Named after the capital
of Belgium, where they may have first been cultivated, Brussels sprouts
look like diminutive heads of cabbage. The resemblance is not surprising,
since both belong to the same botanical family. The golf-ball-size sprouts
grow in a tight spiral pattern on thick stalks with a burst of large
leaves at the top. The sprouts are usually cut off the stalk before
going to market.
to cabbage in taste, Brussels sprouts have a slightly milder flavour
and denser texture. Nutritionally, they have the same cancer-inhibiting
potential as cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli
and cauliflower) because they contain the nitrogen compounds called
indoles and a significant amount of vitamin C. Brussels sprouts also
supply good amounts of folate (folic acid), potassium, vitamin K, and
a small amount of beta-carotene.
Fresh Brussels sprouts should be displayed under refrigeration .If kept
at room temperature, their leaves will turn yellow quickly. It is easier
to choose sound sprouts if you can select them individually from a bulk
display. Choose sprouts of comparable size so they will cook evenly.
bright green colour is the best guide to freshness and good condition;
yellowed or wilted leaves are a sure sign of age or mishandling. Old
sprouts also have a strong smell . Avoid puffy or soft sprouts by choosing
small, firm, compact ones with unblemished leaves. The stem ends should
be clean and white.
Do not wash or trim sprouts before storing them. Except for removing
any that are yellow or wilted, do not remove the outer leaves, since
these contain the most nutrients. If you have purchased sprouts in a
cellophane-covered container, take off the wrapping and examine the
sprouts, then return them to the container, re-cover with the cellophane,
and refrigerate. Place loose sprouts in a perforated plastic bag. Fresh
Brussels sprouts will keep for three to five days.
Before cooking, drop the sprouts into a basin of lukewarm water and
leave them there for 10 minutes as this step will eliminate any insects
hidden in the leaves. Then rinse the sprouts in fresh water. Trim the
stem ends, but not quite flush with the bottoms of the sprouts, or the
outer leaves will fall off during cooking.
cooks cut an X in the base of each sprout. This nick helps the heat
penetrate the solid core so that it cooks as quickly as the leaves.