We're generally available all year around but at our best in the cold winter months of May to September.
We're not sold by variety but by colour. We come in white, purple and sometimes orange colours.
We prefer to be grown in cool, dry weather, on clay-like to sandy soil with plenty of access to water. We're grown from seedlings, which are generally grown in a nursery, and then transplanted into the ground. We're ready for harvesting when the ‘curds' are large and firm.
We have large, spreading, green leaves at our base which surround our central stalk which bears a mass of large round white to creamy-white curds, so called because it looks like milk curds. If we were not covered with leaves while growing, instead of little white curds we would form lots of small, yellow inedible flowers.
We're harvested when our head is still firm and has reached the appropriate size. A farmer will check our heads up to 5 times to ensure we're ready to harvest which is done by cutting our stem off at ground level.
To choose the best white cauliflowers select firm, compact, creamy-white heads with florets pressed tightly together. A yellow tinge indicates that we are too old. Any leaves should be bright green and crisp.
Purple and orange cauliflowers should have a vibrant colour and be firm and compact too.
Buy cauliflower, whole, cut in half or quartered and ready-cut into florets.
Don’t wash us, store whole cauliflower in a recyclable plastic bag with our heads turned up in the fridge. Use within 3-4 days.
Cover cut cauliflower and keep in the fridge. Store trimmed florets in an airtight container in the fridge.
We're mentioned as coming from Syria by a Spanish Arab in the 12th century. We spread from Crete and Malta to the Italian mainland in the late 14th century and from there into Europe. It took until the end of the 18th century for us to become popular throughout Europe and England.
Along with other vegetables, we were planted on Norfolk Island in March 1788. A letter exists from Governor Arthur Phillip, the first governor appointed by the British, to Sir Joseph Banks telling him that ‘colly flowers' had been growing at Sydney Cove for weeks. We were also recorded as growing in a garden at The Rocks, Sydney, in 1803 with some being as large as 4.5 – 5.5kg. We were an essential vegetable in the early life of the colony.
To prepare us, remove the leaves and trim the base then cut the stems into florets that will look like snow-covered little cloudy trees. Rinse just before using.
Cauliflower florets can be blitzed in a food processor to make healthy cauliflower rice or a cauliflower pizza base.
Coat us in flour, egg and cheesy breadcrumbs and fry to make cauliflower ‘popcorn’.
We are great for steaming, roasting and microwaving.
Add us to soups and creamy pasta bakes.
We team very well with cheese sauce in a gratin or oven-baked dish.
You must take a look at these great cauliflower recipes from Sydney Markets;