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Time for sprouts — the veg most people either love or hate

Time for sprouts — the veg most people either love or hate

Those who hate these little green gems have probably only tasted them when overcooked, because after eight minutes’ cooking, sprouts start to release their sulphur compounds, giving rise to the unpleasant smell and strong taste often associated with the vegetable.

For the perfect – and healthiest – sprouts, the British Nutrition Foundation advises that you cook them for between five and eight minutes – certainly no longer. Steaming is the healthiest and tastiest way to cook sprouts as the valuable nutrients and flavour are not lost in the cooking water.

Buying and cooking sprouts

  • Choose small, green sprouts for the best flavour and firm compact ones for a good texture. The cut end (the butt) of the sprout shouldn’t be brown – this indicates that the sprout isn’t as fresh as it should be
  • Wash thoroughly in cold water, trim off any damaged leaves and trim the base if necessary
  • To cross or not to cross: opinions are divided about whether to cross a sprout or not. General advice is that crosses should only be put in larger sprouts to ensure that the thick stem cooks at the same rate as the leaves.
  • Try some new ways with sprouts:
    • Toss in butter and sesame seeds or top with crispy bacon before serving
    • Raw shredded sprouts are a great addition to stir fries
    • Sauté chopped sprouts with bacon – a great accompaniment to sausages or pork chops
    • Add some toasted almonds or, for a Christmas feel, peeled, cooked chestnuts, for extra texture before serving
    • Fry leftover sprouts with some mashed potato to make bubble and squeak
    • Toss sprouts in butter and add lemon rind for a citrus twist, or a few chopped chillies for a bit of a kick
    • For caramelised sprouts, put cooked sprouts in a pan with a knob of butter and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and season. Cook until caramelised.

Sprouts Festival

On 13 and 14 November, Worcester will be holding a festival to celebrate British Brussels Sprouts. The Brussels Sprout & Local Produce Fayre takes place in Cathedral Plaza, 24 College Street, Worcester WR1 2LU and incorporates a local produce market. The Fayre will run from 12.00–20.00 on 13 November and 11.00-17.00 on 14 November.

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