Cauliflower is an excellent vegetable for snacks and meals. It is easy to prepare and can be eaten in many different ways. Cauliflower can be cooked, steamed, boiled, roasted, or even eaten raw. Since it is such a versatile vegetable, we must know how long cauliflower lasts and what we can do to keep its quality intact for as long as possible.
Cauliflower has many different ways in which it is used in our meals, it also can be cooked in several ways and makes up a large portion of dishes such as pizza crusts and falafel. Cauliflower is often used to make dips such as ranch and hummus. It is also used as a rice substitute to make cauliflower rice. So many different dishes and one powerful ingredient!
This blog post will help you learn everything you need to know to work with cauliflower. Starting with how to buy the right products, how to store them, and when the time comes, identify if it is time to discard the produce. You will find it all here. Let’s get started!
When you are grocery shopping and looking for a cauliflower head, take stock of these tips to help you make the right choice.
When you buy cauliflower at the market, most times, it comes tightly wrapped in cellophane. This kind of packaging can cause it to rot. Instead, transfer the cauliflower to a perforated plastic bag.
Unless you plan to use your cauliflower in the next day or so, you are better off storing the cauliflower in the refrigerator. If you are storing the cauliflower on the counter, keep it in a relatively cool spot away from direct sunlight and heat.
On the counter, your cauliflower will last for a maximum of 2 – 4 days, depending on the storage conditions.
You can improve the storage life from a few days to a few weeks by storing your cauliflower in the fridge. Use a damp paper towel to wrap your cauliflower head for maximum freshness. Cauliflower likes high humidity, and by wrapping it in a damp paper towel, we can create an ideal environment for it to thrive. Just make sure that the paper towel is damp and not wet, as that will cause the cauliflower to rot.
Place the wrapped cauliflower in a special perforated produce bag and seal it shut. If you don’t have a perforated bag, cut some holes in a regular plastic bag and then place your wrapped cauliflower in it.
Your cauliflower is now ready to be stored in the refrigerator. Store the cauliflower in the crisper drawer of your fridge for maximum benefit. Properly stored cauliflower will last between 7 – 21 days in the fridge, depending on the storage and the quality of the produce.
Check on the cauliflower every couple of days. If the paper towel has dried out, replace it with a new damp paper towel.
You can increase the shelf life of your cauliflower exponentially by storing it in the freezer. The method to freeze it is simple as well. Start by prepping your cauliflower and then washing it thoroughly. Next, blanch the prepared cauliflower for a few minutes and then plunge them into a cold water bath to stop the cooking process. Once the cauliflower has cooled, dry them before flash freezing them for a few hours. When the cauliflower has frozen solid, it can be transferred to freezer-safe bags and loaded into the freezer for long-term storage.
Frozen cauliflower will easily last for 12 – 18 months in your freezer and can stay safe for use even beyond that. The only part you have to be careful about is properly freezing and storing the cauliflower.
You must store cooked Cauliflower in the refrigerator. Store the cauliflower in airtight containers to maintain their freshness and taste and store them in the fridge for 3 – 5 days.
You also have the option of freezing your cooked cauliflower if you are cooking them with the intention of meal prep. Depending on the ingredients that have gone in, the cooked cauliflower will last between 8 – 10 months in the freezer. Double wrap the cauliflower in cling wrap and aluminum foil before placing it in freezer bags to help them retain their quality and flavor.
When you store the cauliflower for an extended period in the refrigerator, it is best to keep it unwashed. Washing the cauliflower before storing it introduces unwanted moisture to the vegetable and drastically decreases its shelf life.
Instead, store the cauliflower unwashed and when you are ready to use it, then wash it. Start by removing the outer layers of the leaves. If they are a little tough to remove by hand, use a small paring knife to cut them out. Next, separate the florets. To separate the florets, place the cauliflower upside down on a cutting board and, using the paring knife, move from the outer edge to the inside of the cauliflower, separating the florets as you go.
When the florets are all separated, soak them in water to remove any water dislodged in the florets. Rinse out the florets in some flowing water to clean them thoroughly. If there are any black or brown spots on any florets, scrape them out. You can even use a vegetable scrubber to scrub the florets gently.
When the florets are all clean, drain them into a colander and let them air dry for a few minutes. You can then use these cauliflowers in your recipes, or if you are preparing them for freezing, pat them dry with some paper towels and cut them into smaller pieces if required.
If your cauliflower has spots that have turned from brown to black and have spread all over the cauliflower head, it is a sign that it has started decaying. Any discoloration on the cauliflower head, it is another sign that the cauliflower is going bad in storage.
If the cauliflower head seems mushy in places, it is another sign of decay. In case of any mold on the cauliflower, it is best to discard it. If there is an off-odor from the cauliflower, it is another sign that tells you the cauliflower has started to go bad.
Remember that food safety is of utmost importance and should not be taken lightly. If at any time you are not a hundred percent sure whether the food you are about to eat is safe to consume or not, do not eat it. “When in doubt, throw it out” is a good mantra to remember at these times.
Cauliflower is a delicious and healthy vegetable that should be a part of your diet if it already is not. The possibilities of using cauliflower in different dishes are endless, and it serves as an excellent alternative to some of the more calorie-heavy ingredients. With a bit of care on your part, you can get your cauliflower haul to last you for a long time. So, the next time you are at the grocery store weighing whether you should buy that cauliflower, don’t hesitate and go for it!
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