Harvesting brussels sprouts is easier than you might think, and actually kinda fun too! In this post, you’ll learn how to tell when they are ready to pick, plus I’ll show you step by step exactly how to gather them, and even give you tips for using, and storing them for later.
Have you ever seen a funny-looking brussels sprouts plant and wondered how you were ever going to harvest them correctly? It turns out, gathering these cute little veggies is actually easier than you might think.
As opposed to their cabbage cousins that have a single head, brussels sprouts form all along the tall stalks, with multiple heads on each one. Picking them is super easy, and even a little fun.
Below you’ll learn all about harvesting brussels sprouts. How many you can gather at once, whether they will grow back, and how often you can pick them.
Plus, I’ll give you tips for how to use or store them for later. I will even answer some questions that people often ask, so you’ll feel like a pro in no time. Here’s what you’ll find in this detailed guide…
When To Harvest Brussels Sprouts
The best time to harvest brussels sprouts is after the first few frosts in the fall. Allowing frost to touch the plant will make your crops sweeter and more flavorful.
It’s very important to gather them at the right time so they have the sweetest and best taste possible.
They are very hardy, and can survive hard freezes, so you can continue enjoying them well into the winter.
However, cooler temperatures will slow the plant’s growth. They will stop producing, and extreme cold will eventually kill them. So be sure to pull the last of them before that happens.
But of course, you can do it earlier than that, or even if there’s no frost, as long as they are ready to go.
How To Tell When Brussels Sprouts Are Ready
You’ll be able to tell when brussels sprouts are ready to be picked by how large and firm they are.
They’re ready once they reach about 1 – 1.5” in diameter and are still firm. This usually occurs sometime between 85-110 days after planting.
If left on the plant too long, the leaves on each of the heads will start to open up and turn yellow. So, be sure to get to them before that starts happening, otherwise they won’t taste as good.
When they’re ready, they will be nice and tight, bright green little heads.
What Part Of Brussels Sprouts Do You Harvest?
The part of brussels sprouts that you should harvest are the little heads that form along the main stem of the plant. You’ll find them right above where the leaves join the stem.
They look similar to small cabbages, and will get larger as they mature and become ready to eat.
The good news is that you don’t have to dig up the entire plant. In fact, I recommend you don’t do that, at least at first.
Just pluck off the ones that are ready to go, and leave the rest of them in the garden until they have enough time to mature.
How To Harvest Brussels Sprouts
Now that you understand when to harvest brussels sprouts, let’s look closer at exactly how to do it. There are two different ways to pick them – and they both have their own benefits.
Picking The Individual Sprouts
The most popular way to harvest brussels sprouts is to break or cut each one of them off of the stem. That way, you can leave the plant in the ground so it will continue to produce more for you.
Since all of the heads that form along the stem don’t normally mature at the same time, you’ll need to gather them as they are ready.
Look at the ones that are at the bottom first. More than likely, those will be larger than the ones on top, which means they will be ready to eat much sooner.
To remove the ones that are ready, carefully remove each individual head off the plant at the spot where it’s attached to the main stem.
Many times you can break simply them off. But for the best results, cut them off using a sharp pair of pruners or a knife
This task is usually easier if you remove the large leaf that is just below each of them first.
Make sure to leave the entire plant in the ground so that it will keep growing the rest of the tiny ones that are still on the top.
Harvesting The Entire Plant
If all of the brussels sprouts on a stalk mature at the same time, or the weather is too cold for them to continue producing, then you can harvest the entire plant.
I find it easiest to pull the whole thing out of the ground, rather than try to cut the hard, thick stems. The roots aren’t super deep, so they are pretty easy to yank out.
After you pull the plant, remove all of the leaves along the main stem first. You can keep the smallest and most tender greens to cook or fry up if you want, they are delicious.
Once you strip off all of the leaves, you may notice that some of the heads on top are still pretty small. Don’t worry, they can be eaten at any size. So make sure you pick all the small immature ones too.
How Often Can You Harvest Brussels Sprouts
You can harvest brussels sprouts as often as necessary, they will keep producing more at the top of the stalk as it gets taller.
If you live in a warm enough climate, you can continue enjoying them until the plant starts to bolt (flower).
People who live in colder areas will only be able to enjoy them until the plants are killed by freezing temperatures.
What To Do With Freshly Picked Brussels Sprouts
There are lots of things you can do with your freshly picked brussels sprouts. Just like anything else from the garden, they taste amazing when you cook them right after you bring them inside.
My favorite ways to prepare them are to steam, roast, or pan fry them. Sometimes I even cook them with bacon for a special treat, they’re so good together!
If you want to save them and cook them later on, store them in the refrigerator in the crisper drawer loosely covered with a food-safe plastic wrap. They will last about a week in the fridge.
You can also store them in the freezer for a longer amount of time. Just blanch them for 3 minutes and put them into a freezer-safe resealable plastic bag before placing them in the freezer. They will last about six months in the freezer.
FAQs About Harvesting Brussels Sprouts
Even though the process of harvesting brussels sprouts is pretty simple, you may still have some questions. Here are answers to the most common ones that people ask.
Where do I look for the brussels sprouts on the plant?
Look for the brussels sprouts along the main stem of the plant. They are located just above the stem and leaf joints, right at the spot where the side leaves come out of the main stalk.
You should see what looks like tiny baby cabbages. Remember, the ones at the bottom will likely be larger than the ones at the top, so only pick the largest of them.
How Many Times Can You Pick Them?
The number of times you can pick brussels sprouts depends on how well your exact plant performs, and how cold or warm it is in your area.
The good news is that, as long as your plant is producing new heads, you can continue picking them. In fact, you can keep enjoying them continuously up until either freezing temperatures kill the plant, or it starts to bolt.
Do brussels sprouts grow back?
Yes, brussels sprouts will grow back in warmer climates even if you cut them down.
However, since they are technically a biannual, they will not produce any new heads the second year. Instead, they flower and set seed.
Harvesting brussels sprouts is easier than you might think. They are fun to pluck, and will keep producing over and over again. Once you learn how easy it is to gather them, you will want to put more of them in your garden next year.
More Harvesting Posts
- When & How To Harvest Onions
- Harvesting Kohlrabi – Everything You Need To Know
- When & How To Harvest Potatoes
Share your tips for how to harvest brussels sprouts in the comments section below.