Happy Friday, Grow Appalachia cohort! Holly from HQ, here to share a little bit about brassicas. I was on vacation earlier this week so if what you read seems a bit nonsensical or goofy, it might be because part of my brain is still in sunny Florida. Also, 40s for a high this weekend? Not cool, Mother Nature. Not cool.

Brassicas, cruciferous vegetables, or cole crops, are nicknames for the vegetable family Brassicaceae, which are mustards, mustard greens, crucifers, and cabbages. Brassicas also contain antioxidants and minerals that apparently contain cancer-fighting properties, called glucosinolates.

Now is right around the time for brassicas to be planted or seeded if you want an early summer harvest, so below are a few options that you can plant (or try):

  1. Broccoli: Provides Vitamin C and B6. Try it raw with hummus or another dip, or throw it in a stir-fry. I personally love eating broccoli this way. (mild language warning, but it really is fantastic)
  2. Kale: They say that kale is the “new superfood”. Um, yeah, because it’s awesome! Chock-full of vitamins A and C, as well as iron, fiber, and magnesium, try kale in a smoothie, as an addition to a mixed greens salad, or sauteed.
  3. Turnips: I honestly didn’t know that turnips were part of the brassica family! (You really do learn something new every day). Turnips are loaded with vitamin C and fiber. Add them to a soup or stew, or try them mashed!
  4. Cabbage: Red or green, cabbages come in a plethora of sizes and you can eat it raw, sauteed, or as a substitution for a wrap- think lettuce wraps. P.S. Did you know that if you plant red varieties of cabbage, they’re more resistant to pests?

And here’s a few that maybe you haven’t tried before…

  1. Cauliflower: Similar to broccoli, cauliflower contains potassium and vitamin C. It’s not a popular pick among our Grow Appalachia growers, but give it a try! You can eat it raw, mashed, or roasted, or ground to make a low-calorie pizza crust! Yes…cauliflower pizza crust! Mark, our technical director, mentioned this morning that his wife recently made some cauliflower mashed “potatoes”, except without the potatoes- he said he liked them better than actual mashed potatoes!
  2. Brussels sprouts: These small cabbage-like sprouts get a lot of bad press, primarily among those individuals in the 5-18 age range. But please promise me something, readers, if you haven’t tried them roasted, please do yourself a favor! You will be converted! They contain good-for-you vitamin C, fiber, and potassium.
  3. Kohlrabi: If you subscribe to a CSA or co-op, you’ve probably received one of these in your boxes before. Sometimes referred to as German cabbage, kohlrabi resembles a smaller turnip and can be eaten both raw or cooked. Kohlrabi has all the same nutrients as brussels sprouts.

So now that I’ve whet your appetites a bit (mine included), check out a few varieties below from High Mowing Seed Company:

Farao F1 cabbage– green

Impala F1 cabbage– storage

Deadon F1 cabbage– winter, sweetens after a frost or snow

Belstar F1 broccoli

Meadowlark kale– long, tight-curled leaves

White and Red Russian kale– fast growth

Siberian kale– fast growth, good size and tenderness


To wrap up, I mentioned earlier that brassicas are notorious for being ridiculously healthy.  It turns out that that’s not really an exaggeration. To prepare for writing this blog, we were sent an article from The Atlantic, “Broccoli Loves Us.”  The author, an MD who writes a monthly health column for the journal, cites a Cancer Prevention Research journal article that shows a study conducted by scientists at Johns Hopkins found that daily consumption of a specialty “broccoli sprouts beverage” aids in the breakdown and excretion of benzene, a pollutant that has known carcinogenic effects.  The full article is posted below.  All the more reason to eat your veggies!

Lastly, I found this great article (also posted below) from an interview with a cookbook author, Laura B. Russell, and her book “Brassicas: Cooking the World’s Healthiest Vegetables.” This quote particularly stuck out to me:

“I think these vegetables are having a moment…the spectrum of flavors represented by the brassicas makes them one of the most compelling groups of vegetables to cook.”

She goes on to list cabbage as the most “underrated”, in terms of versatility and flavor, and suggests, for brassica newbies, the simple act of roasting, instead of boiling or smothering in some kind of cheese sauce (Hmm…I still love broccoli and cheese, though). Remember that “magic” broccoli from earlier?  I’m also really getting into cabbage as well- YUM! You can find the aforementioned cookbook here on Amazon.

What’s your favorite brassica? Share your affinity for kale, kohlrabi, cabbage, or whatever, and until next time, happy planting…and eating! 🙂


One tiny broccoli bud


Sources/Further Reading:

Brassica Vegetables from Huffington Post

Varieties from Sandiwood Farm- High Mowing Blog

“Broccoli Loves Us” from The Atlantic

Brassicas: It’s Not Just about Kale!