Hi there! We are Brussels sprouts and we want to be your friend! We know that some people don’t like us very much, but that is because they don’t know how awesome we are. You see, most of the time we're not cooked right so you can't expect us to taste wonderful. However, if we're cooked well, we have a sweet slightly nutty flavour and are just crunchy.
Us sprouts are just brimming with vitamins and minerals and are so good for you! Now let me tell you more about my family.
We're part of the Brassica (cabbage) family. We look like tiny cabbages and grow on a tall stemmed plant. We’re about the size of a ping pong ball, the smaller we are the sweeter we taste. Our leaves overlap and tightly enclose our smaller inside leaves and core. Our colour varies from dark green through to a vibrant purplish green. Purple sprouts are new on the block!
We grow along the stem of our parent plant in the area where the leaves attach and as our parent grows, more and more of us are formed. If the lower leaves are removed then more of us will develop.
While you can buy us for most of the year, we're most abundant from May to July when it’s cold and less plentiful from October to January when it’s a bit too hot for us.
In Australia, we're not sold by variety. Just look for Brussels sprouts in your greengrocer. Keep your eye open for the newer purple sprouts.
We prefer a long cool growing season to a hot humid climate. It can take 13-16 weeks after planting our parent seedlings before we're mature enough to harvest. Those of us at the bottom of the plant mature first and it may take a farmer up to 10 pickings per plant to have fully harvested all of us.
We're harvested by hand to avoid damage and also to ensure that only mature sprouts are picked.
To pick the best of us, select those that are firm, compact, bright green and no larger than a ping pong ball.
Store us unwashed in a recyclable plastic bag in the veggie crisper in your fridge. We’re best eaten within 3 days.
It's not known where we originated from. Some plant historians say we were grown in Belgium in the 16th century, but it wasn't until the middle of the 18th century that records showed we were used as a food. As people travelled, they took us with them, and we were being eaten in England and France by the start of the 19th century. It has only been in recent times that we've become more popular in Australia.
There are many ways to cook Brussels sprouts. The key is not to overcook us! Overcooking sprouts can give them an unpleasant smell and us sprouts don’t like that!
Pull off tough outer leaves and trim the stem but not too short or the leaves will fall off. Cut a small cross at the end of the stem for more even cooking. Rinse in cold water and dry.
We can be shredded and eaten raw in salads but are usually cooked and served as a vegetable.
Slice or quarter sprouts and toss into your favourite stir-fry.
Roasting sprouts brings out their natural sweetness and gives them crispy goodness.
You can also quickly steam, boil, or microwave sprouts until just tender, about 4-5 minutes depending on their size.
You will just love these brilliant Brussels sprouts recipes from Sydney Markets;