An Arbroath sprouts producer has been working on turning the superfood into an uber-food this Christmas.
Peter Stirling at Windyhills Farm is the sole supplier of Brussels sprouts for Marks & Spencers premium range and has recently been working on a nutritionally-enhanced version.
He explained: “We’ve basically been working on enriching our sprouts with minerals.
“We’ve been working in conjunction with the James Hutton Institute over the last three years developing ways of enriching the healthy attributes of Brussels sprouts
“M&S are keen for us to look at some of the things that the population is deficient in, so we looked at selenium, zinc and calcium.
“Selenium and zinc are good for enhancing the body’s immune system and calcium is good for the bones.”
M&S currently stocks a pack of Brussels sprouts that has been enriched with selenium and sales have increased 30 per cent each year for the last few years.
Pete added: “M&S are looking at quality points of difference for their products and they have a major focus on healthy attributes.”
Being sole supplier of M&S’s premium Brussels Sprouts for the whole of the UK is no small task. In the 10 days in the run-up to Christmas approximately 15 million sprouts will be heading from the fields around Windyhills to the vegetable aisles in M&S stores nationwide.
Peter said: “As a company we supply 100 per cent of M&S’ premium sprouts
“It’s very rare to get that for a Christmas product. The festive period is M&S’ most important. A lot of shoppers move to them to trade up, and getting it right very important.
“M&S are very reliant on us.
“Arbroath has demonstrated over the years it’s the best place in the country to group them. It’s got the perfect climate and a good, skilled workforce.”
For best results with his Brussels, Peter recommends five minutes in a simple pan steamer over a pot of boiling water.
He added: “We’ve got the best tasting sprouts in the UK, they are so mild you can eat them without cooking as there is no bitterness.
“But you still want a bit of crunch, so it is better to under cook rather than over cook them.”