How to Purchase, Store, and Prep Brussels Sprouts
In case you haven’t noticed, Brussels sprouts are really popular right now, especially since more and more people have figured out how to properly prepare them. Once maligned as being the cute but stinky little cousin of the cabbage, Brussels sprouts were simply boiled to a near mush and drowned in butter. No more! Just like other cabbages and green leafy vegetables these small green sprouts can be used raw in salads or slaws, prepared in the slow cooker, and roasted alongside other hearty vegetables.
How to Purchase Loose
Most often you will find Brussels sprouts sold individually, by the pound. Avoid those with leaves that have holes or are shriveled, wrinkling, or withered. Some dried or yellow outer leaves are okay, but the leaves should be tightly layered together. Sprouts should feel firm when squeezed and choose those that are only 1 to 11⁄2 inches in diameter. Smaller Brussels sprouts are more tender and sweeter than the larger ones, which can taste more like cabbage.
How to Store Loose
Remove any damaged or loose outer leaves, place fresh, unwashed Brussels sprouts in a zip-top bag or produce bag, and store in the in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. They will last a couple of weeks but try to use them as soon as possible; they tend to lose sweetness as they age, and their flavor will start to become unpleasant and strong after three or four days.
Choose Brussels Sprouts on the Stalk
If you happen to find Brussels sprouts on the stalk, buy them. Sprouts on the stalk stay fresher for a longer period of time than loose sprouts. Store the stalks in fresh water, like flowers, and use a knife to remove them from the stalk before preparing. As Brussels sprouts age, they lose their sweetness and moisture content, so keep them on the stalk as long as possible to help retain their volume and plumpness.
Best Time to Buy
Late fall to early winter is when you’ll find the best Brussels sprouts. Although readily available almost year-round, it is best to purchase them in their peak season. The size of the sprout is an indicator of its flavor.
WATCH: Brussels Sprouts with Cornbread Croutons
Brussels sprouts are one of those vegetables, like cabbage and broccoli, with a popularity that has soared thanks to modern cooking techniques. Serve raw in salads and slaws or roast alongside roasts and other vegetables.
Enjoy Brussels Sprouts Raw or Cooked
Like their larger cabbage cousin, tiny Brussels Sprouts can be eaten either raw or cooked. When using raw, such as in fresh slaws and salads, it’s best to cut each sprout crosswise so the leaves separate into thin, lettuce-like shavings. Choose your method when cooking Brussels Sprouts; they can be boiled, roasted, steamed, braised, sautéed, and even pickled. Remember to cook them just until tender — any longer and they will get bitter and mushy, that texture that has given Brussels sprouts such a bad name in the past.