Brussels sprouts are said to have been cultivated by Ancient Rome but gained true popularity in 16th century Belgium. They are common in many northern European cuisines. As a member of the cabbage family, they have a slight sulfur taste that will become very strong when overcooked. Sprouts are best enjoyed roasted, sauteed, steamed, or raw massaged with a little olive oil. Brussels sprouts taste great when paired with bacon, parmesan, acidic flavors of balsamic vinegar or lemon, or any variety of toasted nut.
Brussels sprouts are a nutrition powerhouse! These properties are best maintained by avoiding boiling as a cooking method. Research is ongoing into the protective effects of brussels sprouts' phytochemicals against cancer, cardiovascular disease, and oxidative stress. Many of these benefits come from the sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates. About 1.5 cups of sprouts contains 1/3 of your daily need for anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
- Fiber important for digestive health and keeps you feeling full
- Vitamin C important for immune system, healthy skin, and wound healing
- Vitamin K important for blood clotting
- Biotin promotes healthy hair, skin, and nails
- Folate important for preventing neural tube defects and may help prevent cancer
- Potassium helps lower blood pressure and helps muscles contract
- Iron important in red blood cell formation
How to Shop
Brussels sprouts can be found fresh in the produce section on the stalk, in netted bags, or in steam-ready plastic bags. Sprouts purchased at the store are already ripe and ready to use. Look for small, bright green sprouts with compact heads. Avoid sprouts with dry, yellow outer leaves - though these can just be pulled off. Smaller sprouts will be more tender in texture. Brussels sprouts are in season late August through March.
How to Grow
Seeds should be planted in peat pots about 3-4 weeks before transplanting to bigger containers or the ground. It is safest to transplant between August 20th and September 20th in Houston. When the lower leaves start to yellow, pinch off the new buds on top and allow the sprouts to grow. Sprouts are ready when they are compact and 1-1.5 inches in diameter, about 3 months after planting.
How to Store
- Store unwashed sprouts in an airtight plastic bag in the refrigerator for 7-10 days. To freeze, first blanch the sprouts then dry completely. Place in freezer on a sheet pan so that no sprouts are touching. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer safe bag and use within a year.