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Cornell Scientist’s Quest: Perfect Broccoli

 And then there’s this: a bitter, rubbery mass that’s starting to turn yellow around the tips, all bumped and bruised from its long trip from the field to the supermarket.

Thomas Bjorkman, a plant scientist at Cornell University, examined the store-bought specimen like a diagnostician, unflinchingly but with a certain compassion.

“It’s soft, almost limp,” he said, prodding one of the heads. “That sharp smell is from the sulfur compounds. Scale of 10, with 10 being broccoli picked the same day you eat it? I’d give this a 2, maybe a 3.”

For all the wonders of fresh broccoli, in most parts of the country it is available from local growers only during the cooler weeks at either end of the growing season, nowhere near long enough to become a fixture in grocery stores or kitchens.

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