Now in Season: Buying, Storing, and Preparing Cauliflower
… Plus, 3 new recipes
The best way to shop? With the seasons. So, every 2 weeks at Kitchen Stories, we'll be highlighting a different in-season ingredient along with 3 new recipes. To the market, we go!
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Cauliflower has caused quite a stir in recent years as a popular low-carb vegetable. Suddenly, people are baking pizza with a cauliflower dough, grating it into cauliflower rice, or serving it as a light cauliflower purée in lieu of the classic mashed potato. Let’s get to know the healthy vegetable in more detail and show that it’s not only extremely versatile, but super tasty!
1. Hello, my name is cauliflower
Cauliflower gets it’s name from the Italian “caoli fiori”, meaning cabbage flower. Botanically speaking, the cauliflower is kind of like a flower—more precisely an untrained flower bud. In the field, this bud encloses a coat of outer bracts and thus ensures that the inside remains beautifully white. If the cabbage is not white, but light green, for example, it has been exposed to the sun. This is also the case with Romanesco, a variant of cauliflower.
Like all members of the cabbage family, cauliflower is a cruciferous plant. Thanks to its particularly mild taste, it has made it to the top of the cabbage family's popularity scale in many countries. An early form of cauliflower probably arrived in Italy from southern Greece, from where it started a success story throughout Central Europe as early as the 16th century.
In addition to its mild taste, many appreciate cauliflower because of its digestibility. It’s really good for those with sensitive stomachs compared to other types of cabbage. Even babies tolerate cauliflower because of its finer cell structure. The creamy white cabbage, however, has even more health benefits: With a modest 25 calories per 1/3 cup (100 g), the vegetable contains a lot of satiating fibre, minerals such as potassium, B vitamins, and vitamin C. In addition, when puréed or finely chopped, cauliflower produces oils that strengthen the immune system and combat bacteria and fungi in the body.
2. When to buy cauliflower
Cauliflower has its high season from May to October, but is typically available all year round. As well as growing in Germany, large quantities of the delicious cabbage are grown around the European Union in England, Belgium, France, Spain, and Italy. But the highest grossing cauliflower growing country is actually China, followed by India.
3. How to find and store the perfect cauliflower
You will usually find cauliflower both with and without leaves. Heads with green leaves are the better choice because you can see how fresh the cabbage is. They also protect the vegetables from developing browning pressure points and from drying out. The perfect cauliflower has crunchy green leaves that fit tightly, a juicy stalk, and firm white buds (also sometimes called curds since they tend to look like fresh cheese curds). If many spots are discolored and/or the vegetable smells unpleasantly stale, this can be a sign that the cauliflower is old. If you see any black dots, don’t buy that head, as those dark spots indicate mold.
Whenever possible, you should prepare cauliflower fresh. It can also be stored for up to a week in the vegetable compartment of your fridge. To do this, remove the leaves and wrap the unwashed cabbage loosely in a paper bag or foil. You can also cut and wash the cauliflower and keep it stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
How to cut cauliflower
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If you have bought too much cauliflower or notice that you cannot prepare it within a week, you can freeze it. To do this, divide the cauliflower into florets, blanch in boiling salted water for about three minutes, cool in an ice bath, drain well, and store in plastic bags or containers in the freezer. This way you have up to one year of delicious cauliflower in stock for quick dishes like creamy soups or spicy curries.
4. How to prepare cauliflower
To fully enjoy all the nutrients cauliflower has to offer, you should cook cauliflower only just until it becomes tender. Basically, this means you can blanch, steam, roast, briefly stew, or fry quickly. It is best to divide the cabbage into small florets, because this is the fastest way for it to cook. Cauliflower can also be eaten raw, for example finely grated in a salad or as a crunchy crudité. You can also cook or bake the head whole or cut it into thick “cauliflower steaks”. What about the leaves? All components of the cauliflower head are edible, from the thick steam to the green leaves. Discard only the thickest leaves and use the rest in a pesto or cream soup.
The traditional European way of preparing cauliflower calls for béchamel sauce, breadcrumbs roasted in butter, or as a creamy, blended soup with cream and nutmeg, but the mild flavor of the cauliflower harmonizes well with just about any range of spices. Try classics of Indian cuisine such as a cauliflower curry. And if you want to see what cauliflower has to offer in modern low carb cuisine, you can prepare it grated (raw or briefly fried) as an alternative to rice or couscous or make a pizza base from grated cauliflower and eggs.
5. What to make next
All week long, we'll be featuring new Cauliflower recipes on Kitchen Stories. Check back to see what's new, then try one for yourself! Here's where to start:
Published on February 24, 2019