Please meet green Brussels sprouts sweeter, nuttier and much more purple-licious counterpart: the purple Brussels Sprout!
Yes purple brussels sprouts are REAL! Let’s learn about them and celebrate their beauty!
What are Purple Brussels Sprouts?
The term purple brussels sprouts refers to any variety of brussels sprouts whose color is … PURPLE!!!!
Generally, Brussels sprouts are green. However, there are TWO purple cultivator exceptions!
These purple varieties range from green-purple leaves with purple veins to more purple leaves veined with green. The purple color ranges from a deep, dark purple to a vivid red-purple to a lighter violet. They lose some color when cooked, with the purple often becoming more blue (or even brown) with the heat.
Brussels sprouts are members of the Brassicas Family and cousins with cabbage.
A Super Brief Purple Brussels Sprouts History
Botanists date Brussels sprouts back to Medieval Europe and they’re named after the capital of Belgium (Brussels). They were introduced in the US via French settlers in the 18th century. The first US plantings were on the California's Central Coast in the 1920s and significant production began in the 1940s.
Food historians credit Dutch plant geneticist and botanist, C.N. Vreeken with developing purple Brussels sprouts. He did so in the early 1940s, by cross breeding green Brussels sprouts with red cabbage and voila! The purple Brussel sprouts was born! The specialty variety has some of the red cabbage's purple colors and greater sweetness.
The purple varieties are hybrids between purple cabbage and regular green Brussels sprouts. However, the purple Brussels sprout Rubin, which dates back to 1954, is now qualified as an heirloom plant.
There are two main purple brussels sprouts available: Rubine & Falstaff.
Dating back to 1954, this variety was developed in 1954 by crossing green Brussels sprouts with red cabbage. Because of it's age, it now qualifies an heirloom plant (though true heirlooms are open pollinated and never hybridized…).
The Rubine is what you'll most likely find in seed catalogs and garden supply centers; currently the most popular purple Brussels sprout variety.
A more recent cultivar and much easier to grow that the Rubine. It’s open pollinated.
Very similar to green brussels sprouts!
Purple sprouts are a little sweeter, slightly nuttier and less pungent than their green counterparts with an earthy flavor.
Differences Between Green & Purple Brussels sprouts:
Purple brussels sprouts are even healthier than their green counterparts! That’s because the purple color comes from the pigment anthocyanin, which acts as an antioxidant. And more anthocyanins means more antioxidants.
Other notable differences are that purple brussels sprouts do not grown in a uniformed fashion and will range in size on the same stalk (unlike green one’s). And the leaves on the sprout heads looser and not packed as tightly as green ones, resulting in faster cooking times.
Cook purple Brussels Sprouts in all the same ways as their green counterpart!
Just keep in mind that that purple Brussel sprouts tend to cook a bit faster since their leaves aren’t packed as tightly.
Ways to cook sprouts: boil, steam, frying, roast, sauté or shred in a salad and eat raw!
Heads Up: The purple color in the sprout leaves often turns quite blue with heat from cooking. Sometimes even a bit brown.
Tip: Add a splash of vinegar when cooking purple brussels sprouts to help maintain their vivid purple color!
Where & When to Find Purple Brussels Sprouts?
The purple-licious beauties aren’t quite as easy to find as their green counterparts… yet! Ask your local farmers market if anyone grows them in your region, try your luck at the grocery store or order online.
In California I've found them at the farmers markets, Whole Foods and Trader Joes in California.
Season: Purple brussels sprouts are available in the fall and winter months.
Purple Brussel Sprout Tips & Fun Facts
For Picking: Choose sprouts that have tight, small heads with no wilting or discoloration
For Storing: Store fresh sprouts in the refrigerator for up to 5 days
For Cooking: Add a splash of vinegar when cooking purple brussels sprouts to help maintain their vivid purple color!
Both green and purple, are among the top 20 most nutritious foods! And purple ones are even healthier than green!
Brussels Sprouts have more Vitamin C in them than an orange!
Stoked on purple Brussels sprouts? I’d love to hear about it and see your purple-licious sprout creations too! Please leave a comment below and take a pic and tag it on Instagram with #chefdanielagerson.
Check out some of my purple-licious Brussel Sprout dishes: