How to Select Cauliflower
- Choose cauliflower with firm, tightly closed heads.
- White varieties of cauliflower should be very pale. Cauliflower comes in many other colors, though. Choose heads with a uniform color and no brown spots or dark spots on the curds.
- Avoid cauliflower with any soft spots. Softness indicates the cauliflower is beginning to spoil.
When is Cauliflower in Season?
While you can buy cauliflower year-round at the grocery store, the cauliflower season is from late fall to early spring. The peak season for cauliflower is from October to January. The best cauliflower will have firm, tightly packed heads that are heavy for their size and have fresh green leaves. The florets will be white and not brown, dark, or soft.
Varieties of Cauliflower
Cauliflower is a common vegetable grown around the world. Most varieties have similar flavors but there are lots of colors to choose from. These are the most common cauliflower varieties you can buy in the US:
- White cauliflower: This is the most common variety of cauliflower and has a white head (or “curd”) with green leaves. White cauliflower has a mild, almost nutty flavor.
- Purple cauliflower: This variety has a deep purple head and green leaves. It has a slightly sweeter and nuttier flavor compared to white cauliflower.
- Orange cauliflower: This variety has a bright orange head and green leaves. It’s flavor is very similar to white cauliflower and is high in beta-carotene.
- Romanesco cauliflower: This variety has a lime green, spiral-shaped head, and pointed buds. It has a slightly sweet taste and a firm texture.
- Green (broccoli) cauliflower: This variety has a lime green head and resembles broccoli. It has a mildly sweet and nutty flavor and is higher in vitamin C.
Cauliflower Nutrition Facts & Benefits
Cauliflower is a nutrient-rich vegetable chock-full of vitamins with many health benefits:
Serving size: 1 cup of florets
Approximate 25 calories
- 0.3 grams of fat
- 2 grams of protein
- 5 grams of carbohydrates
- 2 grams of natural sugar
- 2 grams of fiber
A few main health benefits of cauliflower:
- One serving of cauliflower provides 10% of your daily need for fiber.
- Cauliflower has both carotenoid and flavonoid antioxidants that can reduce inflammation and heart disease.
Eating cauliflower can help slow digestion, making you feel full and helping control your weight.
How to Store Cauliflower
- Cauliflower is a perishable vegetable. It will last a few days in your refrigerator, but be sure to use it soon after purchasing to avoid browning.
- If your cauliflower came pre-wrapped, just leave it in the packaging and place it in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. If not, wrap the cauliflower head in a lightly damp paper towel, then wrap the whole thing in an open, unsealed plastic bag, such as a grocery bag.
- Cauliflower can be “revived” if it begins to wilt. Trim the base of the cauliflower head, then stand the head upright in a dish of water for about an hour.
- Cauliflower can be frozen for about a year. Cut the head into florets and lay them out on a baking sheet. Place the sheet in the freezer for a couple of hours to allow the florets to firm up. Remove the sheet, place the florets into a plastic bag, and put it back in the freezer to store.
How to Prepare Cauliflower
- Roasted: Roasting cauliflower brings out its natural sweetness and nuttiness. Cut the cauliflower into small florets and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in a preheated 425-degree F oven for 20-25 minutes or until tender and golden brown.
- Steamed: Steaming is a great way to cook cauliflower if you want to retain its nutrients and its delicate flavor. Chop the cauliflower into florets and steam for 5-7 minutes or until tender. This prep method keeps the cauliflower’s delicate flavor and tenderness that’s perfect for adding to soups or pureeing.
- Stir-fried: Stir-frying is a quick and easy way to cook cauliflower. Cut the cauliflower into florets and stir-fry with your choice of vegetables and spices. This method of preparation is great for adding a crunch to the dish.
- Grilled: Grilling cauliflower gives it a smoky, charred flavor. Cut and toss the caulflower florets with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until tender and charred.
How to Serve Cauliflower