The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Enjoying the first Brussels sprouts

Harvesting Brussels sproutsI'm not sure how many Brussels sprouts we'll get before extreme cold wipes the plants out, but our first harvest netted rave reviews from Mark.  I tossed them with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roasted them in the oven until they turned bright green.  "These are even better than roast figs!" proclaimed my kind husband.

Of the bulkier crucifers (exempting the leafy greens), broccoli is the most frost tender.  Even though ours are still churning out side shoots, these are less crisp and I can tell the harvest is coming to an end.  Our cabbages survived hard freezes in the garden, but I opted to move them to the root cellar to ensure they don't die before winter feasts use them up.  Meanwhile, the Brussels sprouts seem largely unaffected by lows that have nearly hit 20.

Homegrown Brussels sproutsThe extra cold hardiness is a boon because Brussels sprouts take forever to ripen up.  We planted ours at the same time as the cabbage and broccoli, and have only had a small handful to eat.  I'm hopeful that we'll get more sprouts all the way through to December, and if not, I'll just plant earlier next year --- I'm starting to get the impression Mark could eat Brussels sprouts every day in November just like we enjoyed broccoli in October.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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How long did it take approximately to bake them? I'm not a big fan of brussels sprouts (they're horrible when boiled, I think), but I figured I'd try this.

I like baking potato wedges in the oven, that takes about 20 minutes. Could I put the sprouts in with the 'taters, or would that be too long?

Comment by Roland_Smith Mon Nov 12 12:35:14 2012
Roland --- I should have looked at a clock, but I didn't. I'm guessing maybe 10 to 15 minutes? If you cut your potato wedges a bit smaller, it might work to put them together. Or, better yet, roast the brussels sprouts in a separate container so you can take them out earlier. I hope it changes your mind about Brussels sprouts. :-)
Comment by anna Mon Nov 12 13:17:09 2012
What temperature do you roast them at?
Comment by April Connett Mon Nov 12 16:42:03 2012

A lot of this country's brussel sprouts are grown around Santa Cruz, CA, close to here. We eat about a half-a-stalk every week when they're in season. I just read an article that said that in the past 30 yrs, growers have worked on breeding sprouts to be sweeter and not as sulfurous. Like you, we love them roasted with a little olive oil and salt. Hot oven, about 20min when they start getting crispy and brownish on the edges, soft when poked with a knife. My 7-yr old can eat the whole bowl by himself. Just so you know, the leaves of the plant are delicious too, so don't throw them to the chickens just yet! Slice them finely into ribbons and cook with a little ham or bacon, thyme, splash of water. When they're tender, top with a sliced boiled egg and croutons. Pour a vinegarette over the top - olive oil, little lemon, apple cider vinegar, little bit of mustard.

Comment by Rena Mon Nov 12 16:59:46 2012

April --- I believe I roasted this set at 350 because I was baking cookies, but if I'm in a big hurry and not doubling up the oven, I'll go as high as 475 to get'r done. :-)

Rena --- Good data about the new varieties of Brussels sprouts. I definitely approve of breeding for increased flavor!

Comment by anna Mon Nov 12 18:11:52 2012
Those do sound good! I planted my fall cabbages too late ( went by the frost dates) but here at altitude temps really drop at night. Last night it was 3 degrees. But believe it or not, my still-immature cabbages, which I transplanted to the cold frame in a desparate attempt to save them, survived such deep cold, with only a light bulb for warmth. Even more amazing was finding volunteer cilantro growing in among the carrots and lettuce already in the frame.
Comment by Deb Mon Nov 12 21:01:43 2012
I live in downeast Maine, and am just beginning to grow my own vegetables, but my grandfather, and great-grandfather were both avid, and successful gardeners. They grew nearly all of the produce that their large families ate. My mother tells me, and I've corroborated with several other locals who attest to similar stories, that while growing up, her father kept the Brussles sprouts in the ground until they were eaten. He simply went out and took what he wanted and never bothered to harvest for the root cellar at all. Mom tells me she remembers many times when he would be digging down into the snow in order to get to the plants. I would think your plants would last very well in the ground.
Comment by Jeff Alley Wed Nov 14 07:52:41 2012

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