It is best during the months of May, June, July and August. You’ll find it at its peak again in October and November.
Cauliflower is a cousin of the cabbage family and is thought to have originated from the wild cabbage found in ancient Asia Minor. In the beginning, it is thought to have looked more like kale or collards and not anything like what we call cauliflower today. In 600 B.C., today’s cauliflower made an appearance in the Mediterranean region where it continues to be a prominent vegetable in Turkey and Italy. The French decided to give it a try in the mid-16th century, which led to it being cultivated in Northern Europe.
Wondering who produces the most cauliflower today? The United States, France, Italy, India and China are the biggest producers of this versatile vegetable.
Cauliflower Picking, Storage & Cooking
There are few things to look for to ensure that you are getting the freshest of the bunch.
- Clean, creamy white, compact curd in which the bud clusters are not separated should be your goal.
- Spotted or dull-colored cauliflower, as well as heads that have small flowers should be avoided.
- Heads that are surrounded by many thick green leaves are better protected and will be fresher.
Cauliflower is one vegetable where bigger doesn’t mean better. As a matter of a fact, size has absolutely no correlation to quality.
Once you have it home, the best way to store cauliflower is in a paper or plastic bag (make sure to get all the air out) in the refrigerator. Since it is important to keep moisture from developing, you should store it with the stem side down. If you keep it whole, it will last up to a week. If you cut it up or buy pre-cut, you needed to eat it with in a day. Also, cooking will cause it spoil quicker so only store it covered in the refrigerator for two days max if you are keeping it for leftovers.
Most people only eat the florets, but the stem and leaves are edible and can be used when making vegetable stock. Now comes the hard part, how do you cut a head of cauliflower? To cut cauliflower, first remove the outer leaves and then slice the florets at the base where they meet the stalks (you can further cut if want smaller pieces, but can’t make them bigger once you cut them). Be sure to trim any brown coloration so your florets look nice and healthy.
Cauliflower contains phytonutrients that release odorous sulfur compounds when heated. So if you want to minimize the odor, keep the cauliflower’s texture crisp and decrease nutrient loss, cook it for only a short time. The best ways to cook cauliflower are steaming, sautéing and roasting. If you want to make sure that it keeps it color, try not to cook it in cookware that contains iron, which reacts with the phytonutrients. If you have to use iron cookware, add a little lemon juice to the cooking water.
Cauliflower is a superfood that is an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of vitamins K and B6, protein, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, fiber, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium and manganese. In addition, it’s the jackpot when it comes to antioxidants and phytonutrients. It’s no wonder that cauliflower has been proven to provide the following benefits:
- Cancer Prevention
- Boost Brain Function
- Keep a Healthy Heart
- Anti-inflammatory Agent
- Promote Good Digestive Health
Cauliflower might not look pretty, but you can do pretty much anything with it. It's a great substitute for potatoes, pizza crust and even "fried" rice. So think outside the salad bowl and take a Real Bite out of cauliflower.