You may have already begun the process of harvesting the Brussels sprouts in your garden. If not, it’s time to start thinking about it! Brussels sprouts season is technically from September through February, but the best time to pick these round, green veggies is after a light frost or two. Sprouts are best suited to sunny days with chilly nights. That’s because the freezing temperatures signal the release of sugars within the sprouts. The result: a sweeter, yummier harvest for you! Just make sure to get these green beauties in your kitchen before a hard freeze hits, as this is likely to damage the plants.
Think your Brussels sprouts are ripe for the picking? Check to make sure they’ve grown to about 1 inch in diameter. They should feel compact and firm if you give a light squeeze. Once you’ve determined the time is right, harvest them from the bottom of the stalk.
Take sprouts off the stalk and place them directly in the fridge without washing. You should wash them only right before you’re ready to use them! Brussels sprouts can last several weeks in the refrigerator if you keep the outer leaves intact and store in an uncovered bowl or lid-less storage container. Just remove the leaves before cooking; the delicious center of the sprout will still pack a punch with plenty of flavor! Alternatively, you can keep sprouts in the fridge in a sealed container for about five days, and the whole plant will be fresh and ready to eat. Of course, the sooner you chow down on them, the better. Flavor is always at its peak the first day or two after harvest!
You can also freeze you Brussels sprouts– this is great technique if you’re hoping to make a soup from them, as they tend to cook faster once frozen. If the sprouts are headed for the freezer, trim off coarse outer leaves and wash the veggies in cool water. Blanch 3-5 minutes (the smallest for three minutes, the largest for five) and plunge the sprouts immediately into ice water. Drain, then store in an air-tight bag in the freezer.
Your Brussels sprouts can take center stage in any number of scrumptious and elaborate Thanksgiving recipes. But this member of the cabbage family is also delicious dressed down. Try slicing them, tossing with salt and olive oil, then roasting in a hot oven until a golden color appears around the cut edges and those outer leaves turn crispy. Another yummy option: steam the Brussel sprouts, then sauté with roasted chestnuts, vinegar and carrot slices.