Preparing calabrese (broccoli) heads

Harvesting and preserving your fruit & veg

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As the Calabrese is about ready to harvest now (at least it is here in the south west), I thought I'd share this tip for making sure it doesn't go into the pan with any little friends from the garden still attached. The little green caterpillars (cabbage looper moth and cabbage white butterfly) are a problem as they are well camouflaged, they can get right up underneath the florets, and they can attach themselves with silk. Washing is not always enough to remove them.

This is the method for removing them:

1) Cut up the calabrese head into individual florets (save the sprue for soup if wanted).

2) Wash and drain the florets - this is still necessary to get any dirt or small flies off them.

3) Fill a clean sink with cold water, and add 1/4 cup of salt and 2 tablespoons of any vinegar. Mix well.

4) Add the florets to the water in the sink, dunk them under to make sure they are soaked, and leave them for 20 minutes.

5) At the end of the 20 minutes you will see any caterpillars that were in the heads, now floating in the water.

6) Remove the florets and rinse them under a cold tap.

7) If you are going to freeze the florets, steam them for 3 minutes, dry them well, then bag and freeze.

Someone showed me this a few years ago. I realised after trying it that I'd probably been eating a bit of extra protein with my calabrese for some time. The smaller caterpillars are fiendishly difficult to spot.
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So that's why they are so tasty...Don't think I want to try this in case I see what I extras I have been eating.
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What you don't know can't hurt & don't future food suppliers actually breed grubs & insects? Mind not on my list of tasty snacks despite the protein element! I have had roasted witchery grubs done the Aboriginal way but took some mind over matter to take that first bite as cooked or not still looks similar! The crispy skin was nice but the gunk inside was too much for virgin grub eater!
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I do usually try and soak my greens In cold water for ten minutes or so before preparing and cooking to get rid of the obvious insects and often it,s surprising how many small can be flushed out, but apart from this ai take the view that any other lurkers will just get boiled to death and pass through the system unnoticed.

We tend to be of the "you have to eat a peck of dirt before you die" school of thought here!
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I bought a couple of packets of edible insects (Eat Grub brand) and took them to a picnic with friends a few weeks ago. Most people were appalled by the idea of eating crickets but a few were brave enough to try. It was certainly a conversation piece. LOL

The problem is that they didn't taste very nice. I thought they were like bad smoky bacon crisps. If they'd tasted nice it would have been easier to defend the idea that insects are the way to go if we feel the need to eat animal protein.

They were somewhat expensive too - about a fiver for a small pack. I wouldn't buy them again but it was fun to see people's reactions to them.
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I share your feelings ! Probably fun to try out for a Halloween evening but can't really imagine them being food of choice. And can't see them going down well at a posh cocktail party. Best to tell people it's the dried bark of some strange jungle tree or something!

Still, I imagine vegetarians or vegans probably think we meat eaters are equally canibalistic people for eating animals.
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As a vegetarian, I work hard to remove all resident livestock from my produce.
Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.
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Me too! Seeing boiling caterpillars amongst the broccoli tends to put one off!
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At least the caterpillars turn almost white when cooked, so they are easily visible!
I grew all our brassicas in a netting tunnel this year and it was brilliant - no caterpillars, no whitefly, no pigeons.
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