Cauliflower traces its ancestry to the wild cabbage, a plant thought to have originated in ancient Asia Minor, which resembled kale or collards more than the vegetable that we now know it to be.
Cauliflower gained popularity in France in the mid-16th century and was subsequently cultivated in Northern Europe and the British Isles. The United States, France, Italy, India and China are countries that produce significant amounts of cauliflower.
Cauliflower lacks the green chlorophyll found in other members of the cruciferous family of vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and kale, because the leaves of the plant shield the florets from the sun as they grow. It has a compact head (called a "curd"), usually about six inches in diameter that is composed of undeveloped flower buds. The flowers are attached to a central stalk.
Cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, and kale, contain compounds that may help prevent cancer. These compounds appear to stop enzymes from activating cancer-causing agents in the body, and they increase the activity of enzymes that disable and eliminate carcinogens.
Spicing Cauliflower with Turmeric May Promote Men's Health
Prostate cancer -- the second leading cause of cancer death in American men with 500,000 new cases appearing each year -- is a rare occurrence among men in India, whose low risk is attributed to a diet rich in Brassica family vegetables and the curry spice, turmeric. Researchers believe the combination of cruciferous vegetables and curcumin could be an effective therapy not only to prevent prostate cancer, but to inhibit the spread of established prostate cancers. Best of all, this combination -- cauliflower spiced with turmeric -- is absolutely delicious!
Cauliflower Quick Facts
- Cauliflower is best when purchased from September through January, but available year round. Cauliflower should have compact flower clusters (florets or curds) with green leaves. Do not purchase if flower clusters are open. If there is a speckled surface, this is a sign of insect injury, mold or rot. Store cauliflower in the refrigerator.
- To keep cauliflower white during cooking, add lemon to the water. Overcooking tends to darken cauliflower and make it tougher.
- Due to certain chemicals in cauliflower it is best not to cook it in an aluminum or iron pot. Contact with these metals will turn the cauliflower yellow, brown or blue-green.
- When you boil cauliflower, add a piece of white bread to eliminate the odor. Another method is to replace the water after is has cooked for 5 to 7 minutes.
- Prior to cooking cauliflower, you should soak it head down for approximately 30 minutes in salted water to remove the grit and insects.
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