Cauliflower, together with other well-known edible plants of brassica family (kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, etc.) is a descendant of a wild cabbage or Brassica olaracea. You can find wild cabbage growing in coastal areas on cliffs around Southern and Western Europe.
Cauli – flower, is a cabbage flower, which was bread to produce a head of immature flower buds. They are the edible part of the plant, and are harvested before it actually flowers. Its head is tightly surrounded by green leaves that protect the head from making chloroplyll, turning green and bitter. It’s head, which is sometimes referred to as ‘curd’ is usually white, but there are cauliflowers with yellow, purple, orrange, or even green heads.
It is a cold season crop and is available in the UK from around late autumn to early spring.
When buying look for white heads, with no spots of discoloration, and vibrant green leaves. Cauliflower doesn’t store particularly well, so it is best kept in a fridge for up to one week.
If you are buying cauliflower from an organic grower, or harvesting from your garden, make sure to soak it in water for at least 20 minutes or so. You will be surprised how much wildlife is hiding in there.
Like with other big veg, first stabilise the base- cut off the base so that your cauliflower head stands still.
Cut around the base, removing the leaves, and then chop down the stem. Reserve all this as it can be cooked in different delicious ways (e.g.cauliflower stem kimchi).
The most important thing to know when cooking cauliflower is that it’s really easy to overcook it. It will loose its crunch and flavour, and it just won’t taste good.
Boiling or steaming is the simplest way of cooking cauliflower. Cauliflower is usually added to the pot of boiling salted water and cooked, till just tender. If you cut your cauli into florets, it will take you around 5-7 minutes to boil or steam, but be sure to check with a sharp knife, you should feel some resistance. If you’re making a soup or a mash then you can safely cook cauliflower till it’s soft throughout. Try checking with a knife-there should be no resistance.