Farmers enjoy crops of ‘monster’ sized sprouts

It may not quite be the perfect Christmas for children, with news that sprouts - love them or loathe them - have enjoyed a good growing year.
Morrisons' monster sproutsMorrisons' monster sprouts
Morrisons' monster sprouts

So called ‘monster’ sprouts, bigger than the size of golf balls, will hit supermarkets including Morrisons on North Road in Berwick, this week.

The gigantic vegetables are at their biggest for a decade, and they have grown 20 per cent larger than they would in a normal year.

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However, size is not everything, says Kenny Blair, who works in sales and logistics at Drysdales, the long-established vegetable growers who supply Tesco and the Co-Op.

“This has been a good year for sprouts, especially here in the Borders,” he said, “because there hasn’t been the wet and damp conditions that we’ve seen down with growers down south.

“Up here it’s been a little bit colder, and that helps.”

And of course, size isn’t everything. Kenny says that if sprouts are too large, they lose flavour and tend to split - which nobody wants when putting together Christmas dinner.

The super-size sprouts will measure approximately 40mm wide and 45mm long. Each sprout is expected to weigh about 35g, compared to a ‘normal’ 15g.

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Kenny says that there is a maximum sprout size of around 50mm, so this year’s crop are close to the limit.

For sprout lovers, it’s good news. For children who are fussy about food, though, it’s bad news. The super-sprout will not be able to be consumed in just one mouthful. Research shows that the average child’s mouth size is only 45mm.

The sprouts have grown to an enormous size due to milder weather and good growing conditions throughout the British summer and autumn.

Average UK temperatures have been as high as 15°C during November, which has caused the sprouts to reach maturity quicker, then grow even bigger.

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Growers are assuring that the ‘monster’ sprouts will have the same sweet and mild taste and the same vivid green colour. However, they will take an extra 1-2 minutes to cook, due to their giant size.

Richard Hutton, store general manager at Morrisons, Berwick, said: “Normally, the sprouts we sell are only 30mm in diameter and weigh 15g.

“We expect these bigger sprouts will be highly sought after by some sprout lovers!”

John Clappison, one of Morrisons sprout growers, said this week: “Our sprout plants have loved the warmer weather.

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“The higher temperatures have made them shoot up and produce the biggest most succulent sprouts that we’ve seen in 10 years!”

Over 1,000 tonnes of the super-sized sprouts will be supplied to Morrisons over the winter.

However, it is to early to tell whether they are a hit with the public. As Drysdale’s Kenny Blair said: “People tend to still be buying gifts rather than their Christmas veg at this point. In the last two weeks of advent, we’ll see.”