When and How to Harvest Brussels Sprouts - Backyard Boss
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When and How to Harvest Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are easy to grow in home gardens and are at their peak from fall through to spring. As cruciferous vegetables, they join the Brassicaceae family alongside others, like cabbage, cauliflower, and kale.

Cruciferous vegetables have a sulfur-containing phytochemical called glucosinolate, which is responsible for the distinctive odor and bitter flavorHowever, this veggie is a delicious addition to any dinner table. It only needs proper harvesting and cooking to bring out its nutty sweetness. Not only can they taste delicious, but brussels sprouts have anti-cancer properties. They are also an excellent source of vitamins C and K, folate, carotenoids, and fiber.

With a garden full of brussels sprouts, are you ready to tap into their goodness? Learn when and how to harvest those sprouts for the highest quality and flavor!

Tools You’ll Need

Brussels sprouts and green cabbage growing in wooden boxes in the middle of a city as an example of urban argiculture or gardening
Image credits: INTREEGUE Photography via Shutterstock

As a cool weather crop, consider bundling up before heading out to harvest your brussels sprouts! Aside from a warm sweater, here are a few tools to help ensure a quality harvest.

  • Garden gloves
  • Sharp knife/garden shears

When to Harvest Your Sprouts

Brussels sprouts in winter on field covered snow
Image credits: Lubos Chlubny via Shutterstock

Brussels sprout’s growing season is from spring to fall. As the last vegetable often left in the garden, harvesting these “mini-cabbages” begins in mid-October, depending on the hardiness zone in which you reside. Exposing brussels sprouts to a couple of frosts before harvesting them is ideal, as cold weather enhances their flavor and quality.

You can keep these veggies in your garden if temperatures do not dip below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Brussels sprouts are harvest-ready once firm, small (not exceeding 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter), and bright green.

How to Harvest Brussels Sprouts

Brussel Sprout harvest
Image credits: John-Morgan via Creative Commons

Preparing brussels sprouts for harvest to ensure optimal quality and flavor should start a few weeks before the actual veggies are ready. The growth pattern of this plant is bottom-up, meaning the sprouts at the bottom will mature first. Once the lowest brussels sprouts have grown to an inch in diameter, cut the top 1 to 2 inches off the plant.

Removing this portion of the plant will help encourage the upper sprouts to enlarge. Removing some of the lower leaves may help with growth as well. However, it is important to keep the upper leaves to help continue feeding the plant. Once the brussels sprouts grow to the appropriate size of 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter, it is time to harvest them!

Method 1: Harvest Individual Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts on cutting board
Image credits: CogSciLibrarian via Pixabay

The first method of harvesting is simply picking or cutting the sprout off the stalk. Start with the lower sprouts and pick as the other sprouts mature. Harvesting brussels sprouts in this way allows for more to grow on the stalk while you harvest, which can happen well into the snow season! If gathering this way, remember to adequately support the stalk, if necessary, with a stake to help it stay upright. Keep picked sprouts fresh in the refrigerator for a few weeks.

Method 2: Harvest The Stalk

brussels sprouts on stalk
Image credits: Skitterphoto via Pixabay

The second way to harvest your brussels sprouts is to remove all the leaves from the stalk and cut the entire stalk from the plant at the soil level. Keeping sprouts on the stalk in this way provides nourishment to the sprouts even after harvesting. Cut or pick the sprouts off the stalk as you need, keeping in mind to use them within a few weeks.

Storage Tips

Brussels Sprouts
Image credits: Keenan Loo via Unsplash

There are many ways to store brussels sprouts if you are not using them immediately. To store a stalk of sprouts, simply hang it upright in a cellar or cool dark space. To keep single sprouts in the refrigerator, place them unwashed in a plastic bag and keep removing any yellow or black leaves that may appear for up to two weeks.

Freeze them to keep for three to five weeks. To do so, remove the outer layer of leaves, wash the sprout thoroughly, and blanch for three to five minutes, depending on their size. Blanching the sprouts before freezing helps to retain optimal quality and flavor.

Pro Tip: When cooking your brussels sprouts, make sure not to overdo it! Boiling them for too long will amplify their strong, bitter flavor. Instead, try oven-roasting them for optimal sweetness.  

Too Cool!

Brussels sprouts genuinely do have so much to offer! Making sure to harvest after a few exposures to frost will only enhance their flavor. Proper storage will allow you to enjoy them late into the season! All it takes is following a few tips to make growing and harvesting this veggie easy and delicious.

Do you grow these in your home garden? How late in the season do you harvest? Comment below with how your harvest is going, and share with fellow Brussels sprout lovers!

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