The flower sprout: ‘Hot new vegetable of the year’ in UK

A tiny cabbage-like flower sprout is being tipped as the next big produce hybrid to make its mark on the UK food lover’s consciousness.

The sprout – a cross-breed of kale and Brussels sprouts – is starting to prove its worth, so much so that breeder, Tozer Seeds UK, is rebranding the the vegetable as ‘Kalette’ to cash-in on the continued kale effect and looking to breed new varieties to extend availability.

Flower sprouts or ‘kalette’, as they will be known from this autumn on the UK market, have been around since their introduction to Marks and Spencer (M&S) in 2010.

Despite a very British conception, flower sprouts have initially been very successful in the US, with green and lean actress Gwyneth Paltrow pledging favouritism and giving the vegetable the kiss of popularity.

Named “the hot new vegetable of 2015” by Fox News, the trend has also been picked up in the UK, as foodie magazines and chefs experiment with the vegetable, and retailers M&S, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Lidl and Aldi take them on.

Breeder Tozer Seeds reports that sales have doubled each year for the past two years, with growth being particularly rapid in northern Europe, so much so that the firm expects sales of the hybrid veg to triple in the region next year.

Flower sprouts are also stocked by retailers in Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Switzerland.

Tozer Seeds hopes all the major UK supermarkets will list the vegetable in the upcoming 2016 season.

Plant details

Origin: Kale and Brussels sprouts have been cross-fertilised to create the hybrid flower sprout.

Bred by British vegetable seed house Tozer Seeds using traditional breeding techniques, it’s a natural move since the two vegetables are both members of the brassica family.  

Appearance: Like a little frilly dark green to purple cabbage, flower sprouts literally are a combination of kale and Brussels sprouts with curly leaves and purple veins, all contained in small buds that look well formed and brittle but are actually very soft to touch.

They are described as tiny cabbages or little kales and look very attractive on the plate.

Taste: A sweet-tasting brassica, with a more subtle flavour than Brussels sprouts and all the frilliness but none of the toughness of kale, flower sprouts are described as mild, sweet and nutty in taste.

When deep or shallow fried, they take on more of a deep kale flavour, but when steamed or sautéed they are rather like a sweet sprout.
Source: www.producebusinessuk.com