Forerunners to modern Brussels sprouts were likely cultivated in ancient Rome. Brussels sprouts as we now know them were grown possibly as early as the 13th century in what is now Belgium. The first written reference dates to 1587. During the 16th century they enjoyed a popularity in the southern Netherlands that eventually spread throughout the cooler parts of Northern Europe.
Brussels sprouts grow in temperature ranges of 7 to 24°C (45 to 75°F), with highest yields at 15 to 18°C (59 to 64°F). Plants grow from seeds in seedbeds or greenhouses, and are transplanted to growing fields. Fields are ready for harvest 90 to 180 days after planting. The edible sprouts grow like buds in a spiral array on the side of long thick stalks of approximately 60 to 120 cm (24 to 47 in) in height, maturing over several weeks from the lower to the upper part of the stalk. Sprouts may be picked by hand into baskets, in which case several harvests are made of 5 to 15 sprouts at a time, by cutting the entire stalk at once for processing, or by mechanical harvester, depending on variety. Each stalk can produce 1.1 to 1.4 kg (2.4 to 3.1 lb), although the commercial yield is approximately 900 g (2.0 lb) per stalk. In the home garden, "sprouts are sweetest after a good, stiff frost."
They contain good amounts of vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, folic acid and dietary fiber. Moreover, they are believed to protect against colon cancer, due to their containing sinigrin. Although they contain compounds such as goitrin that can act as goitrogens and interfere with thyroid hormone production, realistic amounts in the diet do not seem to have any effect on the function of the thyroid gland in humans. Cooking methods include boiling, steaming and roasting. Overcooking releases the glucosinolate sinigrin, which has a sulfurous odor. The odor is the reason many people profess to dislike Brussels sprouts, if they've only tried them overcooked with the accompanying sulfurous taste and smell. Generally 6–7 minutes boiled or steamed is enough to cook them thoroughly, without overcooking and releasing the sinigrin.
The Sprout Book: A Celebration of the Humble Brussels Sproutt
Buy Now from Amazon!