Brussels sprouts, the green cruciferous vegetables sometimes referred to by children as “cannon balls,” are not typically a favorite from the vegetable group. But when they are selected well, eaten soon after they are picked and cooked properly, they can be a nutritious treat.

Brussels sprouts on stalksLike many vegetables, Brussels sprouts are low-fat, low-calorie and very low-sodium, and provide a good source of dietary fiber, folate, vitamin C and vitamin K.

Brussels sprouts grow in an interesting manner. Best harvested when they are about an inch in diameter, the sprouts, or small cabbage-shaped heads, grow in clusters up a central, woody stalk. They should be harvested from the bottom up, as the heads form and grow. Choose tight bright green heads, free of yellowing leaves. When the sprouts get too big, they can get bitter like their cruciferous cousins, such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish or kale.

You can store fresh Brussels sprouts in cold, moist storage (32 to 40 degrees F and 90 to 95 percent relative humidity) in a perforated plastic bag for up to three weeks. If you have more than you can use in that amount of time, they do freeze well.

To freeze, select green, firm and compact heads. Trim, removing coarse outer leaves. Wash them thoroughly and immerse them in brine (4 teaspoons salt to 1 gallon of water) for 30 minutes to remove insects. Sort into small, medium and large sizes. Water blanch small heads for 3 minutes, medium heads for 4 minutes and large heads for 5 minutes. Cool promptly, drain, package, seal and freeze.

You can enjoy Brussels sprouts in a variety of ways. Try...

  • Roasting halved Brussels sprouts in olive oil at 400 degrees F until lightly browned (30-40 minutes).
  • Grilling them on a vegetable kebab.
  • Blanching and then sautéeing Brussels sprouts with garlic and onion, and tossing them with vinegar and Parmesan cheese.
  • Stir-fried Brussels sprouts.
  • Adding chopped Brussels sprouts to a potpie recipe.
  • Broiling them with a mustard glaze.

Keep in mind that if you do not care for Brussels sprouts prepared one way, there are a host of other preparation options that you may find delicious.