How to Choose and Cook Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sproutsIt’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.

Click here to find 10 tasty brussels sprouts recipes.



10 Tasty Brussels Sprouts Recipes

1• Pan-Fried Brussels Sprouts with Red Onion, Chilli and Cumin Seeds

Eat on its own, add cheese or use as an accompaniment to meat. (From

2• Stir-Fried Sprouts with Chestnuts

Brussels sprouts and chestnuts . . . that’s Christmas on a plate. (From

3• Brussels Sprouts in Onion Butter

The chicken stock and onions add more flavour to our little green friends. (From

4• Golden-Crusted Brussels Sprouts

Simple, quick and cheesy – mmmmmm. (From

5• Spicy Brussels Sprouts and Carrots

Brussels casserole style with a ‘unique flavour’ courtesy of onion, horseradish and parsley. (From

6• Brussels Sprouts with Apples

Brussels with apple, lemon, raisins and nutmeg, perfect for sweet-tooths. (From

7• Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted with cayenne pepper for a spicy tang. (From

8• Hashed Brussels Sprouts with Lemon

With garlic, mustard and vermouth. Mmmm. (From

9• Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad

Warm and satisfying with garlic, bacon and country-style bread. (From

10• Creamed Brussels Sprouts

Rich and creamy with aromatic nutmeg. Pure indulgence. (From


Brussels Sprouts and Bean Sprout Bubble and Squeak

I’ve tried the bean sprouts hot, so now it’s time to try them cold. When I fancy a snack, I grab a handful and discover that they are quite tasty this way, too, but they’re not something you can eat loads of in one sitting.

In the evening I decide to serve more of the bean sprouts with a bubble and squeak, which will use up my greens. When I go to the fridge I find that the leaves are more yellow than green and actually, they’re not greens at all – hiding in the middle are brussel sprouts!

There’s only about nine very small brussels on the plant so I pull these off and bulk up the cabbage element of the bubble and squeak with the rest of the red cabbage. I mash up some potatoes and fry an onion then stir it all together with a beaten egg.

I push the mixture into a frying pan that has been heating some oil. After 15 to 20 minutes the bottom is golden brown and it’s ready to eat. I garnish my squeak with a handful of bean sprouts and that’s one whole box now gone.

This is my first bubble and squeak, and even with my odd ingredients, it is really nice. OK, the red cabbage did leach its colour a bit but it tasted fine.