The vegetables we know and love today are the result of thousands of years of careful cultivation. This can be done either by planting only the seeds from plants that exhibit desired characteristics, but creating new varieties must be done by crossing multiple existing varieties.
The broccoletti in this week’s box (broccolini is a trademarked type of the same vegetable) is actually a cross between regular broccoli and gai larn, a related Asian vegetable that is eaten more for the stem than the floret, and was first developed in Japan. Both broccoli and gai larn are brassica – to successfully cross plants, like animals, they need to be the same species. The Sundowner apples in this week’s box are also a cross, in this case between Golden Delicious and Lady Williams apples, which are also the parents of the Pink Lady variety, which demonstrates that crossing the same two varieties of plant doesn’t always result in the same outcome.
Both Broccoletti and Sundowner apples are combinations of clearly related plants, but swede is a cross between two vegetables that are more difficult to see the connection between: cabbage and turnip. They both share the characteristic mustardy flavour that gives away the fact that they’re actually both brassicae – turnip is cultivated for the root and cabbage is cultivated for the leaves, but they’re actually from the same species.