All About Cauliflower

How to Buy, Store, and Cook With Cauliflower

Like its fellow cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, and cabbage, cauliflower is a cool weather crop perhaps best known for its oft-touted health properties. For local eaters, however, its cool weather ripening and superior storage abilities make it a fall and winter staple.
  • 01 of 06

    Cauliflower Season

    Cauliflower. Photo © Molly Watson

    Cauliflower may be grown, harvested, and sold year-round, but it is by nature a cool weather crop. Sunshine and heat bring out bitter flavors in the undeveloped flower buds that make up the tightly packed florets in a head of cauliflower, whereas chill and frost bring out its sweeter side.

    Cauliflower is at its best in fall and winter and into early spring.

  • 02 of 06

    Choosing Cauliflower

    Cauliflower Varieties
    Cauliflower Varieties. Photo © Molly Watson

    Look for white or cream-colored heads that feel heavy for their size. The deeply ribbed green leaves that envelop a head of cauliflower should look fresh, not wilted or yellowing or dry.

    You may also find Italian purple cauliflower or golden cauliflower heads and green "broccoflower" at some markets. These are fun alternatives (particularly for vegetable platters) and can be used just like the more common white cauliflower.

  • 03 of 06

    Storing Cauliflower

    Many Cauliflower at Market
    Many Cauliflower at Market. Photo © Molly Watson

    Keep cauliflower loosely wrapped in plastic in the fridge. Fresh from the market heads will last up to 2 weeks.

    You can cut cauliflower into florets and stored them, sealed, in a plastic bag in the fridge. They will last up to a week in a well-regulated refrigerator.

  • 04 of 06

    Cooking Cauliflower

    Spicy Roasted Cauliflower. Photo © Molly Watson

    Cauliflower has a lightly sweet, nutty flavor when properly cooked. Raw cauliflower can have a pretty sharp bite, but when combined with creamy dips can be a great addition to a raw vegetable or crudite platter.

    Cauliflower can be roasted, steamed, sauteed, or fried, as well as mashed! Find delicious cauliflower recipes here.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Using the Whole Head

    Cauliflower Gratin. Photo © Molly Watson

     Whether cooked or eaten raw, cauliflower is most commonly broken or cut into florets. Any outer leaves are removed (you can save these to cut up and add to a stir-fry or soup, just know that they have a sharp cauliflower flavor). The core is often removed and discarded, but it is just as edible and tasty as the florets, so feel free to chop it up and cook those pieces along with the florets! This is especially true if you're making any kind of cauliflower soup.

    The entire head of cauliflower...MORE can also be simply roasted for a stunning presentation.

  • 06 of 06

    Growing Cauliflower

    cauliflower-growing.jpg
    Cauliflower in the Garden. Photo © Molly Watson

    Despite the fact that it fairs well in cool weather, cauliflower requires full sun when it's growing - at least 6 hours' worth. Find specifics (including tips on keeping cauliflower a stunning white as it grows) over at Organic Gardening.