Fresh Vegetables vs Canned

Fresh BroccoliCredit: © PegCole17Most of the vegetables we ate when I grew up either came from a can or were the frozen kind from Green Giant. When I moved out on my own, I learned about the nutritional value of fresh produce and began to explore a variety of recipes for preparing fresh vegetables. Cooking raw vegetables is not only easy, but the improved taste made a huge difference in convincing my young son to eat things like broccoli and cauliflower.

When I discovered cooking with a metal steamer, it opened an entire new world of preparation. Timing is key when preparing meals. To get everything on the dinner plate at the same time requires a bit of planning. Broccoli is easy to keep warm as it waits in the covered pan over hot water while the rest of your meal finishes cooking.

Cooking in a Metal Steamer

Vegetable steamerCredit: © PegCole17This collapsible metal steamer takes up little space in the cabinet and is handy to steam a variety of raw food. They can be found at the grocery store, eBay or at Amazon. I own two of these which I bought long ago.

Metal steamers are versatile and work beautifully whether you're cooking broccoli, cauliflower, carrots or other raw produce. I've also used mine to cook frozen shrimp and the results were fantastic. Even frozen veggies turn out nicely when steamed. It's a great investment that you'll actually use and which will last you for many years.

Equipment That You'll Use for Years

Medium Sized SaucepanCredit: © PegCole17The steamer should fit easily in a medium sized saucepan with a tight fitting lid. This Revere Ware copper bottom pan was a wedding gift that has stood the test of time and remained beautiful since the late sixties.

All that's required to keep the copper bottom shiny and clean is a sprinkling of Barkeeper's Friend and a light rubbing with a regular sponge. The inside of the pan can be cleaned with a quick scrubbing using an S.O.S. or a Brillo pad, even when food sticks or overcooks.

Choosing Raw Produce

Trimming BroccoliCredit: © PegCole17There are a variety of choices when it comes to selecting raw produce. Sometimes it's quicker and easier to take a little help from the grocery store and use prepackaged fresh raw broccoli. This is usually found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store in the produce area.

We do a lot of shopping at stores like Costco and Sam's where bags of prepackaged produce are economically priced, already triple washed and ready to cook. This saves a volume of time and effort in preparation.

Placing the Vegetable in the Steamer

Broccoli in a metal steamerCredit: © PegCole17If you want to take the time to buy broccoli in bulk, it's not difficult to separate the stalks from the bunch with a sharp knife. Trim off excess ends of the stalk and remove any wilted leaves as you would for fresh flowers. Our family doesn't particularly like the chewy stalk, but it is edible and can be chopped smaller and steamed until it becomes soft.

Once you've trimmed the produce the way you like it, arrange the florets on the metal steamer one layer deep. I like to put all the cut ends of the stalks facing toward the metal but that's not really necessary.

Cooked BroccoliCredit: © PegCole17Add a small amount of water to the sauce pan and lower the filled vegetable steamer down snugly inside. The water should be shallow enough not to allow the broccoli to soak in the water. About an inch of water is usually enough to create a steam bath when it begins to boil.

Cover the pan with a snug fitting lid and place it over medium to medium high heat. Watch the process carefully to note when the water begins to boil underneath the steamer. It generally takes between five to eight minutes to cook, depending on your preferences of texture and firmness. You can steam the veggies longer for softer results or shorter if you prefer your veggies to have a firm texture.

When is it Done?

Nutrition ChartOnce you've prepared steamed broccoli a couple of times, you'll know when your broccoli is done by its smell and bright green color.

Your family may not realize the possible cancer preventing and antioxidant effects of broccoli, but they'll enjoy this tasty side dish that's so easy to prepare. Kids will eat more of this healthy green vegetable if you pour a nice cheese sauce over the top.

Broccoli has been around for at least 2,000 years, and was considered a valuable food source even as far back as the Roman empire. It's rich in fiber, Vitamin K, Vitamin A and Vitamin E. One serving of cooked broccoli provides 303% of the daily requirement of Vitamin C which is even more than orange juice.

Revere 1400 Line 3-Quart Covered Saucepan
Amazon Price: $31.03 $21.99 Buy Now
(price as of Nov 17, 2014)
I have a set of these copper bottom pans that have served me well for over forty years. They make a great Christmas or Wedding gift for a new household.