Cauliflower is the edible flower of a plant from the Brassica oleracea family, which also includes cabbage, brussel sprouts and broccoli. Most often seen covered in a delicious cheesy sauce, it is rich in vitamin C, folate and complex carbohydrates. It has large leaves that cover the head and prevent the cauliflower being exposed to sunlight, giving the vegetables a snowy white appearance.
While there are many varieties of cauliflower, mostly we identify them according to colour. Most common is the white cauliflower but you can also see orange, green and purple cauliflower. These are hybrids and have an even higher vitamin density than the white cauliflower.
How to select and store cauliflower
Cauliflower is available all year round but it is most plentiful in winter.
When selecting a cauliflower, choose heads that have firm white curds with no discolouration on the surface or the surrounding leaves. Cauliflower should feel heavy for its size. Cauliflower can be stored in the crisper section of the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Store the vegetable stem side down to prevent moisture welling and discolouring the curds.
If you buy pre-cut cauliflower, you need to use it immediately as it will begin to deteriorate immediately.
Best ways to cook cauliflower
Cauliflower can be steamed, boiled, roasted, fried, pickled and microwaved. Steaming and microwaving are the best cooking methods to preserve the nutrients. Cauliflower is also delicious served raw as crudités for dipping.
How to cook cauliflower
- Trim the outer green leaves and turn the head over so you can remove the core with a sharp knife.
- Cut florets into equal sized pieces for even cooking.
- They will take 3-5 minutes to boil, 5-8 minutes to steam and 3 minutes covered in the microwave with an additional 2 minutes standing time.
If the water you are cooking your cauliflower in is very alkaline, you can add a teaspoon of lemon juice or milk to keep the florets white.