The Thorold family have been growing brassicas at their family farm in Lincolnshire for over fifty years. That’s three generations of Thorolds growing and supplying top quality veg to customers across the UK.
When Cecil and Jean Thorold founded the farm in the late 1940’s it was just 20 acres. Today their son Peter and grandson Ben farm over 2,000 acres of prime Lincolnshire soil. They grow cauliflowers, broccoli, a range of cabbages and, of course, sprouts.
Peter and Ben grow 250 acres of sprouts, that’s about one and a half thousand tons a year. The season runs from September to April but at least 60% of the Thorold sprout harvest is for the Christmas period.
Loose sprouts are harvested mechanically but sprout stalks are still cut by hand, there’s not yet a machine built that can handle this back breaking task. Sprout stalks are a growing market, particularly in retail. They look terrific of course but the real advantage of buying sprouts on stalks is that they keep absolutely fresh for so much longer, a week to ten days at least.
Sprouts aren’t just for Christmas and not just for boiling, there’s some very imaginative recipes from the splendid Nigel Slater here. And remember Peter’s wise words, don’t over cook your sprouts, a bit of crunch is best.