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CHEFS In Season Featuring Brussels Sprouts: Brussels Sprouts Recipes, Tips, Informaion and more from CHEFS Catalog.
Featured Brussels Sprouts Recipes
About Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are probably the most avoided vegetable in the nation. Asking a random group of people what their favorite vegetable is, never once is Brussels sprouts mentioned but it will usually make the least-liked list. But selected, stored and cooked correctly, the Brussels sprout has a delicate, nutty flavor with no resemblance to childhood memories. A wonderful compliment to Thanksgiving and holiday meals, Brussels sprouts are worthy of another try. We promise, they are better than you may remember.

Brief History of Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are related to other better-known vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. They are part of the cruciferous or mustard family, so known because of a four-part flower in the shape of a cross.

Sprouts were believed to have been cultivated in Italy in Roman times, and possibly as early as the 1200s in Belgium. The modern Brussels sprout that we are familiar with were first cultivated in large quantities in Belgium (hence the name "Brussels" sprouts) as early as 1587. Some famous botanists, as late as the 17th century, referred to it only as something they had heard about but had never seen. Brussels sprouts are believed to have been first introduced into the U.S. in the 1800s.

Brussels sprouts are a hardy, slow-growing, long-season vegetable though newer hybrids have greatly reduced the growing time. This vegetable needs a long, cool growing season, like that of northern Europe and the British Isles. Most of the crop grown in America is produced on Long Island, New York. In the proper season of the year, it can be grown with fair success in most areas of the country. In mild areas, or where there is deep snow cover, the sprouts may overwinter.

The small head "sprouts" resemble miniature cabbages and are produced in the leaf axils, starting at the base of the stem and working upward. Sprouts improve in quality and grow best during cool or even lightly frosty weather.

Nutritional Info for Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are a very good source of many essential vitamins, fiber, and folate. They are especially high in Vitamin C. They, along with their other cruciferous cousins, have been shown to have some very beneficial effects against certain types of cancer, as they contain many different ingredients that are believed to help prevent the disease.

Varieties of Brussels Sprouts

There are several different varieties of hybrid Brussels sprouts. Some of the original varieties developed, particularly Jade Cross, had several characteristics that were desirable, though they tasted rather bitter. The current varieties have an improved taste, and some are almost sweet.

The first variety of the season in the U.S. is a hand-picked variety called Confidant. Confidant is a medium green color, and has a fairly mild taste. This variety is harvested from late June through early October. The late season varieties are Genius and Cobus, and they are available from December through January. These varieties are used because of their better tolerance of the winter weather. Other varieties include:

  • Bubbles—produces dependable sprouts that tolerate warm weather
  • Jade Cross E—produces larger sprouts that are easier to remove from the stalk than Jade Cross
  • Oliver—easy-to-pick and produces attractive sprouts
  • Prince Marvel—produces tight, sweet sprouts
  • Royal Marvel—tight sprouts and very productive
  • Valiant—produces smooth, uniform sprouts

How to Select Brussels Sprouts

At their fullest growth Brussels sprouts scarcely exceed the size of a large walnut. And remember, the fresher the better, when it comes to selecting spouts for cooking. Choose firm compact sprouts that are bright green in color. Fresh Brussels sprouts should be displayed chilled. If they are kept at room temperature, their leaves will turn yellow quickly. Yellow or wilted leaves are signs of age or mishandling. Old sprouts also have a strong, cabbage-like odor. It is best to choose sprouts individually from bulk displays rather than pint or quart tubs. Choose small, firm, compact sprouts with unblemished leaves. Select sprouts that are similar in size: this will allow them to cook more evenly. Avoid sprouts that are puffy or soft.
How to Store Brussels Sprouts

Do not wash or trim sprouts before storing them, but yellow or wilted outer leaves should be remove. If you have purchased sprouts that have been packaged in a cellophane-covered container, take off wrapping, examine them, remove any that are in bad condition, return them to container, re-cover with cellophane, and refrigerate. Place loose sprouts in perforated plastic bag. Fresh sprouts will keep for 3–5 days. The fresher the sprouts, the better the flavor; so refrigerator storage should not exceed a day or two.

How to Prepare Brussels Sprouts for Cooking

Most Americans who do not like Brussels sprouts are haunted by childhood memories of smelly, army green, bitter, mushy globs that had to be eaten before dessert. Fresh Brussels sprouts, properly cooked, are deliciously delicate in flavor.

Before cooking, remove any damaged or irregular outer leaves. The key to cooking Brussels sprouts is in not overcooking them. The leaves cook faster than the core, so cut an X in the bottom of the stem for even cooking when cooking the sprouts whole. As a rule, when Brussels sprouts have lost the bright green color, they are overcooked and have lost a considerable amount of nutritional value as well. Depending on size, cooking time should not exceed 7 to 10 minutes weather you are steaming, braising, boiling or roasting. Select sprouts of even size for uniform cooking. Large sprouts should be cut in half.


Use one cup water for every cup of Brussels sprouts. Bring water to a rapid boil in a large pot, add sprouts, and quickly return the water to a boil. Cook sprout until just tender then drain sprouts.


Place 1/2 pound of sprouts in a microwave-safe dish; add 1/4 cup water, cover and cook. Cook medium sized sprouts 4 minutes and larger ones 8 minutes.


Sprouts can be steamed rapidly in a small amount of water. This will minimize the odors created when Brussels sprouts are cooked too long, and will also minimize nutrient loss. There are two ways that they can be steamed. Sprouts can be added to an inch of already-boiling water or can be placed in a covered vegetable steamer. After steaming for 1–2 minutes, uncover pot for 10–15 seconds to disperse the strong-tasting sulfur compounds. Re-cover pot, and continue cooking sprouts for 5–10 minutes in boiling water or 6–12 minutes in a steamer. Check them periodically by poking them with a fork to test for doneness. Cook them until they are just tender.


Slice sprouts in half, and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. For an extra kick, sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet, and roast at 425 F for 5-8 minutes or until just tender.

Home Preservation

The best home preservation method for Brussels sprouts is freezing. As with any vegetable, Brussels sprouts will need to be blanched prior to freezing:
  • Select firm, young, tender heads. Examine heads carefully to make sure they are free from insects.
  • Trim, removing coarse outer leaves. Wash thoroughly. Sort into small, medium and large sizes.
  • Over high heat, bring one gallon of water to a rolling boil in a blanching pot. Blanch one pound of Brussels sprouts at a time. Start counting blanching time as soon as the water returns to a boil.
  • Blanch small heads 3 minutes, medium heads 4 minutes and large heads 5 minutes.
  • vTo cool, plunge the blanching basket of Brussels sprouts into an ice water bath. Use one pound of ice per pound of vegetables in one gallon of water.
  • Cooling should take the same amount of time as blanching, depending on the size of the heads.
  • Drain, pack into zip-closure bags or freezer containers, label and date. Freeze for up to one year at zero degrees or below.

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