I used to hate Brussels sprouts. That gooey green vegetable used to send me diving under the table as a kid. It wasn't until I was an adult that I discovered the key to scrumptious Brussels sprouts (yes, I now call them scrumptious)—ripeness and the perfect cooking technique! If you think you hate Brussels sprouts, read on for all the tricks on how to pick good ones and cook them correctly:

How to choose Brussels sprouts

Use your eyes: A ripe Brussels sprout will be round and about 1 inch in diameter. Color is a great indicator of freshness—look for sprouts that are vibrant green with fresh-looking leaves. Stay away from Brussels sprouts with wilted, holey or blemished leaves. Don't forget to take a peek at the stem end, too. It should look clean and smooth.

Smell that sprout: Don't be ashamed to give that Brussels sprout a whiff right there in the store. What do you smell? If you said, "barely anything at all," you've got a perfectly ripe sprout in your hands. Throw it back if it has a strong smell—the older it gets, the smellier it will be.

Pinch the leaves: Give the leaves a little pinch. There should be no give at all—those puppies should be densely packed and holding on for dear life. So what if the leaves feel loose or are falling off? You've guessed it, you've got an overripe Brussels sprout!

Feel the sprout: Ripe Brussels sprouts will feel heavy for their size. They should also feel fairly firm to the touch. Stay away from squishy or spongy Brussels sprouts.

How to prep

Brussels sprouts do require a bit of prep work. But don't worry, it’s stuff even I can do. And I'm the lady who caught her microwave on fire last Thanksgiving! All you have to do is wash them, trim off the end of each sprout with a sharp knife, and peel away the outer leaves until you see shiny, lighter-green leaves. If you want, you can cut a small "x" on the bottom of each sprout to ensure even cooking. But that's pretty much it! After that, they're ready to be roasted, grilled or steamed.

Storage solutions

Seal your unwashed Brussels sprouts in a zip-top bag and store them in the vegetable bin in your refrigerator. They should last for up to 10 days. If you want to keep your Brussels sprouts even longer, blanch them for three minutes in a pot of boiling water, cool them completely, and pop them into a freezer-safe bag. You can keep them in the freezer for an entire year!

Cooking tips

The reason why most people hate Brussels sprouts is because they've only eaten them overcooked. Brussels sprouts contain sulfur compounds—and you can taste and smell that sulfur if you cook your sprouts too long. Plus they become mushy…yuck. Cook your Brussels sprouts for six minutes, tops, or just until they are tender. Anything longer will increase that blechy sulfur taste.

Recipe ideas

Savory: Try steamed Brussels sprouts tossed in honey mustard, add boiled sprouts to your favorite chicken casserole recipe, or toss them into a frying pan with chopped kielbasa sausage and onions.

Sweet: Yes, you read that right. A dessert idea using Brussels sprouts! Mix grated Brussels sprouts with flour, nutmeg, sugar, oil and dark chocolate to create an amazingly unusual—but tasty—Brussels sprout cake!