Why You Never See Broccoli In A Can

As you wander the canned goods aisle, it's hard not to be amazed by the sheer number of different vegetables that have made their way inside a tin. You expect to see canned corn of both the niblet and creamed variety. Canned carrots, beans (green and yellow), and mushrooms are commonplace too. Seasoned collard greens, diced rutabagas, and grape leaves come in tins, too (via Self).

One green staple, however, seems to be missing from the mix — broccoli. Canned veggie fans can't help but wonder why. According to Statista, the average American ate roughly 5.2 pounds of this bushy-headed vegetable in 2021. Eat This, Not That! says that a poll conducted for Bolthouse Farms shows that broccoli is the nation's favorite vegetable, with 70% of respondents liking it. Identified as a "superfood," broccoli offers many health benefits including sizable amounts of cancer-fighting antioxidants, bone-strengthening calcium, immune system-supporting vitamin C, and gut-healthy fiber (per Medical News Today). And it's a versatile veggie that can be used cooked or raw in a variety of dishes. 

Yes, broccoli is clearly popular produce in the American culinary landscape. Why, then, is "canned broccoli" absent from grocery store shelves? The answer will likely astonish you. 

Canned broccoli wouldn't resemble broccoli at all

The truth is that if it were possible to can broccoli, someone would likely be doing it. Unfortunately, the nature of this cruciferous piece of green does not allow for it. In order to safely can your produce, it must go through a process that involves a great deal of boiling liquid and extreme heat. Spoon University explains that broccoli morphs into a mushy pulp during the boiling process and that even the bits that survive the initial round of boiling will not remain intact after the heat-sealing. 

Even if manufacturers could find a way to can the sturdier broccoli stalks in a presentable fashion, no one really wants the stalks (via Mental Floss). It's the florets that people crave and these will always turn to a pile of green nothingness. As Reader's Digest explains, the squishy consistency wouldn't be the only problem. Canning broccoli would dramatically alter its color and its already questionable odor. Picture a greyish-green slurry that smells like a septic tank. Yes, canned broccoli would be an assault on all of your senses. 

It seems that for the foreseeable future you will have to head to the fresh produce department or the frozen foods aisle for your broccoli fix. At least what you'll get still looks, tastes, and smells like the cruciferous veggie you've come to know and love. And if you're craving it now, here are some broccoli recipes the whole family will love.