Cauliflower, cultivar unknown
|Botrytis cultivar group|
|Cultivar group members|
|Many; see text.|
Its name is from Latin caulis (cabbage) and flower, an acknowledgment of its unusual place among a family of food plants which normally produces only leafy greens for eating. Brassica oleracea also includes cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli and collard greens, though they are of different cultivar groups.
For such a highly modified plant, cauliflower has a long history. François Pierre La Varenne employed chouxfleurs in Le cuisinier françois. They had been introduced to France from Genoa in the 16th century, and are featured in Olivier de Serres' Théâtre de l'agriculture (1600), as cauli-fiori "as the Italians call it, which are still rather rare in France; they hold an honorable place in the garden because of their delicacy," but they did not commonly appear on grand tables until the time of Louis XIV.
Classification and identification
Botanical varietiesCauliflower and broccoli are the same species and have very similar structures, though cauliflower replaces the green flower buds with a white inflorescence meristem.
Major groupsThere are four major groups of cauliflower.
- Diverse appearance, biennial and annual types. Includes white, Romanesco, various green, purple, brown and yellow cultivars. This type is the ancestral form from which the others were derived.
- Northwest European biennial
- Used in Europe for winter and early spring harvest. Developed in France in the 19th century. Includes the old cultivars Roscoff and Angers.
- Northern European annuals
- Used in Europe and North America for summer and fall harvest. Developed in Germany in the 18th century. Includes old cultivars Erfurt and Snowball.
- Tropical cauliflower used in China and India. Developed in India during the 19th century from the now-abandoned Cornish type. Includes old varieties Early Patna and Early Benaras.
VarietiesA comprehensive list of varieties is maintained at North Carolina State University. Traditional varieties include 'Snowball', 'Hybrid White', 'Super Snowball', 'Snow Crown', 'Mayflower', Candid Charm', 'Mormon', 'Agrahani', 'poushi', 'maghi', 'Snow White', 'Snow Grace'.
Self-blanching varieties are 'Self Blanche', 'Early Tuscan', 'Late Tuscan'.
Heirloom varieties include 'All the Year Round', 'Early Pearl', 'Early Snowball', 'Igloo', 'Violetta Italia' and 'Walcheren Winter'.
Commercial varieties include 'Fremont', 'Igloo' and 'Snow Crown'.
- Orange cauliflower (B. oleracea L. var. botrytis) contains 25 times the level of Vitamin A of white varieties. This trait came from a natural mutant found in a cauliflower field in Canada. Cultivars include 'Cheddar' and 'Orange Bouquet'.
- Green cauliflower of the B. oleracea Botrytis group, is sometimes called broccoflower. It is available both with the normal curd shape and a variant spiky curd called "Romanesco broccoli". Both types have been commercially available in the US and Europe since the early 1990s. Green curded varieties include 'Alverda', 'Green Goddess' and 'Vorda'. Romanesco varieties include 'Minaret', and 'Veronica'.
- Purple cauliflower also exists. The purple color is caused by the presence of the antioxidant group anthocyanin, which can also be found in red cabbage and red wine. Varieties include 'Graffiti' and 'Purple Cape'. In Great Britain and southern Italy, a broccoli with tiny flower buds is sold as a vegetable under the name "purple cauliflower". It is not the same as standard cauliflower with a purple curd.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||103 kJ (25 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||2.5 g|
|Thiamine (Vit. B1)||0.057 mg (4%)|
|Riboflavin (Vit. B2)||0.063 mg (4%)|
|Niacin (Vit. B3)||0.53 mg (4%)|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||0.65 mg (13%)|
|Vitamin B6||0.22 mg (17%)|
|Folate (Vit. B9)||57 μg (14%)|
|Vitamin C||46 mg (77%)|
|Calcium||22 mg (2%)|
|Iron||0.44 mg (4%)|
|Magnesium||15 mg (4%)|
|Phosphorus||44 mg (6%)|
|Potassium||300 mg (6%)|
|Zinc||0.28 mg (3%)|
|Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults. |
Source: USDA Nutrient database
Cauliflower contains several phytochemicals, common in the Brassica genus, that may be beneficial to human health.
- Sulforaphane, a compound released when cauliflower is chopped or chewed may protect against cancer.
- Other glucosinolates
- Indole-3-carbinol, a chemical that enhances DNA repair, and acts as an estrogen antagonist, slowing the growth of cancer cells.
A high intake of cauliflower has been found to reduce the risk of aggressive prostate cancer.
Cookingfried, steamed or eaten raw. Steaming or microwaving better preserves anticancer compounds than boiling. When cooking, the outer leaves and thick stalks are removed, leaving only the florets. The leaves are also edible, but are most often discarded. The florets should be broken into similar-sized pieces so they are cooked evenly. After eight minutes of steaming, or five minutes of boiling, the florets should be soft, but not mushy (depending on size). Stirring while cooking can break the florets into smaller, uneven pieces. Cauliflower is often served with a cheese sauce, as in the dish cauliflower cheese.
Low carb dieters can use cauliflower as a reasonable substitute for potatoes; while they can produce a similar texture, or mouth feel, they lack the starch of potatoes.