Monday 14 January 2013

Brussels Tops - the verdict

At the weekend we used some of the Brussels Tops.

Seeing these lovely tight green heads, I can't imagine why anyone who grows Brussels Sprouts themselves would choose NOT to use the tops. They are really just another cabbage - a bonus after you have used the sprouts themselves.

One of the tops was enough for a meal for the two of us, so I'll save the other two for another day. I prepared and cooked the Top just as I would a cabbage - sliced it thinly and cooked it in salted boiling water for about 3 minutes.

Lurking in amongst the leaves were a few more very tiny sprouts. I cooked them in the boiling water for a few minutes before adding the shredded leaves, just so that they would be ready at the same time.

The texture of the cooked greens was very much like the loose-leafed cabbage we call "Spring Greens", and it looked the same too - very dark green. Lots of people had said that the taste would be very strong (perhaps unpleasantly so), but we didn't find it so. I think these days Brussels Sprouts have had some of their infamous bitterness bred out of them, and this applies to the leaves as well. We thought they were very nice, and when I grow sprouts again we shall definitely be using the tops too.

Incidentally, one school of thought suggests that you should remove the tops quite early on, to force the plants to put all their energy into the production of sprouts. I'm not sure about this, because I have always seen the leaves as the "powerhouse" of the plant, collecting solar energy and carrying out photosynthesis, but I'm prepared to be convinced. Maybe next time I'll carry out a comparitive trial?


  1. Our sprout tops had received a bit more of a battering than yours mark so I'm not sure about using them.

  2. We enjoyed ours, not finding them bitter either. Glad that the same went for yours!

  3. Extremely interesting post Mark. I have been waiting for you to comment on this, and am pleased you found the taste quite fine. Like Sue, my tops have also had a bit of a battering and in fact, didn't ball at all, but laid out like a flat green flower. Still, today I cut one of the stalks, digging that out of the snow, and am quite pleased with the mini Brussels sprouts; we shall have them tonight or tomorrow.

    Always good to learn something new. thanks

  4. It would seem a waste to through them away. I ate the last of my real cabbages last week. I'm so sad I don't have anymore. I really need to find a good storage cabbage. The variety that I used was terrible. The non-keeper stored better for me.

  5. While I liked the tops last year, "topping" the plants produced large sprouts for me.

  6. It's a great idea to use the tops too, I'm all for getting the most out of everything.

  7. Glad you enjoyed them, my mum loves brussel sprout tops she thinks they are nicer than the actual sprouts.

  8. Oh I do like a comparative trial. I sowed my brussel sprout seed last week so I'm excited to see how they do (and indeed to taste the tops).


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