Brussels sprouts

 Yes, I know, I know. But I love these baby cabbages, especially after a few frosts. They become a delicacy then at my house. I plant a summer crop for market, but for pure eating pleasure I grow for winter. Nothing I know of that grows above ground can shake off  the cold like Brussels sprouts.

I grow them much the same as broccoli in terms of spacing and rich soil. Harvesting begins about 90 days after planting out. Pick from the bottom up before the little heads loosten and start to turn yellow. Flavor is gone at that point. Just break off the leaf below the sprout and pull the sprout off the stalk. Upper sprouts will continue to grow in the leaf axils.  

You can freeze them, but why bother when you can pick them for so long. Let Mother freeze them. About the only recipe I know of is to soak for 15 minutes in salted water to drive out any bug larvae, then steam or boil until fork tender. Serve with butter, salt and pepper, maybe some sauteed mushrooms. If you have another good recipe, just hit the comment box, and pass it on.

Oh, and never overcook these things, or any brassicas. It kills their nutrient value and flavor. In the case of sprouts, braise them (covered pot, a little water) so they keep their bright green color. If cooked until they darken, they’re compost.

–Peter Fossel at Swan River Farm on Cape Cod

About lifegrower

Peter V. Fossel has been gardening since he was nine, and has been an organic farmer for the last 20 years. His most recent book, “Organic Farming, Everything You Need to know” was published by Voyageur Press, Minneapolis, 2007. He’s written numerous gardening articles for Organic Gardening, Horticulture, Country Journal, Out Here, and American Profile among others. He was Gardens Manager for The Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson in Tennessee before returning to Cape Cod to start his newest organic venture, Swan River Farm in Dennisport, MA.
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4 Responses to Brussels sprouts

  1. Linda Covey says:

    Yummmmmm…I can’t wait.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for the soaking recommendation. We grew them a couple years ago and I couldn’t bring myself to eat them because I was just sure those little green cabbage worms were curled up inside where I couldn’t get them.

  3. Linda Covey says:

    I was just going to try Brussel sprouts for the fall garden, but after reading your blog, I decided that I shouldn’t wait …do it now. So along with my pepper plants, I packed my seeds and brought them with me to Virginia. The grandchildren should enjoy helping me plant them. If the timing is right, there might be some Brussel sprouts for them to taste when they visit us. By the way, so far, my pepper plants have enjoyed the ride.

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