Be on the Lookout for Broccoli Worms

Little worms on my broccoli.

Fifteen or twenty years ago, I was having dinner with a friend.  On the menu was steamed broccoli.  We were eating, and I noticed that something in my broccoli moved.  Upon further investigation, it was a small green worm.  Needless to say, I did not clean my plate.  I just thought my friend had not washed the broccoli properly.

Since then, I have been diligent about thoroughly washing my broccoli.  I run it under hot water, separating the florets and allowing the hot water to make its way through the crowns.

A few weeks ago I had a friend over for dinner.  On the menu were pork tenderloin, sweet potatoes, and steamed broccoli.  All was well underway, with the clean broccoli separated into florets and in the steamer.   I had opened the lid and was checking to see if the broccoli was tender when I noticed what I thought might be one of those worms.  I looked closer and found LOTS of worms.  I did not serve the broccoli that night.

The next week, while I was at the store, I inspected the fresh broccoli and found that it all had worms!  They are the same color as the broccoli which makes them difficult to see.

I have researched these worms (there are actually several possible kinds that hide in the broccoli, but to me, they are all worms!), and find that they are common.  Some people don’t mind eating them, so any that remain after washing get prepared along with the broccoli.

It seems that the most common way to clean broccoli in order to remove any worms is by soaking the broccoli florets in a warm saltwater bath for 10 or 20 minutes to get the worms to release.  There are other variations to this, such as adding vinegar or flour or using cold or hot water, but the rationale for the warm water (gets the worms to release instead of hold on tighter) makes sense to me.


Even though some folks are okay with eating the broccoli worms, I don’t want to.  I also would be embarrassed to serve worms along with broccoli to my dinner guests.  I know that it is predicted that someday we will all be eating crickets and worms because they are a good source of protein and aren’t harmful to the environment, but until I don’t have a choice, I will refrain from eating worms!

Now the words to the song Nobody Likes Me (Guess I’ll Go Eat Worms) keeps running through my head!

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