The name “Brussels sprouts” conjures up two emotions. You either love them or hate them. These mini cabbage-like vegetables do have a distinct flavor and aroma. But, once you discover how beneficial they are to your overall health, you may want to reserve room in your fall garden patch for these plants.
No one is sure exactly where Brussels sprouts originate. Belgium seems likely, thus the name. They are very cold tolerant, which makes them an excellent choice to grow in northern gardens because they will survive the first frosts. Known as Brassica oleracea from the Gemmifera Group, theses one to two inch members of the cabbage or kale family sprout from one main stem in clusters securely nestled within large green leaves.
Growing Brussels Sprouts
They do take time to grow and require a great deal of monitoring and maintenance. However, once they get started, these plants become quite hardy. They are disease resistant, but not insect resistant.
The time of year to plant Brussels sprouts in important. If the temperature rises over 80 degrees too much or dips below 20 degrees for long, the plants will taste more bitter. Their heads may be less compact if exposed to very warm weather.
Even though the seeds can be planted directly into fertile soil in the cool autumn, many people choose to grow the seeds in a cool, dry place then transplant the sprouting plants. Just be sure to plant them deeply so the stems don’t become scraggly and overburdened or top heavy.
The typical growing period is 75-90 days before harvesting. Since Brussels sprouts grow from the bottom up, be sure to prune the leaves and pick the cabbages nearer the soil first then progress upwards as the season continues.
Three varieties of Brussels sprouts are typically grown in gardens. Each has slightly different growing cycles.
- The Diablo is ready for harvest in 125 days
- The Jack Cross Hybrid in 95 days
- The Long Island Improved in 90 days
Brussels Sprouts Nutritional Values
Brussels sprouts, like most leafy green vegetables are low in calories and high in fiber, so they fill you up and satisfy your hunger as well as assist your digestive system in functioning properly. But they are also high in protein. For dieters, this is a great alternative to more fat concentrated and cholesterol laden meats or dairy products. The vegetable is also a great source for Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium, folacin and potassium.
The average serving of 1/2 cup of fresh, cooked
Brussels sprouts yields
Fat 1 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Carbohydrates 7 g
Protein 2 g
Fiber 2 g
Sodium 17 mg
Vitamin C 78 mg
Vitamin A 604 UI
Potassium 247 mg
Folic Acid 47 mcg
Carotenoids 1369 mcg
Preparing Brussels Sprouts
As with any fresh vegetable or fruit, wash the Brussels sprouts thoroughly before cooking them.
Brussels sprouts do not provide a complete protein, so they should be consumed with a whole grain if at all possible to make sure you are getting a good supply of amino acids, especially if you are a vegetarian. So those who are gluten intolerant should be cautious. Because of their high fiber content, they can give people gas, similar to broccoli.
Some people simply cannot get past the aroma they give off when cooking or the taste. One alternative is not to boil them, which can reduce their nutritional value, but to roast them with a brush of olive oil and cracked pepper.
Brussels Sprouts Cautions and Concerns
Many people claim that eating Brussels sprouts can prevent or even shrink cancers. Their alkaline content can combat heterocyclic amine carcinogenic acids and encourage detoxification in the body, but so do digesting other healthy, cruciferous vegetables.
If you can, grow them without harmful chemicals or pesticides for better health benefits.