care from us – we aim to get Broccolini® into refrigeration within 20 minutes of harvest. From harvest we don’t break the cold chain all the way into the supermarket, to ensure Broccolini® is in optimal condition for customers.
Favourite way to eat Broccolini®
I love covering my Broccolini® with butter and eating it with steak!