Guide to Cauliflower
Fresh, raw cauliflower has a lovely crisp texture and mild, neutral character. It sparkles when roasted, yielding a creamy texture and a nutty taste.
SEASON: Cauliflower is sold fresh from early summer into fall.
CHOOSING: Look for heads that are tight and firm. Avoid those with discoloration that comes with aging.
STORING: Place cauliflower in a produce bag in the coldest part of your refrigerator, where it should last for four to seven days.
GROWING: Unless your summer or winter is extremely mild, spring and fall are the best times to grow cauliflower. Set out transplants in a sunny, well-drained, prepared bed. The seedlings need about two months to mature, so begin planting about four weeks before the last spring frost, or in late summer, two months before the first fall freeze.
Space plants about 18 to 24 inches apart so the large, gray-green leaves have room to gather the sun’s energy. Feed at planting with a dilute liquid fertilizer, and then fertilize again in three to four weeks. Apply mulch to help keep the soil moist and prevent problems with weeds.
You’ve probably seen the leaves wrapping around the head in the market. Cauliflower has been bred to do this. It prevents sunburn on the edible portion. If your plants are not shading the developing head, use twine or a clothespin to hold them in place. Cut the head of cauliflower while it is still firm and tight. Waiting will result in a loose, mealy head.