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Sprouts to cause a gassy problem this Christmas

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brussels-sprouts.jpgWhat could be greener - in every sense of the word - than the humble Brussels sprout? Quite a lot, says Lewis Smith in the Times, and for a rather unpleasant reason...

Eat a lot of sprouts, and you'll find they have quite a harsh impact on the digestive system. To put it bluntly, they cause terrible gas — and that gas is precisely the sort we're always having a go at cows for emitting: methane. Worse for the planet than C02 and generally not something you want building up in your house, let alone the atmosphere, methane is a killer. And due to their high carbohydrate content, sprouts cause us to produce quite a lot of it.

This is why sprouts have been named as one of the least green aspects of Christmas, along with Nintendo Wiis and digital photo frames. I'm a bit miffed that it was vegetables rather than battery-reared turkeys that were singled out in the list, but appreciate the point being made. The questions is, how can you make your sprouts less gassy? Follow the jump for some tips...

Blanching sprouts before you cook them will make them easier on the digestive system, ensuring a more pleasant Christmas experience for all concerned! Here's what you need to do:

Before cooking, plunge the sprouts into boiling water for sixty seconds, then plunge them into freezing cold water (seriously - put ice cubes in it!) for sixty seconds. This will stop the cooking process immediately. You can leave them in the cold water until you're ready to cook them. Then cook as usual.


The trick is to put them on to boil (or steam) at the last possible minute and to cook them briefly, so that their crispness is preserved.

To enliven plain boiled sprouts, melt a knob of butter among them and sprinkle over two teaspoons of soft brown sugar together with a generous grating of nutmeg. You might also like to try soured cream, lemon juice, flaked almonds or ground cloves. Who knows? With these additions, you might even get the kids to eat them.

To Boil

Bring the water to a rapid boil in a large pot, add the sprouts, and quickly return the water to a boil. Cook the sprouts uncovered just until tender.

Drain them, return them to the warm pot, and shake for a few seconds until dry. A little parsley added to the cooking water can reduce the cabbage flavour.

Cooking time: seven to 10 minutes. [Via BBC Shropshire]

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