Many people are trying to incorporate more vegetables in their diets, and cauliflower is a great one to add, since they are packed with goodness. However, storing can sometimes pose some difficulties. Should they be kept in the refrigerator or the pantry? Wrapped or unwrapped?
Cauliflower is best stored in an open plastic bag or a perforated plastic bag inside your refrigerator’s crisper drawer. They shouldn’t be cut before use, or stored with the head down, as moisture will gather on the head and cause it to turn brown quickly.
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How To Choose Fresh Cauliflower
Part of storing a cauliflower well involves buying one that is fresh to begin with. If you don’t select your cauliflower with care, you may find that it’s gone off before you’ve even had a chance to cut it.
The first thing to watch out for when buying a cauliflower is brown spots. These indicate that the vegetable has been damaged, and they will usually be a breeding ground for mold, which will ruin your cauliflower very quickly. Avoid cauliflower that has brown or purple marks, or plan to use them up quickly if you do buy them.
You should look for a nice, even, creamy color all over the cauliflower, as well as dense and firm florets. Gently poke the florets to check that they are not squashy or soggy.
Cauliflower that are purchased with their leaves on should have fresh, full leaves. Limp or dried out leaves are a sign that the cauliflower is starting to pass its best.
It’s also worth smelling the cauliflower (without touching your nose to it, preferably!). A fresh cauliflower should not have a very strong scent, while a cauliflower that is passing its prime will smell stronger. Cauliflowers that smell unpleasant should be discarded as too old.
How To Store Fresh Cauliflower
When you have selected your cauliflower and brought it home, it’s time to put it in the refrigerator.
If you purchased your cauliflower in a perforated bag, you don’t need to transfer it to anything else. If your cauliflower is wrapped in cellophane, remove this as it will trap too much moisture and could cause the cauliflower to rot.
However, if you purchased your cauliflower loose, something like these Perforated Plastic Bags For Vegetable Fruit Produce should work well to keep your cauliflower fresh and aerated. The holes allow moisture to escape, while the plastic reduces the airflow and slows down the aging process.
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If you don’t have either to hand, you can also store a cauliflower in an open plastic bag, but check it for the buildup of moisture and dry the vegetable off if it gets too damp.
Cauliflowers like to be kept between 32-40° F and they prefer very high humidity levels, up to 95%. If your refrigerator is very dry, you may wish to place a slightly damp paper towel at the bottom of your cauliflower’s bag to increase the humidity and keep the vegetable fresher for longer.
You don’t want to store your cauliflower below 32° F because it will start to lose its color, and won’t look very appetizing. Temperatures higher than 40° F may dry a cauliflower out and cause it to mold.
You can freeze cauliflower if you aren’t going to eat it quickly. Break up and wash the florets, and then blanch them for three minutes. Rinse them, drain them, and then put them in freezer bags or Tupperwares and place them in the freezer.
You can also steam the cauliflower florets for a few minutes if you prefer this method to blanching.
How Long Can Cauliflower Be Stored For?
Cauliflowers that are stored properly can keep for a couple of weeks, especially if you manage to keep them humid enough so that they don’t dry out, but not so humid that they mold. Some will even stay good for four weeks, but others will only manage about a week.
Buying a very fresh cauliflower maximizes the amount of time you can store it for. Other things, such as any damage to the cauliflower’s florets, will also affect its shelf life, so try to choose a perfect cauliflower if you need it to keep well.
A cauliflower’s leaves will often turn limp before the rest of the vegetable does. Many people simply discard them, but they are actually very tasty and can be grilled or cooked in stews and soups. You can simply cut them away from the cauliflower, wash them, and use them.
Don’t expect your cauliflower to last longer than a couple of weeks in the fridge – if it does, you’re in luck and have a great storage technique.
If you aren’t going to use your cauliflower in time, blanch and freeze the florets, and these can be kept for a whole year without any issue at all. Don’t try to freeze a whole, raw cauliflower, however.
You may find that the frozen florets lack a bit of texture when they are defrosted, but otherwise, frozen cauliflower should be fine.
How To Tell If Cauliflower Is Expired
Cauliflowers that have gone off emit a pungent and unpleasant smell that can be surprisingly strong. You will also see brown spots appearing on the florets. These can be cut away when they first start and the rest of the cauliflower will be fine, but once they have spread, the vegetable is not good to eat.
You may also notice the florets turning limp and losing their crispness when the cauliflower is going bad.
Things To Avoid Doing
- Don’t purchase cauliflowers with brown spots
- Don’t store your cauliflower above 40° F
- Don’t keep your cauliflower wrapped in plastic or in an airtight container
Cauliflowers are easy to store and can last very well in the fridge, especially if you keep them slightly damp using a paper towel. Don’t let them get soggy, and if you notice brown spots, make sure you cut them off and use the cauliflower up as soon as possible to avoid wasting it.