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Broccoli Sprout Seeds – Raab/Rapini vs Normal

It had been pointed out in the comments on a separate post, that a number of broccoli seed retailers are, in fact, selling “Rapini/Raab/Rabe” seeds – marketed as regular broccoli speeds.

For those of us looking to buy broccoli sprouts, to then seed for their sulforafane content, this is a problem.

They’re actually a different family of brassicas than broccoli – despite looking vaguely similar when fully grown.

Until research says otherwise, we don’t know if they contain sulforaphane, so is worth watching out for (to avoid) when buying seeds.

The sprout house seeds I’ve linked to in a previous post, according to the seller, are “usually the cultivar Calabrese” (link) – which is a regular broccoli type that will contain sulforaphane.

Out of curiosity I bought both seed types (normal broccoli and Raab), *in case* it was possible to visually tell the difference between the unsprouted seeds (it’s very hard).

Click image to view full size. Seeds on the left come from Raab, the right two are different cultivars of “regular” broccoli. The main differences I could tell between the seeds (and I admit it’s very minimal), is that the Raab seeds are more uniformly dark (vs lighter browns for the others), and they are more uniformly smaller.


Above: Raab Seeds


Above: Cezar “Regular Broccoli”

Above: Tenderstem (Atlantis-F1) – “Regular Broccoli”


Whilst this was a worthy little experiment, I think you’ll agree that the differences between seeds are minuscule, and it’s virtually impossible to tell the difference between the regular broccoli seeds and Raab seeds. Especially when you take into account the natural variation in broccoli cultivars. For example, above Tenderstem seeds vary slightly from the Cezar seeds.

What this ultimately means is that we have to trust the retailers, and make sure we double check on what cultivar they’re selling – making sure it’s not Rapini/Raab (which, as mentioned, is of a different family than broccoli).

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