It looks like something out of a science fiction movie but don’t be fooled by this broccoli’s birthday suit.
This iconic variety, which stems from Sicily in Italy, has an interesting story to tell with an ancient mathematical link.
And thanks to Oakhampton farmer Austin Breiner, who is a curious character when it comes to unusual vegetables, it’s being served up across the city through the Slow Food Earth Markets Maitland.
“See how it goes like a snail, see that curve?,” he says, pointing closely at the top of a stem.“That’s a fibonacci spiral – that’s the design of it, and it’s a mathematical term.”
The iconic variety, called Romanesco Broccoli, has been around for many years.
People have described it as mini Christmas trees that taste even better than broccoli. That’s some good news for kids who aren’t keen on eating greens. Perhaps this yellow variety could become a trend setter.
Mr Breiner thinks it has a lot of potential.
“We’ve almost sold out of them and we’ve only been here for a bit over an hour,” he said.
The romanesco can be paired with bold flavours and looks fancy when it is mixed through a salad.
Adding salt and olive oil to it, and baking it, will also help to bring out the flavour.
If it’s been overcooked it will use its unique shape.
“We steam them, or you can break some off and put it in a stir fry,” Mr Breiner said.“If it was me I’d put some cheese on it, I love putting cheese on everything.”
It’s the first time Mr Breiner has grown this heirloom variety.
“It’s relatively easy to grow, I’ve also grown the purple cauliflower which is another heirloom variety.
“People love them, it’s something a bit different for them to try,” he said. “You can eat the stems as well.”
The crop has also given him an interesting insight into his soil quality.
“See how these leaves are twisted like that? That’s a sign of molybdenum deficiency in the soil,” Mr Breiner said.
“It means they won’t grow bigger, like they would have if there wasn’t that deficiency.
“I’ll have to buy some chook manure or super phosphate with molybdenum in it to overcome that deficiency.
“The east coast of Australia is deficient in copper and if you put too much molybdenum in the soil it compresses the amount of copper that is there, so I’ve got get the balance right.”
The Slow Food Earth Markets Maitland is held in The Levee on the first and third Thursday of the month between 2pm and 6pm. The next market is scheduled for September 21.
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