Can You Identify This Alien Vegetable?

Good Morning. Our pop quiz for today is before you. What is this Vegetable?

Hint: This is not an alien. It actually grows on earth, and even in the US.

What you need to know:

This is Brassica oleracea Gemmifera, more commonly known as Brussels sprout. A cousin of the cabbage family, many of us remember this veggie from our childhood. And not in a good way. We’ll explain why in a minute.

This is quite unfortunate, as Brussels sprouts are actually very healthy. They are a nutrient powerhouse, including vitamin C, folic acid, B6, iron, vitamin A, and thiamine, along with antioxidants, fiber, and potassium.

The reason we hated them as kids is overcooking. An overcooked Brussels sprout is mushy, bitter, and smells bad. This is because too much heat releases glucosinolate sinigrin, responsible for a stinky sulfurous odor and flavor.

The solution is simple – boil or steam no more than 7 minutes.

Brussels sprouts are not a huge business, shamefully. Sales are a measly $27M dollar annually, with only 32,000 tons produced, mostly in California (compare that to broccoli with 1,200,000 tons a year).

What to do at the supermarket:

About 85% of sprouts are frozen and the remaining 15% are available fresh in season – fall and winter. A good frost or two actually help them to sweeten up a bit. If you buy fresh, look for any signs of yellowness, which means the sprouts are too old. The ideal sprouts are less than an inch in diameter, lively green and tightly formed.

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  • http://eduvert@gvtc.com ED

    Brussel sprouts which are wonderful and very good for you. Fresh ones(and even good quality frozen ones) are actually slightly sweet. Overcooking them makes them a bit bitter. And old ones are also bitter.

  • Timothy D. Lytton

    Another way to cook Brussel sprouts: lightly coat with olive oil, a little salt, and roast in the oven at 375 degrees until well roasted (30-40 mins approx).

  • http://www.betterschoolfood.org Dr. Susan Rubin

    Brussel sprouts are a must for every school garden.

  • youssef

    I like them!! I wanted to by some but they were almost white, when they become rotten, the guys there in that store, they just take of the outer old layer. So the Brussels sprout will become white or light green.
    I think the frozen ones are sometime are better that the fresh ones.

  • http://www.restoringnashville.org Miriam

    Had some with dinner tonight! Lightly steamed in a shallow pan with a bit of balsamic vinegar for maybe 5 minutes. They were fantastic.

  • Christel

    I love them in their raw form; try peeling the leaves off individually for a salad! kind of cabbagey-raw!

    I had no idea they grew in this fashion cool!

  • Esther

    Very yummy sauted with coconut oil and salt/pepper. Also you can buy the whole stalk at Trader Joes only $2.99 not organic however :(

  • Brooke

    You can also eat the leaves that grow in between the heads (not shown in the picture). They’re like collards, very dark and tasty.

  • Em

    They had a bunch of these whole brussel sprout stalks (or whatever you’d like to call them) at a local family farm store around where I live…thought it was interesting

  • Sparkina

    Oooh, Brussels sprouts are delish and I thought so even as a kid