Brussels Sprouts Success!

For years, we’ve planted Brussels sprouts, but we’ve never managed to harvest more than just a handful of tiny sprouts, whether due to late planting, trouble with the weather, or greedy chickens and groundhogs. 

Well, this year is finally different!

The original Brussels sprouts we started from seed in the garden struggled in the drought, so we replaced them with transplants from a local nursery — I was lucky to find them, as these aren’t the world’s most popular vegetable. I only brought home a single six-pack, and we had decided that this would be the last year we devoted any space at all to a plant that was giving us such a poor return on the effort. 

Along the way, groundhogs nibbled on the small plants, and we thought they were goners. They bounced back, and then the drought stunted everything in the garden. We thought they were done. 

But by August we had small sprouts forming between the larger leaves, and I cut the tops of the stalks off to encourage the sprouts to fill out. Thanks to our relatively mild fall and late frost, they matured, and we have bona fide Brussels sprouts for the first time ever.

Since it’s still in the 30s over night, these are tough enough to just stay out in the garden for “storage” until we want to eat them. We cut the stalk you see above for a side dish the other night: 

Letting them get kissed by the frost actually makes the Brussels sprouts quite sweet, so if you think you don’t like them, you should get a stalk from your farmers’ market right now — it’s the best time of year for fresh Brussels sprouts. 

Kirk made these by chopping up a slice of bacon and cooking it in a medium pan, then adding the trimmed sprouts once the fat rendered to grease the surface. He poured in a bit of water and partially covered the pan with a lid to steam the sprouts. He would check as the water evaporated to add more as necessary; once the largest was tender, he finished them with a clover of garlic, salt, pepper, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. This was stirred around to deglaze the pan and brown the sprouts a bit.

They were delicious! Cooking Brussels sprouts in bacon grease with garlic is a pretty good way to make anyone like them, so if you’re iffy about them, give this recipe a try — we’ve got another five stalks left, so I’m sure we’ll make this again!


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