Do Those Sprouts Really Come from Brussels?

Probably not. Brussels sprouts may be grown in your very own home garden and still qualify as Brussels sprouts, though they are very popular and may have originated in Brussels, Belgium. Whether you actually have Brussels sprouts growing in your garden right now might depend on where you live and what the weather has been like this year, but as long as you have access to a grocery store with a healthy selection of seasonal vegetables, you can probably find some sprouts nearby. The best time to buy Brussels sprouts is between September and March. Brussels sprouts are notable not just for their unusual appearance, but also for their hardiness in cold weather. They are even said to be best when harvested after a couple of good freezes.

So it may not be surprising then that freezing Brussels Sprouts is a highly recommend method of preserving them. They will maintain best quality for up to 12 months in a 0°F freezer. To prepare them for freezing, select green, firm, and compact heads, removing any insects and course outer leaves. Wash well, then sort into small, medium, and large sizes if size variance is notable. Water blanch small heads for 3 minutes, medium heads for 4 minutes and large heads for 5 minutes. Cool them quickly in cold water or an ice bath, drain thoroughly, and package with no headspace. Then simply seal the containers and place in the freezer. To have properly proportioned serving sizes straight from the freezer and ready to be cooked, note that 5-6 sprouts equal one serving and/or one pound equals four servings.

If you’re feeling adventurous, then you might like also to try canning Pickled Brussels Sprouts. You may not have tried these before — the brine imparts flavor that is typical of many vegetable pickles while the texture is certainly more difficult to come by. Brussels Sprout pickles are made by boiling the clean sprouts in salt water (4 tsp canning salt per gallon), then cooling them while you prepare the brine that will be poured over the sprouts once they are in jars; the brine is a mixture of vinegar, sugar, onion, diced red pepper, mustard seed, celery seed, turmeric, and hot red pepper flakes. For the complete recipe, detailed instructions, and canning process time, see the recommendation in the link above. The same recipe and canning process is used for cauliflower too, so if you have some cauliflower flowerets around you could make both kinds (note that Brussels sprouts need to boil in the salt water for one minute longer than cauliflower).

Some of the information in this entry comes from Buying, Using, and Storing Vegetables from the University of Georgia.