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Brassica oleracea var. botrytis

printable quick reference guide to cauliflower with recipes


The Winter and Spring varieties are all planted in July but will continue to build a frame until they are triggered by combinations (particular to each variety) of day lengths or temperatures to initiate a curd. This can be very unpredictable and varies from year to year according to weather conditions. The resulting wild fluctuations in supply creates gluts and shortages and a volatile market where wholesalers and farmers frequently fall out as they try to get the upper hand. Brittany Ferries was set up by a cooperative of French farmers so that they could get Brittany Cauliflowers to the UK quickly when the price was high.

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Store uncooked cauliflower in a paper or plastic bag in the refrigerator where it will keep for up to a week. To prevent moisture from developing in the floret clusters, store it with the stem side down.

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Origins and Culture

Cauliflower traces its ancestry to the wild cabbage, a plant thought to have originated in ancient Asia Minor, which resembled kale or collards more than the vegetable that we now know it to be.

The cauliflower went through many transformations and reappeared in the Mediterranean region, where it has been an important vegetable in Turkey and Italy since at least 600 B.C.

It gained popularity in France in the mid-16th century and was subsequently cultivated in Northern Europe and the British Isles. The United States, France, Italy, India and China are countries that produce significant amounts of cauliflower.

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Nutritional and Medicinal Properties

Like other cruciferous vegetables, cauliflower is a nutritional powerhouse, though it does not contain as many carotenes or chlorophyll as broccoli or cabbage. Cauliflower contains indoles, sulforphane and vitamin C, three cancer fighters. It is also a good source of potassium and contains 16% of the recommended daily allowance for folacin.

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Basic Cooking Instructions

Here are four steps to preparing cauliflower for steaming:

1. Pull off all the outer leaves from the cauliflower and trim off the stem near the base of the head.
2. Next, turn the cauliflower upside down so the stem is facing up. Using a sharp knife, cut around the core to remove it.
3. Separate the individual florets from the inner stem using the tip of a chef's knife.
4. Cut the florets in half or quarters if necessary so that individual pieces are about one inch long, (or 3/4-inches for cauliflower gratin recipes).

Cauliflower should be left unwashed when storing. Store in the refrigerator, with stem side down, in an open plastic bag or use a perforated plastic bag.

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