For any vegetable purist out there, cauliflower has its special spot on the grocery list. Before buying them, always ask yourself, “how long does cauliflower last?” In case you have no clue, read this post to learn more about these unassuming food.
All about Cauliflower
What do cabbages, Brussel sprouts, bok choy, cauliflowers and broccoli have in common? They all belong to the same family!
Did you know the above vegetables are part of the Brassicaceae group? They are commonly known as cruciferous vegetables. This is because of the curly and bulbous leaves they have.
Cauliflower is scientifically known as brassica oleracea. Its name is a Latin connotation of caulis, which means cabbage and floris – flower.
Cauliflower is believed to have originated in Cyprus, a country in the Mediterranean region. It was later imported to Europe in the 16th century.
This plant thrives in cool, temperate regions. Hot temperatures wreak havoc on their growth.
You are probably familiar with the white cauliflower. However, are you aware of the other varieties?
It turns out there are differently colored cauliflowers. These are purple, green, fioretto as well as orange/yellow varieties.
Cauliflower has numerous white florets enclosed in green leaves and stalk. However, it’s only the florets that are usually eaten.
The versatility of this cruciferous vegetable has surged in recent years. With the explosion of different diets, people have resorted to modify food items widely.
As such, there are numerous ways you can prepare cauliflower – from sautéing to steaming to roasting to pan-frying.
Additionally, there are countless recipes that utilize cauliflower – as a substitute for other ingredients. They include: pizza crusts, mash, gnocchi, rice, hummus, tortillas, bread and stuffing all made from cauliflower.
Its nutty, subtle flavor pairs well with many dishes.
Nutritional Value of Cauliflower
This unassuming, plain vegetable is choke-full of nutrients. It is not only high in water content, it is a low-caloric food.
Moreover, it is packed with vitamins, antioxidants and minerals that your body will be thankful for. Check them out:
Cruciferous vegetables are rich in this sulfur-rich element. Sulforaphane is the inactive form of a plant compound called glucosinolate.
Sulforaphane is touted for its anti-cancer properties, improves heart health and digestion. It works by lowering inflammation as well as blood sugar levels in the body.
This essential nutrient is responsible for the growth and development of body tissues. It helps in the development of collagen for skin, cartilage, bones and teeth.
Ascorbic acid facilitates wound healing and aids in the absorption of iron. It also maintains blood vessels.
A single cup of cauliflower is enough to give you your daily vitamin C needs.
Cauliflower is one of the richest sources of potassium. A single cup has 9% of your daily requirements.
This trace mineral does the following: Promotes body cell function, regulates sodium effects in the body and balances intracellular fluids.
Additionally, it regulates blood pressure levels and facilitates nerve as well as muscle functions.
Cauliflower provides you with about 14% of your daily folate needs. Adequate folate intake is crucial for your body. This B-vitamin aids in the formation of both white and red blood cells. Folate is necessary in all cycles of growth – fetus development in pregnancy, infancy and puberty. As such, folate deficiency especially in pregnancy is associated with neural birth defects in infants.
This element plays a vital role in your digestion system. Dietary fiber or roughage is touted for promoting bowel movement. Additionally, it enhances satiety, making you feel full for a long period. This is because it releases energy slowly and adds bulk to your diet.
Other nutrients found in small amounts include: phosphorous, calcium, thiamin, protein, magnesium as well as sugars.
Shelf Life of Cauliflower
Cauliflower, like most vegetables, commonly comes with a packaged on date. Inclusion of use by or best by dates depends on the store or market. Therefore, knowing the shelf life of cauliflower comes in handy.
Whether you have freshly bought heads or cooked leftovers, effective storage guarantees a longer shelf life. Cauliflower has a high water content, hence deterioration is imminent.
Refrigerate both fresh, raw and cooked cauliflower. Well refrigerated raw cauliflower stays in good quality from 2 to 3 weeks. When refrigerating, wrap the heads loosely in plastic bags.
Cooked cauliflower has a shorter shelf life – up to 10 days.
You can also freeze cauliflower. Blanch the florets first. Shock them in ice water. This helps to keep them crunchy and to prevent further cooking. Pat them dry before storing in freezer friendly bags or containers. Once well frozen, it keeps well for up to 8 months.
How to Prolong the Shelf Life of Cauliflower
Ever heard of cauliflower popcorns? This is what happens when you dry cauliflower. Dehydration is not only a fantastic preservation technique, it also transforms the texture. When dehydrating,
- Thoroughly wash to eliminate any soil.
- Section the florets into smaller heads. Alternatively, you can blend the florets into cauliflower rice.
- Opt to use either the oven or food dehydrator for optimal results.
- Blanching before drying is optional.
- When well dried, it turns brown in color and has brittle, crunchy texture.
- Store in airtight containers, away from direct sunlight and moisture.
Dried cauliflower is shelf stable.
Pickled foods are touted for their amazing health benefits. They are rich sources of probiotics or gut-friendly bacteria.
Pickles also contain essential nutrients which fight off inflammation, boost the immune system and promote healthy skin. Fermented cauliflower is one example.
This ancient method of preservation entails immersing the florets in brine solution. This is simply a solution of salt, water and spices.
Use the following tips for optimal results:
- Clean and cut the florets into smaller pieces.
- Discard the leaves. Chop off a bit of the stalks.
- Sterilize the mason jars.
- Prepare the brine solution. You can boil or just mix the ingredients and leave to combine well for a few hours.
- Arrange the florets in the jars and pour the liquid over.
- Loosely cover the jars. This allows gas to pass through during fermentation.
- Place the jars away from obstruction for a few days.
Well pickled cauliflower change color. They also have a sour taste.
Store the jars in the refrigerator, or if unopened, in the pantry, away from sunlight.
Fermented type keeps well for up to 2 years, if unopened.
You can identify spoiled cauliflower in a cinch. Here’s how:
- Visible brown spots on the florets
- Pockets of mold
- Slimy, wet texture
- Softened, spongy flesh
- Blackened stem
- Off-odor. Your sense of smell is perfect for detecting rot.
Cauliflower is as versatile as it gets. besides knowing how to use it, always ponder over how long it can last. This comes in handy when storing it.