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Purple brussels sprouts stand out as one of the best-looking members of the Brassicaceae family. These delicious vegetables sport dark purple leaves veined with green and tipped with crimson. Whether you’re a chef or a dedicated foodie, it’s easy to appreciate these colorful veggies. Let’s dig deeper and uncover the secrets behind their tasty appeal.
Who Developed Purple Brussels Sprout Plants?
Brussels sprouts originated in the 16th century. They were named after Brussels, the capital of Belgium and were popular all across Europe. French settlers brought them to our shores during the 1700s. Food historians credit Dutch plant geneticist, C.N. Vreeken with developing purple Brussels sprouts in the early 1940s by crossing green sprouts with red cabbage.
Purple vs. Green Brussels Sprouts: How Are They Different?
If you’ve never tried them, you might ask, “Do purple Brussels sprouts taste different?” The answer is yes. Purple sprouts are a little sweeter and less pungent than green sprouts, with a flavor that is earthy and slightly nutty.
If you’ve never prepared them, you might ask, “Do they need different cooking techniques?” The answer is yes and no. Purple Brussels sprout heads aren’t packed as tightly as green sprouts, so they cook faster. Otherwise, both varieties can easily be prepared with the same methods.
How Do Their Nutrition and Health Benefits Compare?
Green and purple sprouts share a similar nutrient profile. Both provide healthy servings of vitamins A, B6, C and K. Each variety is an excellent source of folate and fiber. However, the deep purple pigmentation in purple results in more anthocyanins, and thus delivers additional antioxidants. Brussels sprouts, both green and purple, are among the top 20 most nutritious foods in regard to its Aggregrate Nutrient Density (ANDI) score.
When Are Purple Brussels Sprouts in Season?
Traditionally, Brussels sprouts were considered a cool-weather vegetable with a season running from September through March. Home gardeners still plant purple Brussels sprout seeds four months before the first frost. Fortunately, California’s mild climate and fertile soil allows produce companies to grow Brussels sprouts year-round.
That’s good news for kitchens all across the country. Foodservice professionals source the colorful sprouts through produce distributors regardless of the calendar date. Depending on their location, most home chefs can usually find purple Brussels sprouts at their local grocery store or farmers market.
How Do I Cook Purple Brussels Sprouts?
You can steam them or stir-fry them. Oven-roasted purple Brussels sprout recipes are popular because they bring out the veggie’s naturally sweet taste. Whether you braise, boil, steam or saute them, purple sprouts retain their delicious flavor and beautiful colors.
This is a vegetable that easily inspires home and professional chefs. From fresh salads to savory sides, it’s easy to bring out the best in purple Brussels sprouts.
• Add color, texture and taste to hearty vegetable soups.
• Bake in a creamy, white cheddar cheese casserole.
• Finish pan-fried sprouts with balsamic vinegar and Parmesan.
• Put crunch in coleslaw with shredded purple Brussels sprouts.
What Pairs Best With the Colorful Sprouts?
Restaurant guests appreciate the perfect pairing of a great wine and entree. Families at home enjoy complementary flavors of favorite veggies and main dishes. Purple Brussels sprout recipes easily bring that kind of culinary harmony to the table. These are just a few ways to pair Brussels sprouts with choice ingredients.
• Oven-roast fresh sprouts with pancetta or smoked bacon.
• Side game meats with purple Brussels sprouts.
• Toss with apples and pecans, and drizzle with maple syrup.
• Give sweet sprouts tang with cider vinegar or mustard.
• Spice up purple sprouts with sage, garlic or Cajun seasonings.
• Dress them up with hollandaise, honey mustard or Sriracha aioli.
How Do I Buy and Store Purple Brussels Sprouts?
At the grocery store or farmers market, choose sprouts with firm heads and tightly wrapped leaves. You shouldn’t see any wilting or discoloration. It’s best to store them in the refrigerator where they’ll stay fresh for one to two weeks.
If you’re running a commercial kitchen, rely on trusted distributors to deliver the freshest produce year-round. Regardless of a Brussels sprout’s color, it’s a vegetable that always pays off with solid shelf life and very little waste – a bonus for your restaurant’s bottom line.
Available Year Round
Enjoy them for their wonderful flavor. Stay inspired by their versatility. Keep them on your list of favorite veggies packed with nutritional goodness. Purple Brussels sprouts deserve to be a regular part of your menu planning.
Dan Holt is an experienced produce professional who started in the industry as a quality assurance inspector in the early 1990s and leads sales at Hitchcock Farms as Vice President. Prior to joining Hitchcock Farms, Dan enjoyed success in organic, specialty and conventional produce and with independent operators, regional and national chains in North America and abroad. Dan continues his passion in produce through collaborative inspiration and promoting healthy and sustainable food.