Food Math: Brussels Sprouts Plus Kale Equals Kalettes

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“New” and “vegetable” are not a pair of words that you often see side by side. We all grew up with the same tired-out rabbit food like carrots and broccoli and snow peas and bell peppers. Well, the next generation will have to add another item to the list of things their moms forced them to eat: Kalettes.

Innovating Vegetables

Kalettes is actually the (trademarked) brand name for Tozer Seeds’ proprietary kale sprouts. Their story begins way back in ancient history, the year of our lord 1995. The sales of Brussels sprouts in the United Kingdom was falling, and Tozer decided to try giving the market a little boost. Tozer specializes in tweaking plants for a specific purpose, like resisting disease or altering growth, but their scientists also dabble in breeding experiments. So, as an alternative to finding new ways of gussying up an old veggie, Dr. Jamie Claxton set about mashing up two classics.

The Science of Kalettes

Kalettes are purple-and-green kale leaves on a Brussels sprouts stalk, as pretty to look at as they are good to eat. They have a sweet, savory, nutty flavor, and they are rich in vitamins C and K. Easier and quicker to cook than Brussels sprouts, they can be prepared in any way you can imagine, or you can just nosh them raw. These little wonder veggies are a hybrid, created through selective breeding rather than direct genetic tinkering; kale sprouts are not genetically modified organisms in the sense that the term is commonly used. Kale and Brussels sprouts were a natural fit, since both belong to the same species, brassica oleracea. This made the two relatively easy to cross. However, the hybridization process took a long time. Once the initial hybrid showed potential, there was a lot of experimentation as the Tozer scientists sought to create the absolute perfect kale sprout. After each cross, there was a waiting period of a year before the results could be assessed.  It took them 15 years to finally produce a hybrid that they felt was worthy of the market.

Kale Culture

Meanwhile, in the United States, kale was blowing up. Between 2007 and 2012, kale production in the US increased 60 percent. In 2009, Bon Appétit magazine printed a recipe for kale chips, which Gwyneth Paltrow cooked on the Ellen show in 2011. Dr. Oz introduced his viewers to the veggie in 2010, and in 2012, Time magazine listed it as one of the top 10 food trends of the year. Tozer’s Kale sprouts, meanwhile, were being marketed under the names Lollipops and, after that, Flower Sprouts. In 2013, they took home the third place FruitLogistica Innovations Awards for outstanding innovation in international fresh produce. This sort of success, combined with the trends in the US, led Tozer to bring their creation to kale-crazed North America. They re-branded the food Kalettes, and the rest is, quite frankly, history. If you feel the urge to liven up (not to mention beautify) your dinner-time regimen, look for the signature green and purple of Kalettes. They are currently available in the US exclusively through Ocean Mist Farms, Classic Salads, and 4Earth Salads.