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Dec 8, 2012 03:01 PM

Rotten sprouts: Any way to tell before you buy?

I picked up a pound of organic brussels sprouts this morning from a vendor at San Francisco's Ferry Plaza. The price was way higher than I've ever paid for sprouts, so I chose them carefully, but when I got home and started to prep them for roasting, I was surprised to see that about a third of the sprouts I bought were rotten at the core and had to be tossed. They looked fine on the outside, so I couldn't tell they were gunky and brown in the middle until I had sliced through.

Sprout lovers: was there any way to tell that this would happen, other than asking the vendor to slice through a sprout?

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  1. try them in store.


    haha! Honestly though the only way I check for good sprouts is just what you did, make sure they look good and fresh on the outside-good green color, firm closed leaves, etc. In any event I would call the store. Many places will refund your money or offer you a replacement.

    I think with things like sprouts, onions and for that matter citrus fruits, etc you really don't know until you cut into them. I received some gorgeous onions in my CSA. They looked perfect and had a fresh onion-y aroma, not too strong. Sliced them open and brown and rotting inside. What can you do <shrug>

    1. Wouldn't they be soft to the touch if they were gunky inside? Fondling yer veggies is a surefire way to know what condition they're in.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Harters

        I touched, and gazed upon their sprouty beauty, at the farmers' market, but didn't notice any squish. They weren't all 100% rotten inside (rotten enough to squish if I squeezed), most had a 2 or more layers of rot toward the core which meant they got booted out of my roasting pan, but I don't think squeezing would have ID'd it.

        1. re: pane

          I'm tempted to say that you got everything you deserve for buying the vile, farty things in the first place. But then, I'm someone who despises sprouts with a vengeance usually reserved for political despots and child murderers. :-0

      2. I LOVE sprouts, but have never had much luck buying them loose from any vendor. So these days, if I don't still have them growing in my garden, I either buy frozen OR on-the-stalk, which more & more supermarkets are carrying these days & have for the past several years. Have never been disappointed with the quality of on-the-stalk (or the ones from my own garden. ;)).

        Oh - & you did everything correct re: choosing. Sometimes there's just no way to tell what's going on inside. And to be fair to the vendor, he/she probably didn't know either.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Bacardi1

          This time of year, Trader Joe's has stalks for $3.49 - per stalk, which is a great bargain. The same price as last year, surprisingly. The one I got yesterday was so large that it would have made a formidable club.

          1. re: greygarious

            That IS a good price. I believe our local Martins supermarket is selling them for $4 & change. But they ARE decent-sized stalks with probably a couple of pounds of sprouts on them, so it's not "too" bad.

            1. re: Bacardi1

              This year I have been taking them off the stalk as needed but removed all at once from last year's smaller stalk, and filled a gallon bag to brimming.

        2. I believe the most useful way to screen sprouts is to check them for firmness, the color of the leaves, and avoid those that have browned cut ends. I've never had sprouts with core rot unless I kept them too long, and then it was visibly obvious on the outside that they had gone bad.

          1. Tell you grocer you want to buy sprouts cut in half. Tell him/her your issue. If the store has any integrity the grocer will be more than happy to cut each sprout in half.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Puffin3

              I disagree with this. Frankly, even in the best of stores, no grocer has a sterile knife handy plus the time to sit around cutting individual sprouts in half for a customer.

              In addition, cutting the sprouts in half that long before cooking - unless you're planning on cooking them as soon as you get home - will result in unpleasantly browned edges & loss of quality.

              Frankly, I'd rather take my changes with the whole sprouts.