Cauliflower is classified as a cruciferous vegetable, which includes broccoli and other vegetables. The wonderfully crunchy cauliflower is a hearty vegetable featured in many vegetable recipes. In this article, we'll talk about growing cauliflower, selecting and serving cauliflower, and the health benefits of cauliflower.

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head of cauliflower
White cauliflower heads are the most widely-seen type.
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About Cauliflower

Cauliflower is a single-stalked, half-hardy, biennial member of the cole, or cabbage, family. It's grown as an annual, and the edible flower buds form a solid head that may be white, green, or purple. Cauliflower is more restricted by climatic conditions than other cole family members. It's less adaptable to extremes of temperature.

Common Name: Cauliflower
Scientific Name: Brassica oleracea, Botrytis Group
Hardiness: Very Hardy (will survive first frost)

In the next section, we'll show you how to grow cauliflower.

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Growing Cauliflower

A Cauliflower head is made up of small, tightly compact white florets on thick stems. The entire plant is edible, including the leaves.

head of cauliflower
The entire cauliflower plant is edible.

Cauliflower needs two cool months to mature and is planted as a spring or fall crop in most areas. Plant for a winter crop if your winters are mild. For a spring crop, plant transplants four to six weeks before the average date of last frost. Start your own transplants from seed indoors about six weeks before garden planting. Plant leggy and crooked transplants deeply in the garden to prevent them from being top-heavy. Unless the buds are supposed to be green or purple, the color should be untinged creamy-white. To protect the head from discoloring, blanch the head when it gets to the size of an egg by gathering three or four leaves and tying them together to cover the head. Self-blanching cauliflower doesn't need to be covered, but it will not blanch in hot weather.

Harvesting Cauliflower

Time from planting transplants to harvest is 55 to 100 days. The mature head should be compact and about 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Cut the whole head from the main stem.

Types of Cauliflower:

There are several types of cauliflower to choose from when planning your home vegetable garden. We've listed the different varieties of cauliflower below.
  • Snow Crown Hybrid, harvest at 52 days, has pure white, 8-inch-diameter heads.
  • Super Snowball is ready to harvest in 55 days.
  • Violet Queen, harvest at 55 days, has royal purple heads.
  • Cheddar, harvest at 68 days, has creamy orange heads.
  • Cassius, harvest at 65 days, is arguably one of the best, with domed heads to 8 inches.
Knowing how to select cauliflower is the key to enjoying this delicious vegetable. Learn how to select and prepare cauliflower in the next section.

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Selecting Cauliflower

Keep cauliflower on hand -- in your kitchen or vegetable garden -- and you'll always have a tasty, nutritious and satisfying vegetable to eat.

head of cauliflower being sliced
Look for creamy white color
when choosing cauliflower.

Though cauliflower is available year-round, it's more reasonably priced in season -- fall and winter. Look for creamy white heads with compact florets. Brown patches and opened florets are signs of aging. Store unwashed, uncut cauliflower loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in your refrigerator's crisper drawer. Keep upright to prevent moisture from collecting on the surface. It will keep two to five days.

Tips for Preparing and Serving Cauliflower

Remove outer leaves, break off florets, trim brown spots, and wash them under running water. Cauliflower serves up well both raw and cooked. Raw, its flavor is less intense and more acceptable to children. Let them dip it into fat-free dressing.

Steam cauliflower, but don't overcook it. Overcooking destroys its vitamin C and folic acid. Moreover, overcooking gives cauliflower a bitter, pungent flavor. To prevent this, steam it in a non-aluminum pan over a small amount of water, until a fork barely pierces a floret -- about five minutes. Remove the cover soon after cooking begins to release odoriferous sulfur compounds.

Keep reading to learn about the many health benefits of cauliflower.

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Health Benefits of Cauliflower

Cauliflower is one of several cruciferous vegetables. Cauliflower has no fat, is high in vitamin C, and can pass for a low-carb version of mashed potatoes with ease. Read on to discover how this edible flower can help you maintain a healthy diet.

piece of cauliflower
Raw cauliflower makes a great snack.

Health Benefits

After citrus fruits, cauliflower is your next best natural source of vitamin C, an
antioxidant that appears to help combat cancer. It's also an important warrior in the continuous battle our bodies wage against infection. Cauliflower is also notable for its fiber, folic acid, and potassium contents, proving it's more nutritious than its white appearance would have you believe. Cauliflower may also be a natural cancer fighter. It contains phytochemicals, called indoles, that may stimulate enzymes that block cancer growth.

Nutritional Values of Fresh and Cooked Cauliflower
Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Calories 15
Fat <1 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Carbohydrate 3 g
Protein 1 g
Dietary Fiber 2 g
Sodium 9 mg
Vitamin C 28 mg
Folic Acid 27 micrograms
Potassium
88 mg

Want more information about cauliflower? Try:
  • Vegetable Recipes: Find delicious recipes that feature cauliflower.
  • Nutrition: Find out how cauliflower fits in with your overall nutrition plans.
  • Vegetable Gardens: Grow a full harvest of great vegetables this year.
  • Gardening: We answer your questions about all things that come from the garden.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.