What is Cauliflower?
Cauliflower is a member of the Brassicaceae or mustard family. The name of the vegetable comes from Latin caulis (cabbage) and floris (flower) literally translating to cabbage flower. It is a type of cruciferous vegetable, similar to arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, kale, radish, turnip, and watercress. The vegetable has a white head, which is the edible part, and sits on a green stem with leaves.
- The stems may also be consumed.
- It has a nutty flavor with bitter undertones when consumed raw, but becomes sweeter and nuttier when cooked.
Some common varieties of this vegetable include:
- Early White
- Flame Star
- Purple Cape
- Sicilian Violet
Origin of cauliflower
This vegetable is a descendent of wild cabbage and was developed from kale. It was originally developed in Turkey or Cyprus through selective breeding somewhere between 500 and 1500 AD. It eventually became popular in France around the 1500s, and then spread throughout Europe. Colonization took it to the rest of the world. It only reached North America in the 1900s. Today, it is a popular vegetable in much of the world. It is one of the many human made vegetables that is now widely consumed.
Nutritional profile for cauliflower (100 gms, boiled):
Cauliflower is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, vitamin C, folate, choline, carotene, vitamin A, lutein + zeaxanthin, and vitamin K. Also, it has anti-inflammatory properties and the presence of glucosinolates helps in reducing the risk of cancers as well as cardiovascular diseases. The best way to eat this vegetable is to cook it by steaming, stir-frying, or microwaving, which allow it to retain almost all the nutrients. Boiling or blanching results in a large loss of nutrients.
China is the largest producer of cauliflower and broccoli, followed by India, the USA, Spain, Mexico, Italy, Poland, France, Bangladesh, Turkey, and Pakistan.
Cauliflower is a winter crop and requires cool weather to flourish. The vegetable usually has a white head but can also be found in orange, purple, and green colors. It requires a rich soil and extra nutrients. Once formed, the head needs to be blanched by covering it with the leaves in order to not allow direct sun. This vegetable may be safely stored in the refrigerator for about a week.
This is a versatile vegetable that may be cooked and consumed in a variety of ways. This vegetable works well added raw in salads. It can be cooked by boiling, steaming, frying, or sautéing. Also, it can be eaten with a dip or mixed with different spices. Additionally, it is considered a keto friendly food and the best substitute for starch, since it can be adapted into making anything including pizza base and rice. Here are a few recipes:
- Kung Pao Cauliflower
- Gobi Manchurian
- Cauliflower Stir Fry
- Flower Batata Rassa
- Roasted Cauliflower
- Cauliflower Rice
- Achari Gobhi
- Coliflor Ofegada
- Cheesy Mash
- Surówka z Kalafiora
- Karnabahar Yemeği
- Gobi Gosht
- Sült Karfiol
The FDA describes all fresh vegetables, including cauliflower, as raw agricultural commodities and strictly regulates all aspects of their growing, harvesting, packing, and storage. Also, it is among the 20 most frequently consumed raw vegetables. The USDA regulates the grades of these vegetables and specifies that the curds must be clean, compact, and of a white or cream color unless otherwise specified.
Cauliflower, The Old Farmer’s Almanac, https://www.almanac.com/plant/cauliflower
Ahmed, Fouad A, and Rehab F M Ali. “Bioactive compounds and antioxidant activity of fresh and processed white cauliflower.” BioMed research international vol. 2013 (2013): 367819. doi:10.1155/2013/367819, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3793502/
Drabińska, Natalia et al. “Variation in the Accumulation of Phytochemicals and Their Bioactive Properties among the Aerial Parts of Cauliflower.” Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 10,10 1597. 12 Oct. 2021, doi:10.3390/antiox10101597, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8533432/