The love child of kale and Brussels sprouts

Kalette comparison

What happens when two of the most popular vegetables in the U.S. get together? The answer can be found in Kalette, a new product developed by Tozer Seeds, a British vegetable breeding company. While you may think that Tozer was capitalizing on the current popularity of both brassicas, Kalette has actually been in the works for over 15 years. (It's been available in the U.K. under the name Flower Sprouts for a couple of years.)

While Tozer mainly focuses on tweaking existing plants, "they also do some seed breeding experiments, which their sales director David Rogers calls 'Blue Sky projects.' In the lab, scientists mix plant strains to see what they come up with." That's the case with Kalettes, which came about when "Dr. Jamie Claxton, who was relatively new to the company at the time, started mixing brassica lines. He mashed up kale and Brussels sprouts and the resulting vegetable, which had kale-like leaves on a Brussels-y stalk, was interesting enough that Tozer decided to put some research behind it." 

Brussels sprouts sales in the U.K. were falling, and this new product was intended to capture former Brussels sprouts fans and perhaps pick up some new ones. The fact that kale would become popular many years hence didn't factor into the decision to pursue the product, as kale has never been a popular vegetable in the U.K.

Since Americans have become kale-crazy, Tozer decided not to keep the "Flower Sprouts" name, opting instead for one that's closer to kale. Whether Kalette will take off in the U.S. remains to be seen. It's always a gamble to create an entirely new vegetable (the last successful one was broccolini in the early 1990s). But the curious can give Kalette a try in select markets this fall.

If you've tried flower sprouts in the U.K., we'd love to hear what you think about it.

Photo courtesy modern farmer

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