How to Chop Broccoli 

How to chop broccoli before cooking

Chopping broccoli seems like a pretty basic task, right? Well did you know that how you chop broccoli makes a difference in its cancer fighting abilities? If not, read on. 

Broccoli’s health benefits are predominantly associated with its high amount of bioactive compounds such as phenolics, glucosinolates, isothiocyanates, and ascorbic acid.

One of these phytonutrients, sulforaphane, is particularly finicky with heat and cutting techniques. Sulforaphane is an active isothiocyanate, found in food via its storage form of Glucoraphanin

So to be utilized by the body, an enzyme known as myrosinase must act on glucoraphanin. This can be done via both temperature and how you chop broccoli. 

Let’s recap; sulforaphane is known for its anti-cancer benefits, among other benefits, but it’s not readily bioavailable. To make it available, chopping broccoli activates myrosinase, this activates sulforaphane from its storage form glucoraphanin.  

Got it? 

So then, what is the best way to chop broccoli? 

A study looked at 4 different styles of cutting; cutting into larger florets, halving each floret, quartering each floret or very finely chopping the heads into eraser sized pieces. 

The study found that quartering each floret is the optimum chopping style if broccoli is going to be consumed immediately after cutting since the extractability of total isothiocyanates and phenolic compounds increases. 

On the other hand, if higher levels of overall phytonutrient levels are desirable, cutting the broccoli into the larger florets and waiting 24 hours to eat (like meal prepping) increases its total phenolic, glucosinolate and sulforaphane content. 

That means, if you plan to eat it right now, chop broccoli into quarter florets. If you plan to eat it tomorrow, chop your broccoli into large florets, simply cut each floret off the stalk. 

How does chopping broccoli affect the nutrient content? 

The application of wounding a plant results in the degradation or even the accumulation of secondary metabolites with health-promoting properties. Think of it like survival of the plant! 

For broccoli, it has been well characterized that wounding stress induces the accumulation of phenolic compounds in plants through a complex cross-talk between signaling pathways

So, recently wounding or chopping broccoli was proposed as an effective way to increase the concentration of specific glucosinolates and phenolics in broccoli florets. 

On the other hand, wounding and storage time have been reported to reduce the content of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) in broccoli. 

If you want to see these chopping techniques in action check out my video all about how to chop broccoli

Can I use the broccoli stalk?

I’m glad you asked! Never pitch the stalk.

First begin by cutting the broccoli crown from its stem. Set the crown aside.

Then, using a chef’s knife, peeling knife or vegetable peeler, simply peel away the hard outer fibrous portion. Then, chop the stalk into uniform pieces to use like the rest of the broccoli florets.