The cauliflower used in cauliflower recipes belongs to the botanic specie brassica oleracea. It is the same specie broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, kale and brussels sprouts belong to.
The cauliflower is most widely known for its distinctive white heads formed by florets and surrounded by light green leaves. While in recent years cauliflower varieties developed from older cultures show off their orange, purple and greenish colour adding a colourful facet. With their difference in colour comes a slight change in taste.
Buying cauliflower: It is a vegetable that is available year round. The age of the white cauliflower heads can be detected by the graininess and yellowness visible this is the effect off too much intense sun exposure and when the florets lose their dense formation.
Storing cauliflower: The cauliflower head keeps well for 7 to 10 days without losing its firmness when bought fresh and firm from the market. Its best kept wrapped either in newspaper or left sitting stem down in a plastic bag in the vegetable compartment of your fridge . If you don’t have the luxury of space in the fridge find the coldest place in your kitchen and keep it wrapped in newspaper, the head should stay firm for three to five days.
Eating cauliflower: Raw cauliflower offers a high amount of vitamins and nutrients, especially vitamin C and vitamin K, with a good portion of folate, choline and vitamin B6 among many other nutrients. Some of its nutrients are recognized in supporting cancer prevention.
Overcooking the cauliflower reduces its nutritional value and therefore its health benefits.
Quick tip: the gentler the cauliflower head is processed the more nutritional value it will provide. The worst scenario is to cook the florets in boiling water until they mushy and no longer contain these beneficial nutrients. The best way to eat cauliflower is to eat it raw. But if you can't stomach that stir fry the cauliflower for five to eight minutes, steam it or bake it to get the most out of it.
Many tend to eat just the florets, which is a bit of a waste since the leaves are edible too. Our suggestion is to plan two dishes, one where you enjoy the florets raw, or steamed with a dip or two, or a cauliflower salad. Cauliflower florets are also, a good addition to a lamb stew like mafe. For a cauliflower casserole and a cauliflower quiche the florets as well as the stem are both easily used. The leaves might be a good choice for juicing with or making a creamy cauliflower soup recipe.
Clean only the parts of the cauliflower head that you will be using: Wash the head under lukewarm running water and scrub with a soft vegetable brush. To remove any insects soak the cauliflower head down in a bowl with a water solution of salt and vinegar for 10-15 minutes. You can almost eliminate pesticide residues by using organically grown produce.
Cut florets in even sizes for an even steaming, cooking or baking result.