Preparing and Cooking Brussels Sprouts

To prepare and cook brussels sprouts

Preparing Brussels Sprouts


First, drop the sprouts into salted ice water to flush out any small bugs hiding inside. Next, trim them. Remove yellow leaves and leaves with dark spots or tiny holes, but keep as many of the darker, vitamin AŚrich outer leaves as possible. Then, cut an X into the stem end of the sprouts to allow heat and water in so that the sprouts cook Easter.


What Happens When You Cook Brussels Sprouts


Brussels sprouts contain mustard oils (isothiocyanates), natural chemicals that break down into a variety of smelly sulfur compounds (including hydrogen sulfide and ammonia) when the sprouts are heated, a reaction that is intensified in aluminum pots. The longer you cook the sprouts, the more smelly compounds there will be. Adding a slice of bread to the cooking water may lessen the odor; keeping a lid on the pot will stop the smelly molecules from floating off into the air.


But keeping the pot covered will also increase the chemical reaction that turns cooked brussels sprouts drab. Chlorophyll, the pigment that makes green vegetables green, is sensitive to acids. When you heat brussels sprouts, the chlorophyll in their green leaves reacts chemically with acids in the sprouts or in the cooking water to form pheophytin, which is brown. The pheophytin turns cooked brussels sprouts olive or, since they also contain yellow carotenes, bronze.


To keep cooked brussels sprouts green, you have to reduce the interaction between chlorophyll and acids. One way to do this is to cook the sprouts in a lot of water, so the acids will be diluted, but this increases the loss of vitamin C.* Another alternative is to leave the lid off the pot so that the hydrogen atoms can float off into the air, but this allows the smelly sulfur compounds to escape, too. The best solution is to steam the sprouts quickly in very little water, so they retain their vitamin C and cook before there is time for reaction between chlorophyll and hydrogen atoms to occur.


How Other Kinds of Processing Affect Brussels Sprouts


Freezing. Frozen brussels sprouts contain virtually the same amounts of vitamins as fresh boiled sprouts.

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