Friday, October 26, 2012

Brussels Sprouts and other cabbages

Earlier today we were out in the garden harvesting the Brussels Sprouts.  Fresh sprouts are a favorite at our house.  Although we've harvested a little over a gallon, these won't last long.  When I was a kid, Brussels Sprouts were reserved for special occasions like Thanksgiving or Christmas.  I never understood why we couldn't have them more often.  Baby brussels sprouts have a mild cabbage like flavor that are delicious when roasted with root vegetables or lighty simmered in chicken broth (then garnished with crushed walnuts).

I was an adult the first time I saw how Brussels sprouts grow.  After the leaves develop, a small bud or node forms at the base where the leaf stem connects to the stalk.  I was told to wait until after the first frost before harvesting as the frost will 'sweeten' the sprouts.  I don't know how true this may be however with all the other garden work that needed to be completed earlier, it's nice to know some vegetables are happy to wait their turn.

To harvest Brussels Sprouts, one must first cut the stalk.  We find that a pair of heavy duty limb loppers, like the ones one would use to cut small branches, works remarkably well.  Next step is to remove the loose leaves.  Finally remove the sprouts.

There are several methods for removing sprouts from the stalk: the first method is to gently grasp the sprout and twist to remove it.  The second method is to simply cut them off.  Be very careful using this method.  The sprouts are small and sometimes difficult to negotiate.  Wash the sprouts, discarding any yellowed leaves.  These are now ready to use.

Although there are some folks who enjoy the leaves, they are a little too fiberous for my taste.  However there are some ladies I know who love them.  And once again the sounds of happy hens can be heard in Chickenland.

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