Pop Quiz: Can You Identify This Alien Vegetable? [Halloween Special]

Good Morning. And Happy Halloween!!

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 might recall this veggie from our childhood, and they are not fond memories.

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 the sprouts for 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, almost 40 times as much).

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.

Get FooducatediPhone App Android App  RSS Subscription or  Email Subscription

Follow us on twitter: twitter.com/fooducate on facebook: facebook.com/fooducateReblog this post [with Zemanta]

Get Fooducated

  • Brooke

    I like to braise my brussel sprouts.  I start with butter, olive oil or the rendered fat from diced bacon (favorite!).  Cut the sprouts in half or leave whole if small.  Allow to brown on one or two sides in fat, stirring once or twice.  Then add some stock (maybe 1 cup – chix or veggie is good) and cook until stock is reduced and the sprouts are tender. 

    • buggs

      love them that way without the stock though and throw some lemon juice or Romano cheese on top a favorite comfort food in the winter to be sure

  • http://twitter.com/lauren_015 Lauren Smith

    I roast mine in the oven. Mmmmmm!!

  • Mal

    I first saw these things just a few weeks ago at my Farmer’s Market. I was really surprised to see them on a stalk. 

    Your description of how some have experienced them as a child was my exact experience. But now they are one of my favorite veggies. Raw, steamed and smoothied are the typical ways I enjoy them.

  • Sophia grace

    Super yum! And awesome looking plant. This will be on my list for next spring’s garden!

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    I was thinking about making brussel sprouts with my lunch today and then came across this article. It’s a sign. Think I’ll roast them up with some garlic.

  • Ryans

    It is especially important to grow or buy organic Brussels sprouts and other things with tightly wrapped heads. the tight and layered heads trap pesticides and other adulterations, making them really hard to wash away.

  • Ryans

    It is especially important to grow or buy organic Brussels sprouts and other things with tightly wrapped heads. the tight and layered heads trap pesticides and other adulterations, making them really hard to wash away.

  • Kemal Kocak

    I love brussel sprouts. Cooked appropriately, they are sweet and just heavenly. :)

  • Loebjs

    my family rediscovered Russell sprouts after having had the “mushy” childhood experience…though mom covered them with toasted buttery bread crumbs which made them palatable, when my sis in law roasted them in the oven, coated in garlic, olive oil and salt. they actually caramelized a little a were delicious!!

  • http://groundcherry.wordpress.com Stephanie

    To avoid overcooking when steaming or boiling, cross hatch the base about 1/2 way up the sprout.  One of my favorites is: http://groundcherry.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/wild-rice-salad-with-brussels-sprouts/

  • Gerome

    Ben & Jerry’s newest flavor, “veggie balls”.

  • Monica

    Roast them in the oven or try this stovetop recipe: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/goldencrusted-brussels-sprouts-recipe.html

  • J in VA

    Brussel sprouts are my 12 yo’s favorite veggie!

  • J in VA

    Brussel sprouts are my 12 yo’s favorite veggie!

  • http://twitter.com/ChefMikedotca Chef Mike Benninger

    I like them blanched for 4-5 minutes in salty water or stock, then shock cold. Cut them in half when they’re cold, toss them with 3 TBSP canola oil and a 1 TBSP sesame oil, 1 TSP salt and 1/2 TSP pepper and 1 TSP sugar. Roast in an oven proof pan at 500F for 5 minutes, toss around and 5 minutes more…super stuff…

  • http://twitter.com/nutri_tweets NCES Catalog

    I actually just saw these a couple weeks ago at the Kansas City ‘City Market’! I had never seen brussel sprouts outside the store. Such a neat looking vegetable. And, it makes all the difference when you cook them fresh!

  • http://conuly.dreamwidth.org/ Uly

    I don’t use any wet heat to cook my sprouts, I roast or pan fry them.