About Cauliflower

About Cauliflower

Cauliflower Nutritional Profile


Energy value (calories per serving): Low

Protein: High

Fat: Low

Saturated fat: Low

Cholesterol: None

Carbohydrates: High

Fiber: High

Sodium: Low

Major vitamin contribution: B vitamins, vitamin C

Major mineral contribution: Potassium


About the Nutrients Cauliflower


Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C and a moderately good source of folate, a member of the B vitamin family.


One-half cup cooked fresh cauliflower florets (the top of the plant) has 1 g dietary fiber, 13.5 mcg folate (7 percent of the RDA for a man, 7.5 percent of the RDA for a woman) and 34.5 mg vitamin C (57.5 percent of the RDA).


The Most Nutritious Way to Serve Cauliflower


Raw or lightly steamed to protect the vitamin C. Cooked or frozen cauliflower may have up to 50 percent less vitamin C than raw cauliflower.


Diets That May Restrict or Exclude Cauliflower


Anti-flatulence diet Low-fiber diet


Buying Cauliflower


Look for: Creamy white heads with tight, compact florets and fresh green leaves. The size of the cauliflower has no bearing on its nutritional value or its taste.


Avoid: Cauliflower with brown spots or patches.


Storing Cauliflower


Keep cauliflower in a cool, humid place to safeguard its vitamin C content.


Preparing Cauliflower


Pull off and discard any green leaves still attached to the cauliflower and slice off the woody stem and core. Then plunge the cauliflower, head down, into a bowl of salted ice water to flush out any insects hiding in the head. To keep the cauliflower crisp when cooked, add a teaspoon of vinegar to the water. You can steam or bake the cauliflower head whole or break it up into florets for faster cooking.


What Happens When You Cook Cauliflower


Cauliflower contains mustard oils (isothiocyanates), natural chemicals that give the vegetable its taste but break down into a variety of smelly sulfur compounds (including hydrogen sulfide and ammonia) when the cauliflower is heated. The longer you cook the cauliflower, the better it will taste but the worse it will smell. Adding a slice of bread to the cooking water may lessen the odor; keeping a lid on the pot will stop the smelly molecules from floating off into the air.


Cooking cauliflower in an aluminum pot will intensify its odor and turn its creamy white anthoxanthin pigments yellow; iron pots will turn anthoxanthins blue green or brown. Like red and blue anthocyanin pigments (see BEETS, BLACKBERRIES, BLUEBERRIES), anthoxanthins hold their color best in acids. To keep cauliflower white, add a tablespoon of lemon juice, lime juice, vinegar, or milk to the cooking water.

Steaming or stir-frying cauliflower preserves the vitamin C that would be lost if the vegetable were cooked for a long time or in a lot of water.


How Other Kinds of Processing Affect Cauliflower


Freezing. Before it is frozen, cauliflower must be blanched to inactivate catalase and peroxidase, enzymes that would otherwise continue to ripen and eventually deteriorate the vegetable. According to researchers at Cornell University, cauliflower will lose less vitamin C if it is blanched in very little water (2 cups cauliflower in 2 tbsp. water) in a microwave-safe plastic bag in a microwave oven for four minutes at 600�700 watts. Leave the bag open an inch at the top so steam can escape and the bag does not explode.

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