LONG ISLAND BRUSSLE SPROUTS
oleracea) : An
heirloom dating back to the 1890's, Long Island is still grown commercially.
As you can see from the picture on the far right, Brussels Sprouts grow a
tall stem and then sprout little cabbages all along the way. One stalk can
have 40 to 50 sprouts.
The leaves of Brussels sprouts get quite
large so the plant does require about 18 to 24 inches per plant. Since, Brussels
sprouts take a long time to grow quick crops like lettuce can be grown in
the empty spaces between plants. In cooler areas, transplant as soon as
possible in spring for a late summer harvest. Warmer summer areas can plant
early also but may not get a mature crop if temperatures get above 80. If
this happens, Brussels sprouts leaves can be harvested and are quite tasty.
Fall crop seedlings should be put into the garden about 90 days before your
first frost. Brussels sprouts that are almost mature can take light frost
and improve with flavor as the weather gets colder. Bottom leaves that
yellow or show signs of mildew should be removed and disposed of away from
Sprouts form at the base of the leaf,
starting at the bottom of the stalk, and can be harvested as soon as they
get between one and two inches in diameter. Twist off gently so as not to
damage the stalk and use as soon as possible. They can be refrigerated for a
couple of days in a sealed plastic bag. Wash right before using.
While the traditional method of cooking is
to boil the sprouts, this is also our least favorite. It is really easy to
over cook them this way producing a foul smelling, grayish orb we wouldn't
feed our cat or our family. By steaming, we can get the sprout to the stage
where the fork goes in but doesn't shatter the sprout. At this point we like
to cut them in half and fry in a little olive oil and butter. Frying until
golden brown allows the sweet, nutty flavor of the sprout to come out.
Toasted almonds and lemon juice added at the end are a nice touch too.