How to choose brussel sprouts?

Contents

Quick Guide to Growing Brussels Sprouts

  • Plant Brussels sprouts during the cool temperatures of early spring and early fall.
  • Brussels sprouts need room to spread out, so space them 18- 24 inches apart in an area that gets 6 or more hours of sun daily and has well-drained, fertile soil with a pH of 6.8.
  • Before planting, improve native soil by mixing in several inches of compost or other rich organic matter.
  • Check soil moisture regularly and give plants 1 to 1.5 inches of water weekly.
  • Encourage an abundant harvest by feeding Brussels sprouts regularly with a continuous-release plant food.
  • Lay down a 3-inch layer of mulch to retain soil moisture and prevent weeds.
  • Harvest when heads are firm and green. They should be 1 to 2 inches in diameter.

Soil, Planting, and Care

Like most vegetables, Brussels sprouts need a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight daily; more is better. They like fertile, well-drained, moist soils with plenty of organic matter. The soil pH should be on the high side of the range for vegetables, about 6.8, for optimum growth and to discourage clubroot disease. To be sure about pH, get the soil tested. You can buy a test kit at a well-stocked garden center, or have a soil test done through your regional Cooperative Extension office. Apply fertilizer and lime using the results of the soil test as a guide. In the absence of a soil test, incorporate plenty of nitrogen-rich amendments (like blood meal, cottonseed meal, or composted manure) in the soil, or mix in aged compost-enriched Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose In-Ground Soil to add nutrition and improve the texture of your native soil. For best results in your garden, though, don’t stop at the soil. Growing plants need a steady supply of high-quality nutrition, too, so feed them regularly with a continuous-release fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose Plant Nutrition Granules, which feeds the beneficial microbes in the soil in addition to nourishing your plants. Be sure to follow all label directions.

Brussels sprouts also need more boron than most other vegetables. Boron is a plant nutrient used in minute quantities by all plants; without it, Brussels sprouts develop hollow stems and small buds. If your plants have shown these symptoms, you can add boron to the soil by dissolving 1 level tablespoon of borax (such as 20 Mule Team from the grocery shelf) in 5 quarts of water and sprinkling it evenly over 50 square feet of bed. DO NOT be tempted to mix more because too much causes problems. Also, do not apply unless your plants have shown the deficiency symptoms we just mentioned.

For your best chance at garden success, skip the seeds and start instead with strong, vigorous Bonnie Plants®. Set the young plants at the spacing noted on the label. Brussels sprouts get large, so they need to be about 18 to 24 inches apart in a row or bed. If planted in rows, space rows 30 inches apart to give yourself enough room to walk. Don’t let seedlings sit around for long, dry out, or get stunted in their pack. Plant right away.

Water thoroughly after planting to encourage good growth, then mulch to keep the ground cool and moist. Water regularly, applying 1 to 1.5 inches of water a week if plants don’t receive enough rain.

Judy Kim / TODAY

The long maligned Brussels sprout is now the cool kid in class, being roasted, pan seared and sautéed in restaurant and home kitchens alike. If shredded super thin — either by hand or with a mandolin slicer — you can even enjoy them raw in a salad. Read on for advice on how to shop for, store and prep the adorable mini cabbages.

Get everything you need to cook with seasonal fall fruits and veggies

Upgrade scrambled eggs with Brussels sprouts and quinoa

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How to shop for Brussels sprouts

  • Brussels sprouts are occasionally available on the stalk, especially at farmers’ markets. The stalk version certainly has some drama, but it’s perfectly fine to buy Brussels sprouts loose.
  • Look for bright green heads that are firm and heavy for their size. The leaves should be tightly packed. Avoid Brussels sprouts with yellowing leaves, a sign of age, or black spots, which could indicate fungus.
  • Smaller Brussels sprouts are usually sweeter and more tender than larger ones. Cold concentrates Brussels sprouts’ sweetness, so they tend to taste better after the first frost.

14 ways to make veggies less boring

How to store Brussels sprouts

  • If you purchase Brussels sprouts on the stalk, cut them off before storing. Otherwise, leave Brussels sprouts intact until you’re ready to cook them.
  • Place Brussels sprouts in an uncovered bowl or container in the refrigerator. Brussels sprouts will be at their best within the first few days, but depending on how fresh they are, they can last as long as a few weeks in the fridge.

How to prep Brussels sprouts

  • Wash Brussels sprouts in cold running water and pat them dry.
  • Trim the stem end of Brussels sprouts and remove any loose, yellowing or shriveled leaves.
  • If your Brussels sprouts aren’t all the same size, halve or quarter larger ones so they’ll cook evenly.

Brussels sprouts recipes

Shaved Brussels sprouts salad with marcona almonds and pecorino

Brussels sprouts with brown sugar and walnuts

Lauren Salkeld

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlicky Bread Crumbs

Lauren Salkeld

Picking Brussel Sprouts: How To Harvest Brussel Sprouts

Harvesting Brussels sprouts provides a nutritious side dish on the table, and learning when to harvest Brussels sprouts can make your experience more flavorful.

As with most vegetables, learning how to pick Brussels sprouts at the right time is a worthwhile endeavor.

When to Harvest Brussels Sprouts

Picking Brussels sprouts should begin when the sprouts are one inch in diameter. Harvesting Brussels sprouts is best done when maturity occurs in cooler weather. Lower sprouts will mature first, with upper sprouts maturing a day to a few days later. With most hybrid varieties it takes upwards of 85 days for the sprout to reach maturity.

The open pollinated variety, ‘Rubine’ can take 105 days or longer to maturity. Rubine is somewhat less productive than many hybrid varieties, but may be your choice if you wish to harvest Brussels sprouts that are not of hybrid types.

‘Long Island Improves’ is an open pollinated type that produces in about 90 days, but is not a guaranteed performer.

How to Pick Brussels Sprouts

When picking Brussels sprouts from hybrid plants, begin checking for ripe vegetables after 80 days. Indications that the vegetable is ready include size of the Brussels sprout and firmness. Picking Brussels sprouts, no matter the variety, is best done during cool days, so plant the crop accordingly, about three months before you want to begin picking Brussels sprouts.

When the Brussels sprout begins to form near bottom leaves, removing these plant leaves will often aid in getting ready for harvesting Brussels sprouts. This is often done by those growing and picking Brussels sprouts commercially. If leaf removal is not done before harvesting Brussels sprouts, remove the leaves afterward so they will not take energy from maturing sprouts on the plant. Breaking off the Brussels sprout often breaks the leave off. Some growers remove the top of the plant to direct energy to the vegetable before picking Brussels sprouts.

When are Brussels Sprouts Ready to Pick?

Learning how to pick Brussels sprouts and when to harvest Brussels sprouts, no matter the variety, involves a few critical points. Picking is best done before the leaves of the sprout turn yellow and begin opening. Sprouts should be firm and about an inch (2.5 cm.) in diameter for optimum flavor and nutrients. Also, and depending on when you planted them, if you can wait until there’s been one or two frosty nights, the sprouts are said to actually become sweeter (referred to as cold sweetening). Pick spouts from the bottom of plants and check daily for more sprouts that are ready.

Learning when to harvest Brussels sprouts is not difficult if you plant at the right time and follow these suggestions.

With only a handful of ingredients, this recipe for Garlic & Parmesan Roasted Brussels Sprouts really will be The Best Brussels Sprouts of Your Life!

Serve this delicious recipe with anything from holiday dinners to Breaded Chicken Cutlets with a side of roasted potatoes for a family meal everyone will love!

Perfect Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Garlic

This Brussels Sprouts recipe is my family’s favorite vegetable recipe… EVER. And I’m betting that once you try it, it’ll be a favorite in your house too!

Guess how many ingredients are in this recipe? C’mon guess! Okay, I’ll tell you… four. Just four ingredients (and some seasoning)! Hello, simple side dish! You’re Welcome! 🙂

Watch How to Make The Best Brussels Sprouts of Your Life
Brussels Sprouts Buying Guide:
  • Choose Brussels sprouts that feel tightly compacted and hard when squeezed.
  • Smaller sprouts tend to taste sweeter, while larger sprouts taste more cabbage-like.
  • Untrimmed Sprouts are just as good as trimmed, and both should keep for several weeks refrigerated.
Preparing The Brussels Sprouts for Roasting

Start with cleaning and trimming the Brussels sprouts (if you haven’t bought them cleaned for you). Then halve the larger Brussels sprouts.

Leave smaller sprouts whole, but cut a cross symbol through the stem (just about a quarter-inch deep).

The stem is the toughest part of the Brussels sprout and the cross allows them to cook at the same rate as the tender area.

How to Make Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic:

Place the prepared Brussels sprouts on a large roasting pan or a large baking sheet.

Add olive oil.

Add thinly sliced garlic to the pan. I’ll let you in on a little secret – I use this little gadget to slice my garlic.

I’m telling you, if you don’t have one, you need to get one because it is amazing!

You just fill it with peeled garlic, twist and thinly sliced garlic comes out! It’s changed how I cook forever! You can get one on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca or Amazon.co.uk (As an Amazon Associate, a small commission is made from qualifying purchases).

Add freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Season with salt and pepper.

Toss to coat. Roast at 400F for 20 minutes.

Scatter with more freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve.

Cook’s Tips:

  • Dry your Brussels sprouts well. The drier they are, the crispier they’ll be. If washing, use paper towels to pat them dry or use a salad spinner to spin that liquid right off.
  • Brown is good. If you’ve never cooked Brussels sprouts this way, at first glance you may think it looks burnt out of the oven, but once you taste it, you’ll know those little “burnt” areas are the best tasting parts!
  • When using untrimmed Brussels sprouts, trim off the dry part of the stem at the base of the sprout and any loose outer leaves.
  • For an extra caramelized area place the sliced Brussels sprouts cut-side down at on the pan. This will give a larger browned surface area.
  • Leave smaller sprouts whole to avoid overcooking.
  • On smaller sprouts that don’t need to be halved, slice a cross in the stem (see the video). The stem is the toughest part of the Brussels sprout and the cross allows them to cook at the same rate as the tender area.
  • For an extra kick of flavor, try adding lemon zest before roasting and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice before serving.
  • Be sure to taste and season well before serving.

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The Best Brussels Sprouts of Your Life

Jazz up your Brussels Sprouts with a hint of garlic and freshly grated cheese – making this simple side dish one that the whole family will love! Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 25 minutes Course: Dinner Cuisine: American Keyword: brussels sprouts, brussels sprouts recipe, Roasted Brussels Sprouts Servings: 4 servings Calories: 167kcal Author: Erren Hart of Erren’s Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Brussels Sprouts, Cleaned and trimmed
  • 3 cloves garlic, Thin sliced or chopped
  • ¼ cup Parmesan Cheese, Freshly grated
  • salt and pepper, To taste
  • 3 tablespoons good quality olive oil, or for Keto, butter flavor coconut oil

Cups – Metric

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400F
  • If needed, clean and trim the Brussels sprouts and cut them in halves and place them in an oven safe dish. Make sure to dry them very well before cooking.
  • Add the garlic, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper, followed by the olive oil. Toss to coat.
  • Roast in the oven uncovered for 20-25 minutes until crisp, brown and caramelized on the outside and tender on the inside. Serve with more grated cheese.

Video

  • Dry your Brussels sprouts well. The drier they are, the crispier they’ll be. If washing, use paper towels to pat them dry or use a salad spinner to spin that liquid right off.
  • Brown is good. If you’ve never cooked Brussels sprouts this way, at first glance you may think it looks burnt out of the oven, but once you taste it, you’ll know those little “burnt” areas are the best tasting parts!
  • When using untrimmed Brussels sprouts, trim off the dry part of the stem at the base of the sprout and any loose outer leaves.
  • For an extra caramelized area place the sliced brussels sprouts cut-side down at on the pan. This will give a larger browned surface area.
  • Leave smaller sprouts whole to avoid overcooking.

  • On smaller sprouts that don’t need to be halved, slice a cross in the stem (see the video). The stem is the toughest part of the Brussels sprout and the cross allows them to cook at the same rate as the tender area.
  • For an extra kick of flavor, try adding lemon zest before roasting and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 167kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 120mg | Potassium: 450mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 899IU | Vitamin C: 97mg | Calcium: 119mg | Iron: 2mg Tried this recipe?Mention @ErrensKitchen or tag #ErrensKitchen!

Update Notes: This post was originally published on Dec 5, 2017, but was republished with, step by step instructions, photos, cooking tips, and a video in September of 2018 and new step by step photos in October 2018

Harvest Brussels sprouts when they are ½ to 1¾ inches (1-4 cm) in diameter, green, and firm.

Brussels sprouts are ready for harvest 90 to 110 days after sowing.

  • Start picking after the first frost and continue into early winter in cold-winter regions. Sprouts become sweeter and more flavorful after they’ve been touched by frost. Sprouts can be harvested from beneath the snow.
  • In mild-winter regions, Brussels sprouts planted in late summer or fall can be harvested all winter.
  • During harvest pick off soft and undersized sprouts even if you don’t plan to eat them; also remove leaves below the sprouts you’ve picked; this will keep the plant growing tall and producing new sprouts.
  • A single plant will produce about 100 sprouts over 2 to 3 months. Sprouts left on the plant too long will start to yellow and the tightly wrapped leaves will loosen.
  • Plants will produce quickly at first but as the weather gets colder and colder production will slow. Fully mature sprouts can remain on the plant in cold weather; harvest sprouts as you need them.
  • To protect plants from hard freezes, bury them up to their top leaves in straw and pull back the straw as you want to harvest. If temperatures drop consistently below 20°F (-6°C), complete the harvest and store the sprouts.

How to Harvest Brussels Sprouts

  • Harvest sprouts by beginning at the bottom of the plant and picking off sprouts that are about the size of a marble or larger. Continue the harvest moving up the stalk.
  • Sprouts grow at the base of each leaf close to the plant’s main stem. Grasp each sprout with two fingers and simply give a twist to pull it away or use garden scissors, but don’t cut too close to the stem.
  • If you want to harvest most of the sprouts on a plant at once, wait until the lower sprouts are about ½ inch in diameter then cut off the top of the plant about two weeks before you want to harvest.
  • Removing the top leaves and the growing tip will direct the plant’s energy into maturing sprouts.

You can store sprouts individually or attached to the whole stalk. If you store the whole stalk, wrap a moist paper towel around the stub to extend storage.

How to Store Brussels Sprouts

  • Store Brussels sprouts cold and moist, 32°-40°F (0°-4°C) and 95 percent relative humidity. Cold and moist storage is a challenge. Refrigerators provide the cold, but they also dry the air.
  • Store sprouts unwashed wrapped in a moist towel in a perforated plastic bag in the vegetable crisper section of the refrigerator. Refrigerated sprouts will keep for 3 to 5 weeks.
  • You can store sprouts individually or attached to the whole stalk. If you store the whole stalk, wrap a moist paper towel around the stub to extend storage.
  • In very cold winter areas, you can dig up some of the plants and move them into a cold frame or into containers in a cool garage or basement. You can harvest sprouts from these plants for several months.
  • Leaves from the Brussels sprouts plant are edible but they are thicker and tougher than cabbage so they are best chopped and steamed for serving.

More tips at How to Grow Brussels Sprouts.

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts, is a hardy, slow-growing, long-season vegetable belonging to the cabbage family. 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 “sprouts” (small heads that resemble miniature cabbages) 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. Brussels sprouts require a long growing period, though newer hybrids have greatly reduced this requirement. In all but the most northern states, summers are usually too warm for completely satisfactory production from spring plantings. Plants set out in late spring to early summer grow satisfactorily and mature high-quality sprouts when the fall weather begins to cool.

Recommended Varieties

Hybrid

Bubbles (82 days to harvest, dependable, tolerates warm weather, resistant to rust)

Jade Cross (90 days, resistant to yellows)

Jade Cross E (90 days; sprouts larger, easier to remove from stalk than with original strain)

Oliver (85 days; early; easy-to-pick, attractive sprouts)

Prince Marvel (90 days; tight; sweet sprouts)

Royal Marvel (85 days; tolerant to bottom rot and tipburn; tight sprouts; very productive)

Valiant (90 days; smooth, uniform sprouts)

Open-pollinated

Long Island Improves (90 days; variable, harder to produce heavy, uniform crop with this variety)

Rubine (105 days; red plants and sprouts; novel, but very late maturing, not nearly as productive as recommended hybrid green types).

When To Plant

Transplant in early summer to midsummer about the same time that you would plant late, long-season cabbage. The seed should be sown in a protected location in seed flats, 4 to 5 weeks before transplanting. Transplant the seedlings to the permanent garden location when space and time allow; but at least 90 to 100 days before the first frost date for your area. For summer harvest, you must plant transplants of an early, heat-resistant variety in very early spring. Sprouts maturing in hot weather or under dry conditions are more likely to develop bitterness. Fall production is the most practical and rewarding in most parts of the country.

Spacing & Depth

Space plants 24 to 36 inches apart in the row, or 24 inches in all directions in beds. Cover seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep and transplant the seedlings when they are about 3 inches tall. Do not allow transplants to become stunted in the flats before transplanting.

Care

Brussels sprouts are grown much like the related cole crops, cabbage and broccoli. Apply one side-dress application of nitrogen fertilizer when the plants are 12 inches tall and water to keep the crop growing vigorously during the heat of summer. Without ample soil moisture, the crop fails. Insect control is also very important at this stage to keep the plants growing vigorously. Cultivate shallowly around the plants to prevent root damage. The sprouts form in the axils of the leaves (the space between the base of the leaf and the stem above it).

Commercial gardeners remove the leaves to accelerate harvest, but this practice is not essential in the home garden. Some gardeners believe that the sprouts develop better if the lowermost six to eight leaves are removed from the sides of the stalk as the sprouts develop. Two or three additional leaves can be removed each week, but several of the largest, healthiest, fully expanded upper leaves should always be left intact on top to continue feeding the plant. About 3 weeks before harvest, the plants may be topped (the growing point removed) to speed the completion of sprout development on the lower-stem area.

Harvesting

The small sprouts or buds form heads one to two inches in diameter. They may be picked (or cut) off the stem when they are firm and about one inch in size. The lower sprouts mature first. The lowermost leaves, if they have not been removed already, should be removed when the sprouts are harvested. Harvest sprouts before the leaves yellow.

Common Problems

Aphids, cabbage worms and diseases.

Questions & Answers

Q. Why do my sprouts remain loose tufts of leaves instead of developing into firm heads?

A. When the sprouts develop in hot weather (after spring seeding or during a warm fall), they often do not form compact heads. Use transplants for early plantings and maintain ample soil moisture. You also can cut off the top growing point when the plant reaches 24 to 36 inches in height. This practice stops leaf growth and directs the plant’s energy to the developing sprouts. In addition, check the variety you have planted. The newer, faster-maturing varieties are generally more suitable for getting dependable yields.

Selection & Storage

Brussels sprouts, what an odd name for a vegetable that has the appearance of a “cute little baby” cabbage. No one seems to know where Brussels sprouts originated but it is assumed they came from Belgium where Brussels is the capital city. In parts of Europe they are also known as “Brussels cabbage”, which seems appropriate since they are a subspecies of the common cabbage.

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. Maybe it is time to give Brussels sprouts another chance, this time with a new attitude and a modern cooking spirit.

Like cabbage and cabbage sprouts, Brussels sprouts are a cool weather crop. They should be harvested when the sprouts are small, compact and bright green. Avoid yellowing sprouts with signs of wilt rot or insect damage. Harvest sprouts when they are no larger than 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter.

The fresher the sprouts, the better the flavor, so refrigerator storage should not exceed a day or two. Remove any damaged or irregular outer leaves and store fresh unwashed sprouts in plastic bags in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator.

Nutritional Value & Health Benefits

Unlike most green vegetables, Brussels sprouts are rather high in protein. Although the protein is incomplete—lacking the full spectrum of essential amino acids—a serving of whole grains will make them complete. As a member of the cabbage family Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable. Current research suggests vegetables in this group offer protection against some forms of cancer.

Nutrition Facts
(1/2 cup cooked)
Calories 30
Protein 2 grams
Carbohydrates 7 grams
Dietary Fiber 2 grams
Potassium 247 mg
Vitamin C 48 mg
Folate 47 mcg
Vitamin A 561 IU

Preparation & Serving

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 whether you are steaming, braising or boiling. Select sprouts of even size for uniform cooking. Large sprouts should be cut in half.

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.

  1. Select firm, young, tender heads. Examine heads carefully to make sure they are free from insects.
  2. Trim, removing coarse outer leaves. Wash thoroughly. Sort into small, medium and large sizes.
  3. 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.
  4. Blanch small heads 3 minutes, medium heads 4 minutes and large heads 5 minutes.
  5. To 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.
  6. Cooling should take the same amount of time as blanching, depending on the size of the heads.
  7. Drain, pack into zip-closure bags or freezer containers, label and date. Freeze for up to one year at zero degrees or below.

Recipes

Braised Brussels Sprouts with Mustard Butter
Braising is an excellent method for cooking Brussels sprouts. Braising refers to cooking food with a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pan.

1 pound small, firm, bright green Brussels sprouts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter or margarine
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Check each head, peel off any loose or discolored leaves. Using a paring knife, cut an X through the core end of each head.
  2. Bring sprouts, water and salt to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Lower heat, cover and simmer. Shake pan once or twice during braising to redistribute sprouts.
  3. Cook until just tender 8 to 10 minutes. Test by piercing with a knife tip. Drain well.
  4. Melt butter in a large skillet of medium heat. Whisk in mustard until smooth. Cook , stirring constantly until smooth and creamy, about 30 seconds.
  5. Add sprouts to skillet, coating well with the butter mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve. Serves 3 to 4.

VeggieHarvest

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Brussels Sprouts Growing and Harvest Information

Temperature
Germination 50-80 F
For growth 60-65 F
Soil and Water
Fertilizer -Heavy feeder; use compost or 2-3 bushels of manure per 100 square feet.
Side-dressing – Apply 2 weeks after transplanting, and twice more at monthly intervals
pH 6.0-7.5
Water average
Measurements
Planting depth 1/4″
Root depth 18-36″
Height 24-48″
Width 24″
Space between plants
In beds 16-18″
In rows 18-24″
Space between rows 24-40″
Average plants per person 2-8
Harvest
For the best sprout growth, when a node begins to bulge, remove the leaf below it. Harvest from the bottom of the stalk up. When sprouts are firm and no more than 1″ across, use a sharp knife to cut off the sprouts and remove lower leaves. Leave enough trunk so that new sprouts can grow.As the harvest slows, pinch the top of the plant to direct nutrients to the sprouts.
First Seed starting Date: 45-80 days before last frost date
Last Seed Starting Date: 118-145 Days before first frost date
Companions
Companions Artichoke, beet, peas, potato, spinach
Incompatibles Pole beans, strawberry, tomato, Kohlrabi

Brussel sprout or Brussel sprouts is a common mispelling of this particular vegetable (should be Brussels for both). The name originates from the city of Brussels, Belgium where it has long been popular, and may have originated from. Brussels sprouts are an annual cool season crop, hardy to frosts and light freezes. There are two basic varieties: (1) the dwarf (“Jade Cross”) which matures early and is winter hardy, but more difficult to harvest and (2) the taller (“Long Island Improved”), which is less hardy but easier to harvest. Brussels sprouts have shallow roots, so as they become top heavy, you may need to stake them, particularly if exposed to strong winds. As with other brassicas, Brussels Sprouts are susceptible to pests and diseases that must be kept under control early in the season. As with other brassicas, composting roots should be avoided. Brussels Sprouts should not be grown within a 10 foot radius of any brassica growing location within the last 3 years, preferably 7 years. Brussels Sprouts are high in calcium and iron, as well as a good source of vitamins A and C.

Where to grow Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are a cool-season vegetable, and should not be grown where the summers are long, hot and dry.

Recommended Varieties of Brussels Sprouts

  • Jade Cross
  • Long Island Improved

Soil for Brussels Sprouts

Average garden soil enriched with compost and rotted manure, the same type of soil that will support all members of the cabbage family would be a good choice for Brussels Sprouts

Planting Brussels Sprouts

Germination in 4-10 days.

When –

Start seed indoors in early May so plants are ready to set out in June or early July. The sprouts develop best in cool weather.

How –

In rows 3 feet apart, with 30 inches between the plants.

How Brussels Sprouts Grow

This is one of the strangest looking vegetables. The plant produces tiny little cabbage heads in the axils of the leaves along a strong central stalk. As the sprouts develop the leaves are broken off, so that eventually what appears is a fat, upright stem covered with clusters of sprouts and topped with long green leaves, much like a shortened palm tree. Sprouts develop from the bottom of the plant upward.

Cultivating Brussels Sprouts

Keep weed free with shallow cultivation or heavy mulching. Grow in the same manner as all cabbage family plants. As soon as the lower sprouts begin to mature, pinch out the growing shoot at the top of each plant (not the entire top leaf). This will stop the top from growing and encourage the sprouts to ripen along the stalk.

Storage Requirements
Store entire plant in a cool root cellar. Otherwise, leave the stalk in the ground and pick sprouts when ready to eat. Some report harvesting through the snow.
Preserved
Method Taste Shelf Life
Canned fair 12+ months
Frozen good 12 months
Dried poor

Harvesting Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts generally take about 3 months until they are ready to harvest. The sprouts will mature from the bottom up. When sprouts first appear, the lower leaf should be cut off. The sprouts should be picked green when about an inch or so in diameter. To pick them, you can either twist them off, or better yet get a sharp knife and cut them off. Each plant should yield about 1 quart of sprouts. Harvest continues well into the cold fall months. Light snow does not seem to stop their developing, and even improves their flavor. Harvests of frozen sprouts from plants in January have been reported.
For maximum vitamin C, harvest when the temperature is around freezing. Some say never to harvest unless you’ve had at least two frosts, because frost improves flavor. It has also been reported that sprouts can be harvested through the summer and still be tender, if continuously picked when they reach the size of marbles. If you want to harvest all at once instead of continuously, cut or pinch off the stalk top 4-8 weeks before your intended harvest time. After harvest, remove the entire plant from the ground to minimize the chance of disease next season. Some gardeners in severely cold climates may prefer to dig plants still loaded with sprouts and keep them in a cool, light place where they will continue to ripen.

Pests for Brussels Sprouts

  • Same for cabbage
  • Root Maggot -Place 3 inch tar paper squares around each seedling when transplanting to cover the soil areas; or keep the ground dusted with wood ash.
  • Cabbage butterflies/worms -controlling cabbage worms is surprisingly easy. Cover susceptible crops with a floating row cover when planting and leave it in place until harvest.
  • Cutworms – Use stiff paper collars around transplants to extend at least 1 inch below the soil line.
  • Flea beetles – Dust with wood ash or flour dust.

Diseases for Brussels Sprouts

  • Same for cabbage
  • Soil fungicides are somewhat effective on Brussels Sprout diseases, but they are expensive, sold in large quantity, and not practical for small home garden use, unless a great deal of Brussels Sprouts are grown.
  • Club root fungus – Most frequent in soggy or acid soil. Grow only in well-drained soil; follow crop rotation practices; lime to keep soil pH at a neutral 7.
  • Yellows – A soil-born disease; choose resistant varieties.
  • Black rot – Bacteria born on seed; buy only from reputable seed dealers or bedding plant growers; rotate crops.
  • Blackleg – Bacteria spreads from infected plants, garden tools, and leftover debris. Follow crop rotation.

Brussel Sprout Varieties

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I never had Brussel Sprouts as a kid. I know it’s one of those things that kids are supposed to hate, but it never occurred to my parents to make any vegetable other than canned corn or canned green beans. On really special occasions, my mom would buy a can of asparagus.

In college, other kids experimented with all sorts of things, but one of my most “adventurous” friends introduced me to something that would change my life: Brussel sprouts. I know, not exactly race-y, but I felt like my parents had held out on me. All those years, Brussel sprouts were out there, being delicious, and I never knew it.

Now, these tiny space cabbages on a stalk find there way into my garden every year.

Brussels sprouts are a member of the cabbage and kale family, and they’re just one more variation in terms of flavor and growth habit. Much like kale, the plant produced a single central stalk and thick, cold hearty leaves. At each leaf junction, a tiny cabbage-like head is formed, and that’s the harvestable sprout.

These days, most brussels sprout varieties are hybrids. It’s hard to find seeds for the old school heirlooms anymore. If you don’t intend to save seed, go ahead and choose an improved hybrid because they’ll be easier to grow and much more dependable. For those seed savers out there, take the time to seek out an heirloom variety.

Thus far, there’s no such thing as a GMO Brussels sprout, so any seed you find will be non-GMO by default.

Heirloom Brussels Sprout Varieties

  • Long Island Improved – (90 days) Developed in the late 1800’s, this is still the most commonly grown heirloom variety. They’re known for heavy yields and good flavor. (Seeds available here)
  • Catskill – (100 days) Developed in the 1940’s, this open-pollinated variety is hearty and produces extra strong stalks. The sprouts are large, sometimes 2” in diameter, and they’re great for freezing. (Seeds available here)
  • Groninger – (105 days) A good choice for beginners, this variety produces a good crop even in variable weather. They’re described as tight headed, with a delicate flavor. Harvest after the first frost for the sweetest sprouts. (Seeds Available Here)
  • Red Rubine Brussel Sprouts – (90 days) A bright red heirloom that will add color and variety to your table. They require cool weather to stay sweet, and they can be a bit finicky. (Seeds Available Here)
  • Falstaff Brussels Sprouts – (102 days) A more dependable red/purple-colored brussels sprouts variety. The sprouts have blueish purple pigments in their veins and the tips of their leaves. The color intensifies after a frost. Sprouts are smaller than most green varieties. (Seeds Available Here)

Hybrid Brussels Sprout Varieties

  • Hestia Hybrid – Marketed as a variety that’s both heat and cold tolerant, this one will produce under most any garden conditions. They also keep well in the field, when most brussels sprouts require immediate picking for best results. We’re growing this variety this year. (Seeds Available Here)
  • Octia Hybrid – (78 days) This variety has dark leaves and a tightly packed head. It’s early maturing, and a good choice for areas with short growing seasons.
  • Mighty Hybrid – (100 days) A dependable producer of 1-inch sprouts.
  • Dimitri Hybrid – (100-110 days) Listed as one of the easiest hybrids to grow, these are also easy to harvest and do not require topping the plant before harvest.

How to Plant Brussel Sprouts

Once you’ve selected a Brussels sprouts variety, it’s time to get planting. In areas with a short growing season, brussels sprouts are planted indoors in potting soil and transplanted outdoors in the spring. While they do taste better when harvested after a frost in the fall, unless they’re started indoors, it’s still hard to bring in a crop in our short 100 day growing season here in Vermont. We start them indoors about 4 to 6 weeks before we intend to plant.

In warmer areas, brussels sprouts are planted in the fall and grown through the winter months before they’re harvested in the early spring. That way, they’re able to grow through the cold months and be harvested before temperatures really heat up. Ideally, they appreciate temperatures around 60 to 65 degrees for best growth.

Transplanting Brussels Sprout Seedlings

If starting indoors, transplant brussels sprouts into the garden about 2 weeks before your last expected frost date. Be sure to harden off the seedlings outdoors during the day for about a week before planting to reduce transplant shock. Be sure you haven’t started them too far in advance of the planting date because they can be stunted if their roots become pot bound. The roots in the transplant above are just starting to get out of hand, and that one stayed in the pot a little bit too long.

The transplanted brussels sprout seedlings should be patted into the soil, but be careful not to compact it. Loose soil will allow their roots to grow more freely. Plants are spaced about 2 feet apart in rows. The tiny transplants will look a bit sparse in the row at 2-foot spacing, but don’t worry. They may not look large now, but they’ll need all that space by the end of the season.

How to Grow Brussel Sprouts

Once planted, brussels sprouts require well-drained soil and ample water. Unlike tomatoes, brassicas don’t mind having wet leaves, so water them freely to make sure they’re getting enough. The waxy coating on the leaves will help the water shed right off, and prevent fungal diseases that can be a problem with other types of plants.

Brussels sprout plants don’t require excessive amounts of fertility, and if the soil has too much free nitrogen they’ll actually grow weak in the stem from growing too quickly. If you do fertilize, try using modest amounts of well-rotted compost.

Growing Brussel Sprouts in Containers

Brussels sprouts can be grown in containers, provided they have enough space. A container needs to be at least 12 inches in diameter, with soil at least 12 inches deep. A large pot from a nursery tree is a good container to use, or a 5-gallon bucket would also work well. Planting brussels sprouts in containers actually allows you to extend the harvest out longer, as the containers can be brought indoors into a root cellar or closet. That’ll allow you to keep harvesting them well into winter, and it’s an old time trick for root cellaring brussels sprouts.

If you started by plating Brussel sprouts in the garden, dig them up roots and all after the first few hard frosts. Pot them up in a bucket and bring them indoors. This will give you several months of season extension as you slowly harvest the last of the ripening Brussel sprouts.

If you’d planted the Brussel sprouts in containers to begin with, they’ll produce indoors through January even in cold climates.

Harvesting Brussel Sprouts

So once the sprouts begin to ripen, how do you harvest brussels sprouts? Each individual sprout grows out of the stalk right about a leaf joint. The sprouts will begin maturing from the bottom of the plant upward, and they can be harvested progressively over the season. Smaller sprouts have a more delicate flavor, and larger brussels sprouts will taste more like cabbage. Once the sprouts get too large, they’ll turn bitter.

It’s a gamble. If you harvest too small, your yield will be low. If you wait too long, you’ll have plenty of volume but be short on taste. Use your best judgment once they’re at least the size of large marbles, you can begin experimenting with your own harvests and choose the size that works best for your families’ needs.

To harvest brussel sprouts, start by removing the leaf below the sprout attachment point. The sprouts can be either cut or pulled. Generally, a single plant will yield about a quart of mature brussels sprouts, but that will vary based on the size of your sprouts and when you choose to harvest.

The brussels sprout leaves can be cooked as greens, much like collard greens. Not only are the greens edible, but removing some of them may help the plant produce more sprouts. Some gardeners “top” their plants at the end of the season, which encourages the plant to put resources into the sprouts instead of more stem and leaf development. Near the end of the season, if your plant is still growing taller and hasn’t made much in the way of sprouts, go ahead and chop it’s head off. That’ll teach it!

If your plants produce early, once the sprouts are harvested, don’t pull out the plants! The brussel sprout plant may begin producing a second crop of sprouts if there’s still enough time left in the season.

Root Cellaring Brussel Sprouts

In the late fall, whole plants can be dug up and replanted in pots. Those pots are then moved to the root cellar, where they can be harvested over the next month. This extends the harvest and will allow you to put brussels sprouts on the table for Thanksgiving and Christmas even in cold areas.

Once harvested, brussels sprouts will keep in the refrigerator or root cellar for 1 to 2 months. I’ve successfully kept them longer, but just like cabbage, you need to keep an eye for mold or mildew starting on the outer leaves. The book Root Cellaring is an excellent resource if you plan on cold storing brussels sprouts or anything else for that matter.

How to Cook Brussels Sprouts

Once the brussels sprout harvest is in, you have a solemn responsibility.

Repeat after me: “I will not boil brussels sprouts. I will not leach every last bit of goodness out of them in a pot of boiling water, leaving them lifeless, slimy and bitter. They deserve better than that.”

Brussels sprouts can be absolutely delicious, but only if they’re cooked correctly. My personal favorite way to cook them is to slice them in half, and then toss them in olive oil and balsamic before roasting them on a baking tray at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Perfectly crisp and delicious, with the flavor of balsamic to add intrigue and balance.

I am by no means a food blogger, so I asked a few of my talented food blogger friends for their very best brussels sprouts recipes. Here are a few ideas:

Unique Brussels Sprout Recipes

  • Bang Bang Brussels Sprouts with Siracha and Sweet Chilli Sauce
  • Probiotic Fermented Brussels Sprouts
  • Cheesy Brussels Sprouts Leek Dip
  • Brussels Sprout Tacos
  • Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Pizza
  • Brussels Sprouts and Spring Onion Orecchiette
  • Brussels Sprouts Hash with Bacon and Poached Eggs
  • Brussels Sprouts Mac and Cheese
  • Polenta Breakfast with Brussels Sprouts and Sausage

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Recipes

  • Lemon Garlic Brussels Sprouts
  • Crispy Asian Glazed Brussels Sprouts
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Pomegranate Glaze
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Butternut, Pecans and Dried Cherries
  • Teriyaki Brussels Sprouts
  • Garlic Brussels Sprouts
  • Maple Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Peanut Miso Dip

Brussels Sprouts Salads

  • Cranberry Brussels Sprouts Salad
  • Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad
  • Paleo Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad
  • Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad
  • Roasted Radish and Brussels Sprouts Salad
  • Brussels Sprouts and Berry Salad

Brussels Sprouts

The Brussels sprout (Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera) is a cool-season cole crop that is related to broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. The sprouts are buds or small heads that are produced in the leaf axils (the space between the base of the leaf and the stem above it). Sprouts mature starting at the base of the stem and working upward. In Kentucky, Brussels sprouts do best as a fall crop since sprouts maturing in hot weather are less firm and prone to bitterness.

Marketing

Commercial production of Brussels sprouts in the United States is concentrated in California, with some East Coast production on Long Island, New York. Across the entire U.S., 2,541 farms reported harvesting 9,445 acres of Brussels sprouts in 2017, with 9,115 acres being harvested for fresh market sales. The Census of Agriculture reported 24 Kentucky farms harvested Brussels sprouts for the 2017 growing season. Fall and overwinter production occurs on farms across the state. In Kentucky, fall crops appear to have the most potential for fresh market sales. Direct marketers should work to create niche markets, like restaurant or farmers market sales, for freshly harvested Brussels sprouts.

Production

Brussels sprouts are a slow-growing cool-weather vegetable, growing best when daytime temperatures are between 65 and 80 degrees F; they even do well in lightly frosty weather. For an early spring crop, start the seed about six weeks before the plants are to be transplanted, or about mid-February for transplanting around April 1 in most areas of Kentucky, allowing for harvest in mid-June. For a fall crop, plant seed between early and mid-June and set transplants in the field between July and August 1. Fall planting harvest might extend through Thanksgiving and even into December in mild years. Growers should be careful when selecting varieties as some may not produce firm harvestable sprouts under our growing conditions.

See the full crop profile and other resources below:

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