Cauliflower is a gorgeous vegetable. Cousin to broccoli, cauliflower is the most elegant member of the cabbage family — “cabbage with a college education,” as Mark Twain famously remarked.
Rounded and compact, its dense, milky florets are wreathed in pale green leaves, which hug the head to shield it from the sun (preventing the development of chlorophyll, which would turn it green).
Cauliflower may have come from the Mediterranean or China, but no one knows for sure. By the Middle Ages it was widely cultivated in the Arab world, and it arrived in Europe in the early 17th century. But cauliflower wasn't commercially cultivated here in the US until the 1920s.
Why choose organic cauliflower?
- At Earthbound Farm, we grow our cauliflower without toxic synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, using sustainable farming methods that protect the environment and help keep pesticides out of our soil, air, water, and food supply. Organic food is the healthiest choice for people and the planet — and we think organic cauliflower tastes better, too!
- WhatsOnMyFood.org from the Pesticide Action Network shows you searchable results for vegetables like cauliflower and a wide range of other organic and conventional foods. It’s an easy-to-use and empowering tool for learning about pesticide residues and their health effects for all of us.
How to select and store cauliflower
- Choose cauliflower with a firm, compact head and crisp green leaves. Small leaves extending through the curd don’t affect its quality. Black or brown speckles on the florets are a sign of age (though surface spots can be cut away before cooking).
- Refrigerate cauliflower in a plastic bag (or in its wrapper). If you have more cauliflower than you need for a given recipe, refrigerate the extra in a plastic bag and trim off what you need in stages. Though it’s best enjoyed right after you buy it, uncooked cauliflower can keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Tips for using cauliflower
- The undeveloped flowers (florets) of the cauliflower are called the “curd,” a term you’ll see in some recipes.
- Cauliflower is delicious raw or cooked, but it becomes soft and mushy with a sharp cabbage-like flavor (and aroma) if overcooked.
- Oven roasting, steaming, sautéeing or stir-frying are great ways to cook cauliflower. Small heads can be cooked whole. Large heads should be broken into florets or quartered to ensure even cooking.
- To prepare cauliflower, trim away the base leaves. Using a small knife, trim out the core by cutting around the stem in a cone shape; this trick allows faster, more even cooking.
- Removing the core is also the easiest way to separate the curds into florets. Preserve their shape by wedging a knife between the smaller stems, then snapping them apart (not cutting through the buds).
- Add a handful of celery leaves or 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds to cauliflower cooking water to reduce the cabbage-like smell.