When we eat cauliflower, we are eating the unformed flowers, which form a closed head that is usually white. It can be sown from January, and planted from March to August. Cauliflower needs a balanced and plentiful water supply in order to grow, as the growth of its head depends on the growth of the surrounding leaves. If the leaves do not close over the head on their own, the outer leaves need to be bent over the cauliflower head by hand. This prevents the white head from becoming discoloured. Cauliflower is ready to harvest 8-12 weeks after planting. The head should be closed and not discoloured. To harvest the cauliflower, the head is cut off together with the smaller surrounding leaves, which can also be trimmed.
Cauliflower contains high levels of vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and vitamin C (ascorbic acid). When it comes to phytochemicals, cauliflower contains glucosinolates, phytosterines and polyphenols.
Cauliflower is almost always eaten cooked. Cut off the tough leaves down to the base, trim the stalk, wash the head thoroughly, then cook whole or in florets for around 20 minutes, until al dente. If the head is cooked whole, it is a good idea to cut a cross into the stalk first. A little lemon juice in the cooking water keeps the head nice and white. The small, tender leaves close to the head or between the florets are a delicious “additional vegetable” when cooked.
Cauliflower should be eaten as fresh as possible. It keeps for one to three days in the vegetable drawer of the fridge. First, the leaves should be removed and the stalk cut off smoothly. It can also be lactic acid preserved. To preserve cauliflower, a 50-50 mixture of water and vinegar with spices, is brought to the boil and then filled into jars with cauliflower that has been boiled for around 10 minutes. This is then covered. The next day, the liquid is drained, brought to the boil again and poured over the cauliflower when boiling hot. The jars must then be sealed immediately. Cauliflower is popular preserved in this way as part of mixed pickles (with carrots, gherkins and onions). Individual florets can also be frozen after brief blanching (4-5 minutes).