Quality Insights

Supplying and Stocking the Best Brussels Sprouts

18 November 2019

01 January 2017

As winter arrives there's one vegetable that's excitedly awaited and dreaded in equal measure. The Brussels Sprout. Or is it the Brussel Sprout?

Despite not knowing if it was actually cultivated in Brussels the Brussels Sprout does indeed need an "s" after the Brussel and not the Sprout. Our research has shown us that many consumers especially in the UK, actually call this item the Brussel Sprout.

So what is the history of this small round green vegetable? Here's a few facts you might not know about these round greens:

  • The UK is particularly keen on this vegetable, consuming more than most other countries in Europe.
    Brussels Sprout fields in the UK cover an area equal to over 3,000 football pitches.
    Sprouts are full of vitamins and dietary fibre that is very good for our diets.
    The Guiness World Record for the most Brussels Sprouts eaten in one minute is 31, achieved by Linus Urbanec from Sweden in 2008.
    In 1992 Bernard Lavery in the UK grew a Brussels Sprout that weighed 8.3 kg (18 lb 3 oz).
    The strong flavour that people often dislike in sprouts can be due to over cooking.
    Brussels Sprouts are part of the Brassica family, or the Cruciferous family which also contains cabbage, broccoli and horseradish.
    Despite looking a bit like a cabbage head, Brussels Sprouts actually grow from the base of the stem and grow upward. This plant style was achieved by cross breeding and can sometimes be achieved on a cabbage plant by cutting off the top of the stem before the head is formed.
    There are records of Brussels Sprouts around where Brussels is, going back to the 13th Century. It is also recorded that the Romans cultivated them before they were widely grown.
    The little leafy vegetables are usually 2.5cm–4cm in diameter and look like mini cabbages

It's not really known who originally cultivated the bred Brussels Sprout but it is believed the name was coined in France in the 18th Century. It wasn't unusual to name a food after a landmark, but whether they were developed in Brussels, Belgium is not known.

The Cabbage Family vegetables are said to have been cultivated for many years, mainly because the plants have a great tolerance to salt and limestone and other harsh soils. It's not known where these plants started though. Many wild plants that resemble leafy kale were selected and crossbred to what has become the varieties we known today, including broccoli, cauliflower, wasabi etc. Many of these plants grow in winter and so they provided good food and nutrition in colder climates.

When looking for the perfect sprout, consumers should be checking they have a small, tight head with a vibrant green colour and a firm texture. How they are cooked will influence the flavour and educating consumers on the best way to do this can ensure they get the best sprout experience possible.

As families argue whether or not this small green vegetable should have a place at the dinner table, we are assessing the quality of these small, colourful vegetables. Seen in decorations, gifts, wrapping paper and napkins this vegetable has made itself a very close relationship with December and the festive period, but they are actually consumed from October to March.

At Innovative Fresh we monitor fresh produce every week, testing for brix and quality. Let us help you to finetune your winter produce programme, to give the consumer the best in fresh.

If you want help providing the best quality fresh produce to your consumers, get in touch with us at info@innovativefresh.com


Sign-up to our weekly reports

Thank you - we've subscribed you to our free weekly report.