The most common varieties of cauliflowers are white; the green leaves protect the head from sunlight, which contributes to the white color. There are also light green and purple cauliflowers. The vegetable is a good source of vitamin C and the trace mineral manganese. High fiber content and the sweet almost nutty flavor make cauliflowers a tasty choice for a range of dishes, from vegetable soup to crudités for dipping in sauces.
Cauliflower belongs to the same plant family as collards, kale, cabbage and broccoli. The four-petal flowers resemble a cross. The compact head, or curd, consists of underdeveloped flower buds attached to a central stalk. The flowers are broken apart into buds, which are cooked, steamed or eaten raw. Look for clean and compact curds where the bud clusters are not separated. Unless you are buying the colored varieties, look for a brilliant white head. Avoid purchasing cauliflower that has small flowers. Cauliflower should smell crisp; if there is a pungent smell it will taste bitter. Soft curds should also be avoided.
Cauliflower can be affected by downy mildew (Peronospora parasitica) at any stage of development. The pathogen causes dark brown internal streaks on the cauliflower head, and fluffy white growth can be seen on the underside of the leaves.
Dark, almost black spots can sometimes be detected on the surface of the cauliflower. These spots are the beginning of spoilage.
Storing the cauliflower with the stem side down helps prevent moisture forming in the shoot tips. Moisture can cause brown spots in the refrigerator after five to seven days.The shoot tips are commonly referred to as florets, but they are underdeveloped shoot tips.
- Photo Credit Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images
How to Keep a Cauliflower White
A nice white piece of cauliflower is so appetizing, but one that's brown surely isn't. Learn how to keep your cauliflower white...
How to Cut Cauliflower
Once you master the basics, cutting cauliflower should be an easy process.
How to Tell if Vegetables Are Overripe
For peak nutritional value and freshness, choose vegetables that are at their peak ripeness. Once a vegetable becomes overripe, it begins to...
How to Cure Brown Spot Fungus
Brown spot fungal disease (Alternaria alternata) seems to appear from nowhere, revealing itself with full-blown symptoms. Once the fungal pathogens jump into...
How to Steam Cauliflower & Broccoli
Cauliflower and broccoli reach their peak in October and November. Both of the vegetables belong to the cabbage family. Broccoli and cauliflower...
How to Grow Cauliflower
Growing cauliflower (Brassica oleracea) is a little more challenging and labor-intensive than some other [garden vegetables](http://www.ehow.com/how_12341080_popular-vegetables-garden.html), but adding this versatile vegetable to...
Insects That Eat Cauliflower
Cauliflower, part of the cabbage family, is a popular vegetable that grows in nearly all parts of the U.S. Not only do...
Why Is My Cauliflower Turning Purple?
Cauliflower is a member of the Brassica family of vegetables, which thrive in the cooler temperatures of spring and fall. Cauliflower is...