Brussel sprout – Ruusukaali
Brassica oleracea var. Gemmifera
Brussel sprouts are edible leaf buds growing at the leaf axils along the plant stem. When ready they should be 15-40mm in diameter, a fresh waxy green colour, feel firm and with a maximum of 1-2 loose leaves. Sprouts are removed from the stem as they become ready, usually between 90-120 days after planting depending on the variety. The sprouts at the base of the stem being the first to mature.
After harvesting sprouts are size graded into small, medium or large, improving appearance and quality with uniformity. Common quality problems are over- or undersized sprouts, softness and leafiness, yellowing of outer leaves and internal browning.
Nutritionally speaking sprouts are and excellent source of fiber, vit. C, B9 and K, beta-carotene and minerals. They are rapidly becoming associated with a heathy diet.
Growing sprouts is not easy, they attract many pests, require a long growing season, excellent soil fertility and drainage. Tips include choosing the best fast growing varieties, using fleeces and insect nets, do not plant to densely(min,50x50cm), give some extra organic fertilizers during the growing season, and make sure you irrigate before it gets too dry. The top (apical bud) of the plant can be removed about 1 week to 10 days before the lower sprouts are fully ready, encouraging the upper sprouts to mature quicker.
Fresh sprouts are available from mid- August to early December and can be stored in the fridge after harvesting for up to 2 Weeks. Sprouts harvested mid to late season often have a better flavour.