It’s my last veg box of 2008 and my final veggies of the year are:
• Potatoes • Carrots • Red cabbage • Parsnips • Swede • Brussels sprouts on the stalk and . . . • Five clementines.
The parsnips are a little past their best. They are already sprouting and a bit bendy. On the other hand, the brussels are super-fresh. They are firm and tight and are fun to twist and pull off the stalk – it’s the closest thing I’ll get to gardening living in a flat.
This is the freshest way to get brussels, but they can sometimes be hard to find this way in the shops. You’ll have better luck finding them in farmer’s markets and farm shops.
For those of us who can’t find brussels on the stalk, here are some tips for buying brussels loose.
How to Select the Best Brussels:
- Choose small to medium-sized brussels – in general they tend to lose their flavour the bigger they grow.
- Go for greener brussels. If they are yellowing or have dark spots they are past their best.
- Select the tightest, heaviest, firmest brussels you can find.
- For best results in the pot, pick out brussels that are about the same size. That way you can make sure that some won’t be over- or under-cooked.
How to Prepare Brussels Sprouts for Cooking
Fill a bowl with water and stir in 2 tablespoons of lemon juice – a natural acid that will help to clean the outer leaves and eliminate bugs. If you don’t have lemon juice or don’t want to use it, prepare a bowl of luke-warm water instead.
Now cut the stalk off each brussel sprout and discard any outer leaves that fall off. Check for black-marked leaves underneath and pull those off, too. Soak all your brussels in the prepared water for at least 10 minutes then rinse them in fresh water.
Now you are ready to cook!
It is best to cut brussels in half for stir fries or sautés so they’ll cook all the way through. If you are going to boil your brussels, pick out any that are on the large side and cut a cross in the base to speed up their cooking time.