In Season: Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts were the vegetable my little brother and I were always threatened with if we complained about the broccoli we were served. I avoided them until I was in my 30s, but there’s no reason for you to make the same mistake! Properly prepared, they are quite tasty and a great source of nutrients.

Brussels sprouts belong to the cruciferous vegetable family, along with kale, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, and they resemble tiny cabbages. Harvested when they are about an inch and a half in diameter, they grow best in cooler climates and are often considered a stock winter vegetable in the Northern Hemisphere.

Pick Brussels sprouts that are bright green, compact, and firm to the touch. These should be refrigerated, both in the store and at home. Avoid wilted sprouts or those with yellowing leaves, and pass on sprouts with a strong odor; these are all signs of age and/or mishandling. Brussels sprouts can be stored in the fridge for up to five days, but don’t wash them before storing.

Brussels sprouts are a fantastic source of vitamins C and K; in fact, those taking anticoagulents shouldn’t consume large quantities of Brussels sprouts, as vitamin K is a blood-clotting factor. B vitamins such as folic acid and vitamin B6 are also present in decent amounts, as are iron and manganese.

Pictures courtesy of Pixabay.

There are lots of ways to prepare Brussels sprouts, but roasting and grilling tend to be popular, as those methods decrease the sprouts’ characteristic odor. Ensure even cooking by selecting a bunch of sprouts that are all similar in size. You can also slice the sprouts thinly and mix them in with greens to make a salad. Do be careful not to overcook Brussels sprouts, as this both diminishes their nutritional content and can make them taste rather bitter.

Definitely give this much-maligned vegetable a try the next time you’re looking for something new to eat. It may just be that a once-avoided veggie becomes one of your favorite dishes.