How you cut Brussel sprouts depends on what you are making with them. You can’t do the same trimming for every kind of dish you use Brussel sprouts in. They are easy enough to trim, though. Just think of them like a cabbage, but smaller. You’ll trim them in a similar way as you would a cabbage, since they have the same edible parts.
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How to Trim and Clean Brussel Sprouts
Your Brussel sprouts can be cut and ready to cook up or eat raw with just a few short steps. How to trim Brussel sprouts perfectly every time?
Trimming the Sprouts
Start by trimming off the base of the sprout’s core. That will open up a fresh area. Then, peel off the outer layer of leaves. You may notice that some of the leaves have some insect damage or other problems. Peel off as much as you need to leave healthy looking sprouts only. Otherwise, just peel off the outer layer.
Rinsing the Sprouts
Next, rinse the sprouts to get them clean. Use cold water and rub the sprouts down with your fingers to force off any debris.
Techniques for Cooking and Preparing Sprouts
Cooking Whole Sprouts
If you are going to cook the sprouts as they are, whole and uncut, then you can simply cut a small cross or x into the base. This allows for more heat penetration and ensures that the sprout cooks evenly. When you cook the sprouts, you should cook them on a low heat, so the heat can get into the center and cook everything evenly. This helps prevent burning or crisping just the outer edge.
Blanching Your Sprouts
You will use this “x” cut for blanching your Brussel sprouts as well. What’s blanching? That’s a process that helps prepare the sprouts for freezing or for cooking. Blanching is a process of placing the Brussel sprouts (or any food) into very hot water briefly. The key is to only briefly place your sprouts in the hot water, because you don’t want to cook them in there.
Preparing Sprouts for Freezing
Then, if you are going to freeze them afterwards, you will place them into an ice bath in a process known as shocking. This stops the enzyme process that break down the foods and allows you to store your sprouts in the freezer for longer without them going bad. When you take them out of the freezer, they will taste fresh rather than stale.
How to Trim and Half Brussel Sprouts
There are a few different ways to prepare Brussel sprouts for your food, and I want to tell you how to trim and half Brussel sprouts. You simple trim off the end and remove the leaves like I detailed above. Don’t make the “x” incision, though. Then, cut the sprout in half lengthwise. You’ll get longer, more manageable halves this way.
Cooking Halved Sprouts
You can cook up halved Brussel sprouts in some oil with salt and pepper and use them as a garnish on pizza or pasta or as a side all on their own. For a slightly healthier cooking method, put just a bit of oil on them as well as some salt and pepper and place them on a baking sheet in the oven preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for about 20 minutes until they become brown and crispy.
Roasting the Sprouts
If you want smaller Brussel sprouts for roasting with other vegetables, then you should know how to trim Brussel sprouts for roasting. You can follow the directions for halving them up above and then cut them in half across, creating quarter sections. This is the perfect size to trim Brussel sprouts when they are part of a larger dish. So, if you are roasting potatoes, carrots, onions, and Brussel sprouts together, when you take a bite of the dish, you want to be able to get most of these veggies into the bite. Having smaller cuts of Brussel sprouts allows you to do that.
How to Keep Brussel Sprouts Fresh
Once you have trimmed your Brussel sprouts, you may not be using them right away. We covered how to clean and trim Brussel sprouts already, but now we want to discuss what to do with them after they are trimmed.
Storing Untrimmed Sprouts
They should be stored in your fridge’s vegetable crisper drawer. You should place the sprouts into a plastic bag in the drawer. Ensure they are not packed in tightly and that they won’t be crushed. They can store in the fridge for up to a week, but they are best when eaten about three or four days after you bring them home.
You can store sprouts the same place whether you trim them or not, but trimming them can help you discover any problems that sprouts may have and give you a chance to get rid of these problems. You can find leaves that are bug eaten or rotten and remove those as you trim your sprouts. This is helpful if you want the sprouts to last longer. If you leave damaged leaves on the sprouts, then they may cause the veggie to decay faster, so remove those immediately as you trim your sprouts.
Before you store Brussel sprouts, be sure to wash them in cold running water Cleaning off the debris ensures you are cleaning away bugs and other things that may cause the sprouts to decay quickly.
Storing Trimmed Sprouts
Trimmed Brussel sprouts won’t last as long in storage. You should use them within a couple days of placing them in the fridge if you want them to still taste fresh. The outer leaves do a good job of protecting the sprouts and keeping the freshness in, so removing them make them easier to cook with, but it also reduces their shelf life, so be aware of that.
Trimmed sprouts should be stored in an airtight container to maintain their freshness rather than in a plastic bag. They should be put in the crisper drawer as well and not be stored with anything else in the container.
Now you know how to trim Brussel sprouts and what to do with them after they are trimmed to store them and prep them for cooking. There are quite a few great dishes you can make with these overlooked and under appreciated veggies, and I think that sharing this kind of knowledge about them is invaluable to making them more appreciated and to ensure that they get used more often. Someone may have given you sprouts in the past and you didn’t know what to do with them, but now you have a few ideas and can ensure their freshness and make sure that you are not eating the parts you should be leaving off.
What’s the proper way to trim Brussels sprouts?
To properly trim Brussels sprouts, start by rinsing them under cold water to remove any dirt. Then, using a sharp knife, cut off the base or stem end of each sprout. Be sure to only cut off a small portion so you don’t lose too many of the outer leaves.
Should I remove the outer leaves when trimming Brussels sprouts?
If the outer leaves are discolored, wilted, or have holes, they should be removed. After trimming the stem, loose or damaged leaves will often fall off on their own. If they don’t, you can easily peel them away.
How can I store trimmed Brussels sprouts, and how long will they last?
Trimmed Brussels sprouts can be stored in a breathable container (like a vented plastic bag) in the refrigerator. They should ideally be used within a few days for best quality, but they can last up to a week or so.
Are there any dishes or cooking methods where I don’t need to trim Brussels sprouts?
There are a few instances where you might not need to trim Brussels sprouts, such as when making a roasted Brussels sprout dish where the sprouts are cooked whole and the outer leaves become charred and crispy. However, even in these cases, it’s often still a good idea to at least trim a small portion of the stem and remove any damaged or discolored leaves.