Brassica oleracea ‘Gemmifera’
These miniature leafy green cabbages were likely cultivated in ancient Rome but their more common name is derived from Brussels where it was re-discovered in the 16th century.
We started harvesting our 2 varieties, ‘Red Ball’ and ‘Helemus’, a couple of weeks ago. We choose an open pollinated variety. This allows us to be able to supply the kitchen through the coming weeks and months because of its growth habit; the gems gradually develop up the stem.
Brussel Sprouts are considered to be sweeter after the first frost because the production of stored starches is reversed, converting them back to sugars. The purple variety is especially flavourful.
These little cabbages can have a bad reputation, partly because of its traditional boiling method. This is a shame as they are packed with exceptionally high amounts of vitamins and minerals. Steaming will avoid an unpleasant smell while retaining high vitamin levels and a superior taste. There are many recipes out there, however.
(Does anyone have a favourite recipe?)