What are Brussels sprouts and what can I do with them?

Brussels sprouts are often overlooked as a green vegetable, but are plentiful at markets in the fall and in the nutrients they provide.

Have you walked through a farmers market and caught sight of these cabbage-like miniatures and shied away from purchasing them because you didn’t know what they were? People often think they are cabbage, but in fact they are Brussels sprouts. Maybe you have never tasted a Brussels sprout and don’t know how to cook them? If so, you are not alone. Like a lot of fellow shoppers, you may be afraid to try something you are unfamiliar with.

Some farmers bring Brussels sprout vegetables to the market on a large stalk, while others may trim them and have on display in quart baskets. Purchasing the stalk just means a little extra preparation on the part of the shopper to cut them off.

Unfortunately, the Brussels sprout tops a lot of lists as the most hated vegetable. Learning some quick and easy preparation methods may make you a lover of this vegetable. Eating vegetables can help you to lose weight, eat healthier and when you shop at farmers markets, you are supporting the local agricultural economy.

Brussels sprouts are a great source of vitamins A, B and C; niacin; iron and calcium. This vegetable is similar to cabbage in taste, but has a milder flavor.

At the farmers market or local grocery store, purchase sprouts that are bright green and make sure they are small, firm and compact as they will be the freshest.

When you purchase Brussels sprouts, it is a good idea not to wash or trim before you store them in the refrigerator. To protect yourself and family from a foodborne illness it is important to wash the vegetables just before preparing your recipes. Use within a week of purchase.

This vegetable can be prepared by steaming, parboiling or oven roasting with olive oil – you don’t want to overcook them as they will become stronger in flavor. Cook until they turn a brighter green and are tender but still firm.

For more information on preparing and preserving Brussels sprouts, see the Michigan Fresh fact sheets on the Michigan State University Extension website. Visitors to the site have an opportunity to complete a survey on future uses of this information as well as other topics to be developed.

MSU Extension has educators who provide community food systems educational programming and assistance. For more information, you can contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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