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Mar 8, 2005 07:58 PM

Is broccolini genetically engineered?

  • t

Does anyone happen to know if broccolini is genetically engineered, or is it just some kind of natural mutation ... ? Anyone with some insight into this, I would love to hear from you!

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  1. It is a commercial hybrid:

    [Oregon State University info] Broccolini, a hybrid of standard broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica) with Chinese kale (Brassica oleracea var. alboglabra), which resembles long, slender broccoli side shoots that are nearly ready to flower. The flavor has been described as similar to broccoli but sweeter and less pungent or as resembling asparagus. This hybrid was developed by Sakata Seed Co. and is grown and marketed exclusively in the United States by Mann Packing Co. and Sanbon LLC of California.

    1. Yes, Broccolini is a trademarked, engineered crop that only that farm can grow and sell. Our farm (small market farm here in CA) grows 'broccoli di cicco', which is sometimes called 'sprouting' broccoli. It's an old fashioned, heirloom Italian/Roman broccoli that's suited for gardens. You plant it once then keep cutting the shoots. You cook the leaves and the stems. The restaurants and f. market customers go wild for this stuff. -cg

      below is a photo taken at our farm of a broccoli di cicco plant:


      3 Replies
      1. re: chardgirl

        I think we should be clear on the term engineering - the op's question was with regard specifically to genetic engineering as vs. hybridizing, which has been going on for millennia through cross-polination, grafting, etc. Trademarked or not, Broccolini is a result of crossing European and Asian broccoli plants and is not a genetically engineered (ie, gene spliced) product. It is not a "natural mutation" - it was purposely created by people, as are so many of our foods and food sources, not to mention our pets. My source is Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking, The Science and Lore of the Kitchen (revised edition 2004).

        1. re: applehome

          that is a fantastic book. i love it for stuff like this.

          1. re: applehome
            Silverlake Bodhisattva

            Good point, particularly when your're discussing brasicas (spelling?) (The whole mustard/bok choy/cabbage/broccoli/rabe/cauliflower/kohlrabi family, which are all basically superhybridized versions of a pretty narrow range of wild mustard parents) or citrus, both of which have been hybridized for centuries, and don't resemble anything that occurs without several hundred, or thousands of generations of hybridizing "fiddling".

            Sorta like "Where were the wild poodles?"


        2. s

          What I see in the grocery stores called broccolini doesn't look like anything I have ever grown or seen at farmer's market or in a seed catalog. It does seem different, very uniform and a brighter green. Not quite like sprouting broc but I don't really know. Interesting question. I ususally don't buy it because of the cost.