Brussels Sprouts Exhibition tips
Brussels sprouts when well grown can make a fine display on the show bench, whether in individual classes or as part of a collection. There are no special cultivation requirements for sprouts intended for showing; good general cultivation should lead to sprouts excellent for both kitchen and show use. They are worth a maximum of fifteen points, and fifty sprouts is the usual number required for both single dishes and collections.
Judges will look for fresh, solid and tightly closed sprouts. As with most vegetables, enormous size is not of paramount importance, and small sprouts which are tightly closed will be favoured over large, loose, blowsy ones.
Try to leave the selection of the sprouts until the last possible moment. Although they will keep for several days when stored in a damp sack in a cool, dark shed or cellar, they really look their best when freshly picked. To ensure that the sprouts are as uniform as possible, it is a good idea to first select one sprout as a control; it should be slightly smaller than average, no more than 3.7 cm (1-1/2”) in diameter and tightly closed. Using this sprout as a reference select about one hundred more. This seems like an extravagant number, but you may need a good supply of replacements at the show bench, and it is better to have a few extra. Although they are tough, strong growers, do not handle the sprouts carelessly, or they may bruise.
Little is needed in the way of preparation. If the tiny leaves at the base of the sprouts look yellow or are otherwise unsightly, cut them off with a sharp knife. Do not pick off too many outer leaves, though, because the inner leaves are paler and less attractive. Then cut all stems to the same length, preferably short.
If the sprouts are being packed for transport to the show, make sure they are packed tightly enough; otherwise, they may bump against each other in transit and some damage may occur. If there is extra space in the box, fill it with tissue paper. The sprouts should not be left in the box too long, or the colour will bleach out and rotting may occur. The sprouts are most attractive when displayed on a wire cone packed with moss.