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Brussels sprouts on stalks
Brussels sprouts can be a nutritious treat

Janet Hackert, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Harrison County, University of Missouri Extension


Brussels sprouts, the green cruciferous vegetables sometimes referred to by children as “cannon balls,” are not typically a favorite from the vegetable group. But when they are selected well, eaten soon after picking and cooked properly, they can be a nutritious treat.


Like many vegetables, Brussels sprouts are low fat, low calorie and very low sodium while providing a good source of dietary fiber, folate, vitamin C and vitamin K.


Brussels sprouts grow in an interesting manner. Best harvested when they are about an inch in diameter, the sprouts, or small cabbage-shaped heads, grow in clusters up a central, woody stalk. They are best harvested from the bottom up, as the heads form and grow. Choose tight bright green heads, free of yellowing leaves. When the sprouts get too big, they can get bitter like their cruciferous “cousins” such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish or kale.


Ideally, fresh Brussels sprouts can be held in cold, moist storage (32 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 90 to 95 percent relative humidity) in a perforated plastic bag for up to three weeks. If there are more than can be used in that amount of time, they do freeze well.


To freeze, “select green, firm and compact heads. Trim, removing coarse outer leaves. Wash thoroughly and immerse in brine (4 teaspoons salt to 1 gallon of water for 30 minutes) to remove insects. Sort into small, medium and large sizes. Water blanch small heads 3 minutes, medium heads 4 minutes, and large heads 5 minutes. Cool promptly, drain, package, seal and freeze.” (from MU Extension Publication Quality for Keeps: Freezing Vegetables, GH1503).


They can also be pickled. A safe recipe and procedure for this can be found on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.


Brussels sprouts can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. The Fruits and Veggies More Matters website suggests trying them:

  • Roasted at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes
  • Grilled on a vegetable kebob
  • Blanched, sautéed with garlic and onion, and tossed with vinegar and parmesan cheese
  • Stir fried
  • Chopped in a pot pie recipe
  • Broiled with a mustard glaze


There are many options for preparing Brussels sprouts so keep in mind that if you do not care for them one way, you may find them delicious another way.


For more information on growing, selecting, harvesting, storing or serving Brussels sprouts, contact Janet Hackert at 660-425-6434 or or contact your local University of Missouri Extension office.


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Last update: Tuesday, June 02, 2015