Topping Brussels Sprouts

comments (2) September 25th, 2008

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Ruth Ruth Dobsevage, Web producer
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Brussels sprouts in mid-September sport a full top.
Decapitated, the plant will put its energy into developing the sprouts.
Sprouts will continue to grow well after other crops have succumbed to freezing temperatures. In fact, they taste even better after a frost.
Brussels sprouts in mid-September sport a full top.Click To Enlarge

Brussels sprouts in mid-September sport a full top.

Photo: Ruth Dobsevage

Brussels sprouts are not to everyone’s taste, but I love ‘em. They’re tasty, nutritious, and best of all, they are at their finest after a frost, when tomatoes, peppers, and cukes are just a fond memory. I’ve even picked them in January.

Brussels sprouts are easily started from seed (I start mine in March), or you can purchase plants at garden centers. I usually plant mine in the ground in early May.

As they grow, the plants, with their tall, thick stems and rounded leaves, look a bit comical and ungainly, like a Dr. Seuss creation. Sprouts form along the main stem, and by September, the plant develops a cabbage-y head. For many years my yields were minuscule. A tip from the Fedco Seeds catalog solved the problem. An early fall lopping shifts the plant’s energy from height to sprout development. A quick cut with a pruners does the deed, and by November your sprouts should be big enough to pick.

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If your first reaction to Brussels sprouts is “yucky,” maybe you should stop boiling them and try oven roasting or pan roasting. With these methods, the harsh taste disappears, and the flavor becomes caramelized. A little garlic tossed into the pan isn’t a bad idea, either.


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Comments (2)

VOW writes: I worked for awhile in London. At a certain time of year, the greengrocers offered the tops of those Brussels sprouts and quickly sold out. Don't throw them out. Cook them as greens. Delicious!
Posted: 12:24 pm on March 26th
bloomer writes: hello Ruth; I grew two brussel sprouts plants one year, and they looked super, until the mildew hit them. They had plenty of air circulation, and I used drip irrigation. What can I do next time I plant them to prevent this? I really love to eat those little cabbages, yumm.
Posted: 11:05 am on April 22nd
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