Cauliflower, (Brassica oleracea), is a member of the cabbage family. It is said to have originated in the area of the Mediterranean or Asia Minor. It has been in our diet for more than 2500 years. It was possibly cultivated in Egypt around the 4th century BC. Cauliflower was a popular staple in the time of Louis XIV. Today, it is an important vegetable staple in the British Isles, and has a high production rate in England. Cauliflower means stalk flower. (caulis = stalk, Floris = flower). It has a head, or heart, composed of bunches of tiny florets on clusters of stalks. It is hard and compressed. It almost looks like curd. It grows on a short, central stalk, and is surrounded by crisp, blueish-green leaves. There are three main colors of cauliflower: white, the most common; violet, and pale green. The purple variety turns green when cooked, and is much milder than the white variety.
Cauliflower can be eaten raw or cooked. Since cauliflower is sort of bland, dry heat helps to concentrate that flavor. Also, the shorter you cook it, the more flavor it will retain. Over cooking cauliflower will cause it to be pasty. Cauliflower is available year round, but the flavor is the best in the fall. It contains vitamin C, iron, folic acid, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin K, copper, citric acid, and malic acid. It also has many cancer inhibiting properties. Choose cauliflower that feels heavy and is firm. There should not be any blossoms, or brown spots.