Turns out cauliflower isn’t the easiest vegetable to grow… It has a fussy nature that requires cool temperatures with little fluctuation. Coaxing a perfectly grown cauliflower head is a bit of an art form that needs multiple variables to harmoniously align. Any changes in temperature could prevent the head from setting, or make it bitter and inedible. It must be protected against frost and heat, its broad leaves pinned over its newly formed head for protection. Keeping the sunlight out gives white cauliflower its characteristic colour and tender flavour but letting the bright sunlight in intensifies the colour of the curds which is why we see purple, green or orange varieties. These strict growing conditions are why we see extreme fluctuations in the price of cauliflower, even when it is in season!
Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable. It’s a member of the brassica family alongside its well-known counterparts of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. The word “cauliflower” stems from Latin, meaning “flowers of cabbage” and this low-growing plant does look similar to cabbage until the large leaves begin to open up. This reveals the globe-shaped, cream-coloured head also known as a curd.
Native to the Mediterranean, it has been part of the European diet for hundreds of years and is now a popular vegetable in New Zealand. It is packed with Vitamin C, as one cup of raw cauliflower provides 85 percent of your daily recommended value. It is also high in folates, Vitamin K, and Vitamin B-6.
Refrigerate in plastic bags and use promptly.
Boil, braise, microwave, roast, steam, or stir fry, there are many ways to use cauliflower in your meals.
Cut into florets or leave whole. Cauliflower is best cooked for a short time until tender but still slightly crisp. Avoid overcooking as the taste will be inferior and the heads will disintegrate.