written by: Mita Majumdar
• edited by: Donna Cosmato
• updated: 11/26/2010
Cauliflower has many health benefits like anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This is reason enough to consume cauliflower year-round, but you already know this. That’s why you need to know how to store cauliflower so that these anti-oxidants and vitamins are retained.
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About Storing Cauliflower
Although cauliflower is by nature a cool weather crop, it may be grown and harvested throughout the year. Cauliflower is at its best between December and end of March when it has a firm yet slightly spongy texture and a nutty sweet flavor. Unfortunately, cauliflower tends to mature all at once. Whether you are growing cauliflower, and you get an overabundant crop, or you prefer to buy cauliflower from the local market, you may wonder how to store cauliflower for later use so it does not lose its taste and texture.
Whether you store whole cauliflowers, cauliflower florets, or cooked cauliflower, you can store them from a couple of days to about a year depending on the storage mode. Normally, this vegetable can be stored and keep all its nutrients intact just for a week or so. For storing, select fresh, compact, white or cream colored cauliflower that feel heavy for its size. Discolored or spotted ones spoil faster.
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Storing Cooked Cauliflower
Cooked cauliflower does not store well. Be careful while cooking cauliflower, as overcooking it produces a strong sulfur odor. This is because cauliflower contains phytonutrients that release sulfur compounds when heated. So, the downside is cooked, or more specifically, overcooked cauliflower spoils very quickly. You can store it for two to three days in the refrigerator after cooking. Beyond that time, the cauliflower loses its taste and texture.
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Storing Cauliflower without Refrigerating
If you are growing and harvesting cauliflower yourself, you have the advantage of storing a large number of cauliflowers, and you can do that without refrigerating them. Lift the whole plant along with the roots, taking care not to bruise the curds, and hang them upside down in a cool shed. Syringe them daily; alternatively, you may spray the curds lightly with mist every morning. Cauliflower can be stored for about a month in this way.
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Storing Cauliflower by Refrigerating
Store uncooked cauliflower in a paper or plastic bag in the crisper section of the refrigerator. The Arizona Department of Health Services recommends keeping your refrigerator between 35 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit for optimum freshness of the food. This recommendation goes for cauliflowers as well, and they can last up to two weeks if this temperature is maintained throughout. Make tiny perforations in the plastic or paper bags used to store the cauliflower if it didn’t come wrapped when purchased. Store cauliflower with the stem side down so that moisture does not develop in the curd. You can also cut the cauliflower into florets, and store the florets in a sealed, plastic bag in the refrigerator. Florets can stay fresh up to a week if properly refrigerated.
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Cut the cauliflower into florets that are about two inches (5 cm) in diameter. Add the juice of one lemon to the blanching water to keep them white. If you need to remove insects, soak for about 30 minutes in salt solution. Drain. Blanch them in water for three minutes. Cool promptly and drain. Transfer blanched cauliflower into suitable containers for freezing at zero degrees Fahrenheit. Take care that containers are moisture and vapor resistant. They should also be break-resistant at low temperatures. Freezer-grade plastic bags, glass containers, and heavy-duty aluminum foils are suitable for storing cauliflower in the freezer. Frozen cauliflower will stay good for 10 to 12 months.
Freezing is one of the easiest methods of storing cauliflower. Freezing retains the taste and nutrients and can be stored for a longer period of time. Now that you know how to store cauliflower easily and quickly, why not get some soon and put your new skill to the test?