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How should broccoli be checked for bugs?

by by OUKosher.org

  

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Question:


Is there a way I can check fresh or cooked broccoli to know it is clean of infestation? --Simcha the Cook


Answer:


Broccoli, Fresh
DESCRIPTION:  Broccoli is a green vegetable resembling a miniature tree. Its thick central stem divides into many smaller branches, which are crowned with tightly clustered green florets.


INFESTATION:  Broccoli may be infested with a variety of insects, most prominently aphids and thrips. The aphids are green or white, but will often turn brown during the parboiling (partial cooking) that is done to prepare the vegetable for inspection (see Inspection, below). The thrips are usually black or gray.


Also present at times is the broccoli worm, a thin white or light greenish worm of about a half inch’s length. This worm, when present, is difficult to discern because it looks like one of the thin stems.


Our research has indicated that infestation levels of broccoli grown domestically (USA, Canada, but not Mexico) vary by season. During the winter months, (approximately November through March), infestation level is around 10%. Broccoli grown during this season should be inspected. During the summer months (the remaining seven months of the year), broccoli can be heavily infested, and inspection is often impractical. Broccoli from Mexico is infested throughout the year. It is primarily used for frozen broccoli products.


INSPECTION:  When checking broccoli, a well-lit area should be chosen. This aids in discerning an insect from the floret pieces.  It should be noted that cleaning infested broccoli is not feasible. The purpose of inspection is to determine if the broccoli is infested. Once infestation is detected, the floret portion of the head must be discarded. One cannot be certain that all insects will be discovered and removed. However, the stem portion may be separated, washed and consumed.


Fresh broccoli-stems
Broccoli stems may be used after a thorough washing. No further checking is necessary.


Fresh broccoli-whole
1. It is virtually impossible to perform a comprehensive inspection on raw broccoli. Parboil the broccoli for ten seconds to soften the florets and stems. An additional benefit of parboiling is that aphids often turn from green to brown and the florets from light to dark lush green. The contrast of colors makes the insects more easily detectable after this process.  Submerge in cold water immediately after parboiling to preserve the flavor and firmness of the vegetable.
2. It is important to segregate each head individually when processing more than one head of broccoli. If a section of a broccoli head shows infestation, the entire head must be discarded.
3. Inspect each floret section:


a) Look carefully at the under part (i.e., the branched area) of each floret. It is important to check the Y-shaped crevice between the branches.


b) Spread each floret head apart and look inside the floret from the top down (i.e., through the green flower buds, into the branch area).


4. If one OR two insects are found, special care should be taken in examining the remaining sections of that broccoli head. Should a total of three insects be found, either in a particular section or spread among different sections of the same broccoli head, the entire head should be discarded.


Alternative method:


1. While parboiling the broccoli as described above, agitate the vegetable in the boiling water and bang it against the side of the pot several times.


2. After removing the broccoli and submerging it in cold water, check a sampling of the parboiled water in a glass bowl over a light box.


3. If insects appear in the water, each floret must be checked meticulously.


4. If no insects appear in the water, the broccoli may be used after running a strong stream of water through the head from top to bottom and from bottom to top.


Beware: Insects like company. If even one insect is found, the entire head must be checked most scrupulously.


Please note that erudite displays should not include raw broccoli due to the impossibility of properly checking raw broccoli


Republished with permission from www.oukosher.org


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