If you’ve ever turned your nose up at Brussels sprouts, it’s time to taste the real deal — grown to perfection, right here in the Adelaide Hills.
With a third (and soon to be fourth) generation behind the wheel, Eastbrook Farms is one of the largest growers of Brussels Sprouts in Australia. They’ve notched up 60 years, growing premium Brussels and Red Darling Sprouts, as well as Kalettes (a hybrid between Kale and Brussels sprouts) all year round.
New and improved veggie
There’s no doubt that Brussels sprouts got a bad rap in years past, but the good news is that it can be attributed to user error rather than the vegetable itself!
“We’ve had those same experiences of being turned off by sprouts, but that’s because it used to be so common to boil them,” Eastbrook Farms Managing Director Scott Samwell explains.
“Boiling anything from the brassica family brings out the bitterness. On top of that, the varieties we grow are so different to what most people would have experienced on their dinner plate. The sprouts we grow have only been around for about a decade, and they are bred specifically to be a mild flavour with a much sweeter profile. They’re delicious either steamed or roasted, and you can do so much with them!”
While this family-run business has grown a range of produce over the years (including cherries, cabbage, lettuce, sweetcorn, peas, parsnips, cauliflower and potatoes), sprouts have remained the core focus.
“Rather than diversifying, we’ve focused on specialising in the best quality sprouts, and expanding our volume and hectares to meet a market demand nationally and exporting to South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia,” Scott explains.
Years to perfect
The Eastbrook Farms team has become masters at influencing the flavour profiles of their sprouts, with meticulous control of nutrients and timing throughout the year across over 2,500,000 plants on their farms.
“We’ve got close to 50 varieties of sprouts to choose from that are all subtly different from each other in plant height, colour and taste profile. We spent a lot of time experimenting with varieties until we could consistently nail down high volumes of top-quality produce from our properties at Mount Barker, Nairne and Langhorne Creek,” Scott says.
Among their offerings is the unique cross between red kale and green Brussels sprouts, Kalettes. Developed by the UK-based company, Tozer Seeds, Kalettes come in different varieties, including green and red sprouts, which each have several sub-varieties with distinct characteristics, adding to the diversity of their produce line.
You are what you eat
And these babies are delicious and as natural as it comes. Scott explains how over sixty years of perfecting their techniques, this family business is all about giving you unrivalled quality.
“Like any vegetable grower, the only thing that’s consistent is how variable our seasons are! There’s no predictability and it’s a real challenge to grow a quality product in large volumes for 10 months of the year, but that’s exactly what we do.
“Even though we make mistakes every year, and we can be affected by disease, market driven conditions and all those things, we really work to mitigate anything that affects the quality of our plants.
“We grow varieties that are less prone to seasonal variations, and we adopt the expertise of fertiliser and plant companies in the way of bio-stimulants and trace elements, as well as monitoring nutrients so that the plant is always in its optimum state throughout the entire life cycle,’ Scott says.
“Our approach to pests and disease control has always been ‘softly, softly’. We stick with a program that’s soft on the beneficials throughout the life of the crop, and we only use stronger chemicals as a last resort approach.
“We scout our blocks weekly and only spray according to what we see, to minimise any chemical input, and we’re meticulous about managing the soil health and biology in the soil to get it working for us in a positive way, as well as managing the landscape around the fields.”
Eastbrook Farms have oodles of recipe inspo on their website — think Kalette pizza, Brussels sprout fritters or soups, Kalette, kimchi and BBQ pork sliders and so much more! Here’s one to whet your whistle.
Brussels sprout sliders
- 12 Brussels sprouts, halved
- Halloumi cheese
- Bacon jam or chutney of your choice
- 3 rashers of bacon, chopped into small squares
- Pan fry halved Brussels sprouts until cooked through and golden brown.
- Pan fry halloumi cheese and bacon squares until golden.
- To assemble, spread with bacon jam and sandwich with a piece of halloumi and bacon and serve while warm.
To learn more, visit eastbrook.com.au