Cauliflower is a delicious, fibrous vegetable that is very versatile. From delicious cauliflower curry to comforting cauliflower cheese, and even to the recent popularity of cauliflower rice, it is certainly a vegetable that has gathered many fans.
To look at, it is similar to cabbage. In fact, its name in Latin translates to ‘flower of cabbage’. The leaves of a cauliflower withhold the glorious globes of white that we all know and love, and it is these white ‘heads’ of cauliflower that this article is going to be focussing on.
Of course, the leaves can also be eaten and they are delicious too, but for the purposes of this article, we will be focussing on the heads of cauliflower, as they are most commonly eaten around the world.
When you buy cauliflower it typically comes bundled up with its leaves around the head. As we have said, for the purposes of this article we are going to be focusing on the white heads of cauliflower.
These whiteheads of cauliflower can be accessed by cutting or peeling away at the leaves.
The big globe-like structure, once it has been revealed can be cut into and individual pieces of cauliflower can be brought out. These individual pieces are known as florets.
Depending on how you want to store the cauliflower, you may either keep the cauliflower whole, with all the leaves still intact and no florets cut away, or you may cut off all of the leaves and break the whole cauliflower down into these individual florets.
Let’s look at the former, first.
Storing a whole cauliflower
If you have just come home from the farmers market, or if you have just harvested your own homegrown cauliflower, you may be wondering how you can keep it until you want to use it in a few days’ time.
It can be tempting them to cut it into pieces for easier storage, and it is certainly something that we have done in the past. However, if you plan to use the cauliflower in a few days’ time, your best bet is to keep it in your refrigerator.
This will ensure it stays as fresh as possible for as long as possible.
- If you have bought it from a store, then the cauliflower may be wrapped in plastic wrap. If this plastic wrap is tight then it is wise to loosen it. Having it wrapped tightly can actually do more harm than good in the refrigerator. Instead, loosely wrap it in a perforated plastic bag so that some air can still get to it.
- As tempting as it can be to take off all of the leaves immediately, you should keep them on if you plan to store the whole thing. This will ensure that the white head of cauliflower inside stays as fresh as possible.
- There is much debate over whether the cold but dry hair of a refrigerator is really all that beneficial to cauliflower, and so for this reason, many people also put in a slightly damp paper towel with their cauliflower within the perforated plastic bag. This step is optional, and some people will not do it for fear of it turning bad more quickly. It is a personal choice and you should do whatever you think is best.
- The cauliflower should be kept at 32-40 degrees Fahrenheit and preferably within the vegetable crisper drawer of your refrigerator. This will ensure that the smell of the cauliflower does not affect the other foods within your refrigerator, and will also ensure that the smells of these other foods stay far away from the cauliflower.
- If you prefer not to keep the cauliflower in your refrigerator, you can keep it safely and securely wrapped up in your garage or outhouse, provided the temperatures are 32-40 degrees Fahrenheit. And that it is safe to store food there.
- With this method, your whole cauliflower should keep for around two weeks.
- If you want to cut your cauliflower first, then that is absolutely fine. However, you should take note that cut cauliflower has a much shorter shelf life. Cutting it can expose it to more air, making it turn a brown color. It will only keep for two days in the refrigerator if it has been cut, so ensure that you use it up as soon as possible. Of course, a way around this is to freeze your cut up cauliflower florets. Head on over to the next section to find out how you can do this.
Storing your cauliflower in the freezer
Cauliflower that has been cut up into individual florets can be frozen to extend the shelf life of it. In fact, it is thought that if you freeze it at its peak, it can taste as good as if it was fresh then you thaw it out to use it.
In this section of the article, we explore the best way to do this.
- Wash your cauliflower and remove all of the green leaves and stalks
- When you have washed the cauliflower you can start to cut or break the cauliflower up into bite-sized chunks, or florets as they are also called.
- If the cauliflower has come straight from your garden or from the fresh market, you may want to soak the cut-up florets in a bowl of salted water to remove any insects from them. If it is store-bought and already washed then you may skip this step if you wish.
- When the cauliflower has been washed you can then rinse them and prepare them for blanching. Blanching is where you introduce the cauliflower to boiling hot water for a short period of time.
- Bring a pan of water to the boil and put in your cauliflower for three minutes. Whilst it is in there prepare a bowl of iced water. It is important that this water is ice cold.
- When the three minutes are up simply put the cauliflower into the iced water to stop them from cooking any more for around 3 minutes. They are now blanched. They can then be prepared for the freezer.
- Simply portion them off into airtight, freezer-safe Ziploc bags and label them with the date you are freezing them and what they are. They can now be safely stored in the freezer for up to one year. When you are ready to eat them again simply remove the portion that you need from the freezer and cook them in hot water or leave them to thaw.