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Brussel sprout stalks -- edible?

Marc Wallace Dec 19, 2003 08:15 PM

I keep seeing brussel sprouts sold on their stalk for what seems a reasonable price -- if the stalk is actually edible. (if not, then it's just like buying "tomatoes on the vine", which taste incredible but do cost more).

I've had zero luck finding any recipes that use the stalk. Most searches I've done result in descriptions like "cut an X in the stalk", referring just to the hard base of each sprout.

Anyone have suggestions?

  1. t
    tardigrade Nov 19, 2013 08:18 PM

    They're edible (for some value of edible) but the stalks tend to be tough and somewhat woody. When I buy them, I keep them in water, like flowers, and cut the ends off periodically: the last one was hard to saw through with any of my kitchen knives (the sprouts, btw, will stay fresh and scrumptious for a couple of weeks this way).

    If anything, I'd either use them for stock, or try pressure-cooking them, but I don't think they're worth the trouble. After all, in some other B oleracea cultivars those stalks are used as walking sticks!

    1. y
      yumdom Nov 19, 2013 06:59 PM

      Thanks Greygarious.Good to know I'm not alone. I love broccoli stems also, especially raw in a crudites scenario. Wonder if farmers are growing smaller stem varieties.

      1. y
        yumdom Nov 19, 2013 10:30 AM

        Chop the stalks, sprouts removed into about 4 inch pieces (any size that fits into your steamer will work but 4 inches is a nice manageable size for eating. Smaller takes time) with a cleaver (whack it!) and steam them for 25 minutes or longer.

        There is a tasty skin over its bamboo like "bone structure" that tastes like Brussels sprouts only with a different chewy texture. I like to chew off with my teeth. Then I pull off the "bamboo" layer that can be used as home siding or tooth picks, off to reveal the soft inside. The inner stem is similar to a broccoli stem but the flavor is sweeter, richer and creamier.
        If this seems like a giant waste of time to you, I also love eat steamed whole artichokes as tv watching nibbles. I like the pulling it apart and discovering and chewing the soft tasty meat off each leaf, stem etc.
        Brussels sprouts are better just off the stem but the STEMS are my new favorite, can only get it in the fall, snack food. I may be the only person who likes it...

        1 Reply
        1. re: yumdom
          greygarious Nov 19, 2013 11:24 AM

          You're not alone. I neglected to add last year's efforts to this thread. I went so far as to choose the stalk with the largest diameter. If memory serves, I hacked it into chunks that I nuked until the "bamboo" yielded to a paring knife, then steamed the lush treasure that remained. Too bad there's not more of it. Stems are also my favorite part of broccoli, but in the last few years local supermarkets have mostly stopped selling whole stalks in favor of just crowns, at a higher price. The only time I see broccoli with stalks is at farmer's markets (thin stalks, though) and in supermarkets only if the stalks are also skinny.

        2. c
          cecelia Dec 20, 2003 08:40 AM

          I would think you could use them as a coleslaw, similar to what I've had with broccoli stalks. They probably have lots of fiber. Or, freeze them to use in a vegetable broth for their nutritional value.

          Brussel sprouts never appealed to me but now I crave them--steamed and flavored with just a bit of olive oil, salt/pepper and a squeeze of lime juice. Or, with a bit of shredded, sharp cheese and salt and pepper. If you pick ones of similar size, they get cooked at the same rate.

          Real comfort food for cold days.

          3 Replies
          1. re: cecelia
            Val G Dec 20, 2003 09:54 PM

            Given a choice, I like to buy brussels sprouts on the stalk. They taste fresher. However, it's more work to cut them off the stalk and there is more trimming work than with packaged sprouts. Off they stalk they will be uneven sizes, so I divide into three piles: large, medium, and small. Put the large ones in the pot first, add the medium-size a bit later, and so on.

            I can't imagine that the stalk is edible. I've never been able to cut through a stalk.

            It's my sense that pre-cut sprouts are cheaper, especially when you figure in the labor.

            1. re: cecelia
              greygarious Nov 24, 2011 05:40 PM

              Bumping this oldie to report my experience with the 20" long stalk I got at Trader Joe's for the fabulous price of $3.49. (It yielded a gallon of sprouts.) The ones at the top end were the largest, a few of them golf-ball sized. I sorted them according to size and steamed the big guys. Some will be roasted, some pan-sauteed.

              I discovered that it is better to remove the sprouts from the stalk with a combination twist-pull than simply breaking them off because the latter method includes more stem with the sprout.
              The spoke-like pegs that grow close to perpendiculat to the stalk are edible. Break them off, trim the ends, slice into half-inch lengths, and steam. You can include them in stir-fries if you don't steam them completely. The taste is similar to broccoli stems.

              The stalk I bought was about 1.5" in diameter. I hacked through it out of curiosity. The core is green and seems like it would be similar to broccoli stalks IF you trimmed the very dense, woody outer layer, which is nearly 1/4" thick. You'd need to use a cleaver chop it into segments not more than an inch long, then cut the "rind" off each piece before cooking. I don't have a good enough cleaver for the job so I reluctantly tossed the stalk.

              Note that boiling destroys the cancer-fighting substances in Brussels sprouts but steaming or nuking does not, according to Wikipedia.

              1. re: greygarious
                wattacetti Nov 24, 2011 09:53 PM

                Pressure cooking experiments 4 years ago.


                I haven't done this but I have spent some quality time trimming the stalks to get at the centres - they were somewhat like peeled broccoli stems.

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