Brussels sprouts (Brassica oleracea var. Gemmifera) are annual members of the Brassicacae vegetable family which includes broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower, collards, kale, radishes and turnips. Much like cabbages, most types are green, but you may find two cultivars which have reddish-purple sprouts. These cultivars both make appealing decorative plants as well as create sprouts which add color to recipes. But they could lose some color when you cook them.
Red Cultivars are Rare
Even though you’ll find only a few forms of Brussels sprouts seeds on the market, North Carolina State University horticulturalists assembled a list of 121 named brussels sprouts cultivars of which one,”Rubine” (Brassica oleracea var. Gemmifera”Rubine”), has red sprouts. Cornell University horticulturalists describe 21 Brussels sprouts cultivars available to home gardeners of which two,”Rubine” and”Falstaff” (Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera “Falstaff”) have reddish-purple sprouts.
The Evolution of Brussels Sprouts Varieties
Europeans plant breeders have developed the most hybrid Brussels sprouts cultivars, focusing on the vigorous growth, their immunity to disease and uniformity of the airways. The gemmifera subspecies of Brassica oleracea was designed near Brussels, Belgium, at the 16th century, hence its name. Europeans favor 1/2-inch-wide sprouts while Americans like big, 1- to 1 1/2-inch-wide spouts. “Rubine” and”Falstaff” both have bigger sprouts.
Rubine, an Heirloom Brussels Sprout
“Rubine,” an heirloom Brussels sprout, is the most frequently mentioned red sprout cultivar and also the one which you’ll probably locate in seed catalogs and garden supply centers. The big reddish sprouts of”Rubine”grow in 90 to 100 days. It has purplish-red stems and leaves as well as sprouts. The sprouts have a good flavor but lose their color if you cook them.
Falstaff, A More Recent Cultivar
“Falstaff,” similar to”Rubine,” has red sprouts which turn bluish-purple when you cook them. Its red sprouts make it an attractive ornamental plant. It requires 98 days to grow. To prevent red Brussels sprouts from dropping their color, cook them as you would red cabbage, a cousin from the Brassica family: Avoid using cast iron or aluminum pots and include a little bit of vinegar to a recipe.