When improperly prepared, steamed broccoli can be unpleasantly mushy and almost slimy with an odd, slightly bitter flavor. This does not need to be the case, however. If you steam broccoli correctly, it will have a more vibrant flavor and a firm, crisp texture. The process for steaming broccoli is not difficult, and doing it correctly actually takes less time than making the mushy version you may be used to. The key is in the timing, and your broccoli will give you a striking visual clue when it is perfectly done.
Put an inch of water into the bottom of a pot, then put a steaming basket into the pot. Turn on the heat to high to bring the water to a boil.
Wash your broccoli thoroughly, then cut or break it into pieces that are bite-sized or slightly larger. These pieces steam more quickly than whole broccoli stalks and will be less likely to become mushy in some places before the thicker parts cook completely.
Put the broccoli pieces into the steaming basket, then reduce the heat to low or medium-low. The water should maintain a gentle simmer, but not boil briskly. Cover the pot.
Open the pot after 4 minutes and check on the broccoli by stabbing it with a fork. If it is tender yet somewhat firm and brighter green than it was when you put it in the pot, it is probably done. If it is still hard and its original shade of green, put the lid back on the pot and continue steaming the broccoli. Check every minute or so until the broccoli is done to your liking. Immediately remove the pot from the heat and the broccoli from the pot to stop the cooking process. Your broccoli pieces may take up to 10 minutes to finish steaming. If you cook the broccoli for too long, it will go from bright green to grayish green and develop that undesirable mushiness.
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Morgan O'Connor has been writing professionally since 2005. Her experience includes articles on various aspects of the health-insurance industry for health-care newsletters distributed to hospitals as well as articles on both international and domestic travel.