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Sunday 17 December 2017

Mild weather super-sizes sprouts for Christmas

Padraig Fahy and Úna Ní Bhroin at their Beechlawn Organic farm outside Ballinasloe, Co Galway Photo: Hany Marzouk
Padraig Fahy and Úna Ní Bhroin at their Beechlawn Organic farm outside Ballinasloe, Co Galway Photo: Hany Marzouk
Deirdre Reynolds

Deirdre Reynolds

Super-sized Brussels sprouts will feature on many dinner plates across the country this Christmas.

Current mild temperatures, combined with the 'Indian' summer, have reportedly led to some varieties of sprouts maturing earlier than usual.

Irish farmers reported discovering 'monster' sprouts - up to twice the size of regular ones - in the run-up to Christmas.

"A normal Brussels sprout weighs between 15g-30g. This year, we're seeing some up to 50g," explained Padraig Fahy of Beechlawn Organic Farm in Galway.

"A lot of it would be bloating because of the warmth and rain.

"We got the month of May in the month of October, and that put extra growth on the crop too."

Churning out around 2,000 packs an hour in the countdown to Christmas, Meath farmer Cathal Lenehan told how he had received a "temporary spec" from one supermarket chain to sell the bigger sprouts this festive season.

Mr Lenehan, of family-run farm JCR Lenehan in Navan, said: "The sprouts are usually split into two different sizes: 22-28mm [wide] and 28-38mm.

"But we got a temporary spec to include sprouts up to 42mm in with the larger ones."

He added: "Size makes absolutely no difference to the taste.

"The beauty of bigger sprouts is that there's less prep time. You're not at the sink half the day peeling them."

Despite being voted the "most hated vegetable" in a survey by Heinz, Ireland's Brussels sprouts market is valued at €5.5m, up 6pc since 2011, according to new figures from Bord Bia.

More than half of all Irish households splurge on sprouts, with over a third of the spend taking place between early December and early January.

A spokesperson for Tesco Ireland said: "The warm and wet weather this year has resulted in a slightly larger crop than usual with some sprouts this Christmas up to 43mm. We have worked with our growers and adjusted our specifications to accommodate the slightly larger crop size for Christmas."

Irish Independent

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