Cauliflower is a single-stalked, half-hardy, biennial member of the cole, or cabbage family. A cauliflower head is made up of small, tightly compact white florets in thick stems. The entire plant is edible including the leaves.

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Preparing and Serving Cauliflower

Remove outer leaves, break off florets, trim brown spots, and wash them under running water. Cauliflower serves up well both raw and cooked. Raw, its flavor is less intense and more acceptable to children. Let them dip it into fat-free dressing.

Steam cauliflower but don't overcook it. Overcooking destroys its vitamin C and folic acid. Moreover, overcooking gives cauliflower a bitter, pungent flavor. To prevent this, steam it in a non-aluminum pan over a small amount of water, until a folk barely pierces a floret - about five minutes. Remove the cover soon after cooking begins to release odoriferous sulfur compounds.

How to Store Cauliflower to Extend its Shelf Life

The shelf life of cauliflower, like most other fresh vegetables may not have a sell by date, use by date, or best before date so you have to go with purchase date in most cases. Because of the high vitamin content in cauliflower and its versatility to pose as many other ingredients in recipes, cauliflower is becoming more and more popular. Cauliflower can be creatively substituted  for rice, potatoes, and even flour!

To extend the shelf life of cauliflower, it is best to store the whole head in a sealed plastic bag in the vegetable drawer of the fridge. DO NOT wash the cauliflower until just before use. Just break off what you need and rinse that section when ready to use. For a longer term option, cauliflower may be frozen for 6 - 8 months, but they should be blanched first and placed into freezer safe containers. Some benefits of proper food storage include eating healthier, cutting food costs, and helping the environment by avoiding wastes.

How to tell if Cauliflower is Bad, rotten or Spoiled

When cauliflower is starting to go bad, the first sign that you will see is brown spots starting to appear on the outside of the white head. If you catch these spots early, you can simply cut them off. But, once they begin to spread and take over the head, then it has gone bad. Next, cauliflower will begin to smell and get a moist and even slimy texture. it will no longer be hard and crisp and should not be eaten.

Similar changes will take place for purple and green cauliflower, although they tend to be slightly more delicate than the basic white variety. Brown spots are more difficult to distinguish and they will begin to show the other signs of decay at the shorter end of the range.