Local Brussels sprouts are in season, and are delicious. These tiny cabbages are easy to prepare, and a great addition to any meal.
Tasty Local Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts have gotten a bad reputation over the years, as they were often cooked poorly, and older varieties were simply not as delicious as they are now. Lately, though, Brussels sprouts popularity is growing.
When cooked properly, local Brussels sprouts can be sweet, nutty, even smoky in flavor. They taste a bit like a cabbage but with a milder flavor.
Your cooked local Brussels sprouts should be crispy on the outside with a soft, tender inside when caramelized. Smaller sprouts are often sweeter than larger ones, but all are delicious.
Raw local Brussels sprouts may be bitter, but can add a tasty note to salads. As they taste like cabbage, they can offer a welcome texture and flavor raw.
Finding Local Brussels Sprouts
Local Brussels sprouts are in season right now, and you can find them both on the stalk or already picked. They aren’t the easiest vegetable to grow, but they can be a fun addition to any garden.
Brussels sprouts are a cultivar of wild cabbage. This Brassica oleracea is the parent of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and kohlrabi, as well as Brussels sprouts. They all are grown and harvested in the cooler parts of the year.
Brussels sprouts are sweeter after a light frost, so they are best grown for fall harvest. They have a long growing season, which works well in Maryland.
When growing sprouts in your garden, our climate is mild enough so we can mulch them in place and harvest over time rather than having to pull the plants before a frost.
If you buy local Brussels sprouts, look for those still on the stalk. They last longer!
The Brussels sprouts stalk is about 30 inches long, thick, with many leaves stemming out from the stalk. The sprouts themselves grow right along the stalk, under the leaves.
Leaves are edible as well, so don’t waste them. Look to adding them to soups or cooking up as greens.
Varieties of Local Brussels Sprouts
Possibly owing to their poor reputation, Brussels sprouts only come in green, and rarely purple varieties. You won’t see fancy shapes or colors like cabbage or broccolis.
The growing popularity of Brussels sprouts may lead to more varieties in the future, but they are certainly tasty no matter what.
When growing Brussels sprouts, look towards a variety that matches your growing season and size requirements. At the market, you’ll probably only see green sprouts.
Preserving Local Brussels Sprouts
When buying local Brussels sprouts, look for firm, bright green sprouts. If already picked, store them in your crisper drawer in a container.
Brussels sprouts can last a week or more in the fridge, but the flavor is best within a few days of purchase. Buying local Brussels sprouts means fresher sprouts, so you may be able to keep them longer.
If you buy your local Brussels sprouts on the stalk, you can store it in a root cellar for up to a month. Keep them as cold and humid as you can indoors if you don’t have a root cellar.
The best way to preserve Brussels sprouts is right in your garden! Cover the plants with 10 to 12 inches of mulch before a hard freeze. This keeps them at an even temperature.
Frozen Brussels sprouts won’t roast quite as well as fresh, but they are still good. I’d recommend cutting them before freezing them if roasting is your plan.
Cooking Local Brussels Sprouts
The best way to turn from a Brussels sprouts hater into a Brussels sprouts lover is to roast them. That means trimming, cutting in half, adding olive oil and salt and pepper, then roasting at 425F until done, about 20-25 minutes.
Leftover roasted sprouts are also delicious, but will lose the crunchy exterior when reheated.
Sauteing Brussels sprouts is a good alternative as well. The goal is to caramelize the exterior, so don’t overload your pan. Grilling them on skewers works too!
Your local Brussels sprouts will be amazing with nothing more than oil and salt and pepper. To change it up, try any of these options when cooking your sprouts:
- chili flakes and garlic
- butter and lemon juice
- bacon or other flavorful meat
- sweeten with honey, maple syrup, or fruit juice
- add some balsamic vinegar
- mix in some parmesan cheese
- roast with other vegetables
- add in dried fruit and nuts
Raw Brussels sprouts can be great in salads. Try this Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad recipe to see how you like them raw!
Local Brussels Sprouts Trivia
Why are they called Brussels sprouts? Why not baby cabbages? Brussels sprouts are named for Brussels, Belgium. They have been enjoyed there since the 14th century.
Don’t overcook your sprouts! If they smell like sulfur, they have been overcooked. That said, you want them smelling almost burned when you roast them.
If you haven’t liked Brussels sprouts before, I encourage you to try them again. They are becoming trendy appetizers and side dishes in restaurants, so try them there first!
Roasting Brussels sprouts is really easy to do. Buy some locally, add them to your meal plan, and enjoy!