The Kale-Brussels Sprout Hybrid Is Less Exciting Than It Seems

Slate's Culture Blog
May 15 2014 9:04 AM

Why I’m Not Excited for the Brussels Sprout-Kale Hybrid

Even if you like both kale (above) and Brussels sprouts, you may not like their new offspring.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

“Imagine two of the most popular vegetables—kale and Brussels sprouts,” writes Modern Farmer’s Heather Hansman. “Now imagine Frankenstein-ing them together to create one super vegetable.”

This super vegetable, which was developed by vegetable breeders in the U.K., will be sold in the United States under the trademarked name “Kalettes” beginning this fall. (It is known as a “flower sprout” across the pond.) According to Hansman, it possesses “kale-like leaves on a Brussels-y stalk.” It also possesses the stupendous fortune of being a hybrid of the two vegetables that arguably have the most cult-like of foodie followings. When British company Tozer Seeds began experimenting with mixing the two cruciferous strains 19 years ago, kale wasn’t yet cool, so Tozer had no way of predicting the buzz-worthiness of its invention.


I am an enormous fan of both Brussels sprouts and kale. I will eat either of them in virtually any form you put in front of me. But I don’t have high hopes for Kalettes, for reasons that will become clear when you see a picture of them.

According to Kalettes’ Facebook page, the cross-breed is “a fresh fusion of sweet and nutty … with the best flavors of kale and Brussels sprouts.” Great! Except for that flavor isn’t the main reason I eat either kale or Brussels sprouts—texture is. There is nothing like biting into a properly cooked Brussels sprout that’s dense, hearty, and almost starchy in the middle. (Brussels sprouts are best served whole—shredded Brussels sprouts lack the textural appeal of intact sprouts.) And a lightly massaged leaf of kale, after the thick, woody stems have been removed, is a delicate marvel between the teeth.

Kalettes appear to have none of kale’s or Brussels sprouts’ textural charms. They are light and poofy, not dense like Brussels sprouts. And their leaves are attached to substantial-looking kale-like stems. In other words, Kalettes have dispensed with the best part of Brussels sprouts (the densely packed leaves) and substituted the worst part of kale (the thick, unpleasant stems).

I will be happy to be proven wrong once Kalettes appear in my local produce aisle. But I suspect that while kale and Brussels sprouts respectively have staying power, Kalettes will be a flash in the pan.

L.V. Anderson is a Slate assistant editor. She edits Slate's food and drink sections and writes Brow Beat's recipe column, You're Doing It Wrong. 


Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

Hidden Messages in Corporate Logos

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

How Can We Investigate Potential Dangers of Fracking Without Being Alarmist?

My Year as an Abortion Doula       

  News & Politics
Sept. 16 2014 11:41 AM Klobucharmania: Catch It!
Business Insider
Sept. 16 2014 10:17 AM How Jack Ma Founded Alibaba
Atlas Obscura
Sept. 16 2014 8:00 AM The Wall Street Bombing: Low-Tech Terrorism in Prohibition-era New York
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 11:40 AM How to Put Things in Your Fridge
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 7:36 AM The Inspiration Drought Why our science fiction needs new dreams.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 16 2014 7:30 AM A Galaxy of Tatooines
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.