The Brussels sprout is a member of the cabbage, or cruciferous family. (Variety gemmifer, species brassica oleracea) It is a bud on a stalk. It looks like a small cabbage head that grows on a thick stalk. The individual leaves can be removed from the head. There are approximately 20 - 40 buds per stalk. The whole stalk looks similar to “bells on a sleigh rein”.
Brussels sprouts contain a chemical called isothiocyanates. (Prevents carcinogens from being absorbed into the body) It causes sulfur compounds to be produced when heated. If the vegetable is overheated, the sulfur will intensify and become more unpleasant.
Brussels sprouts are native to the Mediterranean seaboard, first cultivated around the 5th century. However, they got their name from the town of Brussels, in Belgium, where they were immensely popular.
Brussels sprouts come are in season from late fall and winter, and sometimes last into spring. Fresh Brussels sprouts should be tight and firm. Remove any outer blemished leaves, and trim off any discolored bottoms.
Since they are a member of the cabbage family- they can be eaten raw, however the intensity of the flavor will change with the addition of heat. By placing the sprouts into already boiling salted water (either whole or halved) and cooking until tender, it will help leach out some of the sulfur. The flavor of Brussels sprouts will be greatly improved if by, after blanching, applying high dry heat in order to reduce the sulfur components and inc