Brussels sprouts, versatile members of the Cruciferae family, have shed their rep as “boring” or “gross” to become a meal-time staple. But if stored improperly, you know how quickly they can go bad. And mushy, brown, foul-smelling brussels sproutss aren’t on anyone’s preferred menu.
Don’t worry, there’s a simple solution! The best way to keep your loose brussels sprouts is in airtight storage in the crisper of your refrigerator. Or they’re on the stalk and there’s no room in your fridge, treat them like fresh-cut flowers and put them in a vase.
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Picking Your Brussels Sprouts
Before buying and storing your brussels sprouts, whether on the stalk or loose, you should know how to pick the freshest available, and gauge their quality. This means they’ll last longer, and you’ll be able to more easily catch signs of spoilage.
The best time to buy your brussels sprouts is in late fall or winter. According to the USDA, there are two acceptable grades of brussels sprout, described as grade one or grade two.
Grade one sprouts are under an inch wide and 2-3/4 inches long. They should be firm and totally uniform in color, be free from any signs of decay or seed stem, and won’t have dirt or other foreign materials like bugs on them.
Grade two brussels sprouts are the same size but will be less firm. They’ll be fairly uniform in color, won’t show signs of withering, and won’t have obvious insect damage or decay. They should also be free of dirt and foreign materials.
How to Properly Store Brussels Sprouts
Here’s how to store your brussels sprouts, depending on if you bought them loose from the grocery store or if they’re still on the stalk.
How to Store Loose Brussels Sprouts
We need to store brussell sprouts in airtight containers to prevent them from being exposed to the factors that cause them to inevitably spoil. Bacteria and mold and common culprits, with enzymatic action and bruising leading the charge.
That’s why loose brussels sprouts are best stored in a plastic bag or produce container in your vegetable crisper.
How to Store Brussel Sprouts on the Stalk
If you ever find brussels sprouts on the stalk at your local market or grocery store, run, don’t walk, to the checkout. Though a rarer find, they’re worth the extra cost because of their ability to stay fresh for much longer than their loose counterpart.
If you’re not hurting for refrigerator space, storing brussels sprouts on the stalk in an airtight container in the crisper is ideal. This can get you an extra week of freshness before their start to turn.
In the event your crisper doesn’t have a spare inch, keeping your brussels sprouts en stalk in a vase with a small amount of water on the counter is a great way to keep them fresher than just leaving them to their own devices.
Just be careful to ensure you’re only submerging the stalk and not the sprouts
How Long Can You Safely Store Brussels Sprouts?
When buying produce, the labels don’t always clearly indicate the “best by”, “sell by”, and “use by” dates. A good rule of thumb is that individual brussels sprouts will last:
- 3-4 days on the counter
- 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator
- 12-16 months in the freezer when blanched
If you’re fortunate enough to be able to buy your brussels sprouts on the branch, you can get an extra 1-2 weeks if you keep them refrigerated, storing them on the counter will only buy you a few more days.
How to Tell When Brussels Sprouts Have Gone Bad
If you’re in a situation where you suspect your brussels sprouts are past their prime but aren’t sure how long you’ve had them, there are a few things to watch out for.
- If everything looks okay, have a nibble at one of the leaves. A fresh sprout will have a slightly sweet taste, and one past its prime will taste slightly bitter.
- Are the leaves brown and wilting? If you peel off the first layer, are the leaves green or are they yellowing or browning as well?
- Even if your sprouts look okay, the smell will tell you everything you need to know. A brussels sprout past its best will smell like old cabbage.
If you buy pre-prepared sprouts that have been segmented or had the base cut off, these won’t last much more than a day or two, regardless of where they’re stored. Keep an eye out for blackening around the edges.
Common Brussels Sprout Storage Mistakes
There are a couple of common mistakes that people make when trying to keep their brussels sprouts, or any produce, fresh. Number one is washing your produce before putting it in the crisper. For the best results, only wash your brussels sprouts before you cook them.
This leads to the second mistake: just because you shouldn’t wash them, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tidy them up. Taking off any wilting or older-looking leaves on individual sprouts is a great way to lengthen their lifespan and keep them tasting better, longer.
And though it may be overkill, even if they’re in a container that’s as airtight as possible, you should avoid keeping them with certain fruits like apples, melons, bananas, tomatoes, and others.
These fruits naturally let off ethylene gas as they ripen, and this can cause other vegetables around them to go off more quickly. Make sure to search for the types of fruits that will influence their neighbors in the crisper.
The Best Products to Keep Your Brussels Sprouts Fresh
Though plastic bags will do just find, there are a few affordable alternatives that are even better, like purpose-designed fruit and vegetable containers. These are plastic and/or glass containers that have different features to support the longevity of your brussels sprouts.
These BPA-free fruit and vegetable containers are a little pricier than some, but worth it for the wealth of neat features. The foldable lid gives you easy access while adjustable air vents and removable perforated insert can be used to drain and keep moisture off of fruits and vegetables.
- ????KEEP VEGETABLE&FRUITS FRESH: The vegetable and fruit storage/saver container with lids have vents system that can regulate the flow of air, in and out, control the humidity inside of vegetable...
- ???? CLASSIFIED STORAGE DESIGN - Keep Fridge Organized: These salad container come with adjustable foldable partitions for classified storage to prevent the food from squeezing, rotting or sogginess....
- ???? MULTIFUNCTIONAL DESIGN: The bottom of the container has small opening that can be opened to drain out water and can also be used as colander to wash produce or strain food such as potatoes. The...
But if don’t want to use plastics (or are short on space) these reusable silicone containers are a lifesaver. Just make sure your sprouts are dry before tucking them away!
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Just because you should store your brussels sprouts unwashed and uncooked, experts recommend that you don’t eat them that way.
Even properly washed, brussels sprouts can carry salmonella and e.coli in their crevices. Always enjoy your well-stored, fresh brussels sprouts steamed or roasted. Bon appetit!