How to Store Cauliflower So It Doesn't Turn Brown
Some tips on picking, storing, and freezing cauliflower
Cauliflower might not be an obvious choice for breakfast, but this versatile vegetable is actually a perfect addition to any morning meal—especially in September, when it's in season. Whether you're making potato-free cauliflower hash browns or craving cheesy cauliflower grits, you want to make sure that cauliflower is fresh. Otherwise, your purees will get gummy and your florets will be limp and sad, and the whole vegetable will look sad and brown. So how do you store cauliflower so it stays fresh for as long as possible and doesn't turn brown?
It turns out that cauliflower is way more delicate than it looks, and ideally, you want to buy a full head of cauliflower rather than a plastic bag of pre-cut florets. When you're buying cauliflower, you want to pick a head that's "firm and tightly closed," write the editors at the Los Angeles Times. "Reject any heads that show signs of softness, that's the start of spoilage." You also want to make sure the white cauliflowers haven't started to brown, because if they're already changing color, you've lost the battle.
Once you get the cauliflower home, all you have to do is put the head of cauliflower in a perforated or open plastic bag and pop it in the crisper drawer of your fridge. (If the cauliflower came already wrapped in plastic, you can put that in the fridge without unwrapping.) "Keep the head stem-side up to prevent moisture from collecting on it," and thereby causing this unwanted browning, note the folks at Sweetwater Organic Farm in Tampa, FL, adding, "Precut florets do not keep well, and they are best when eaten within a day of purchase."
If you did make a mistake with your cauliflower, or you maybe bought florets that started to wilt before you had a chance to use them, you can revive wilted cauliflower with some cold water. According to the editors of Cook's Illustrated, all you have to do is "trim their stalks or stems on the bias and stand them up in a container of cold water in the refrigerator for about an hour. This exposes as many of their moisture-wicking capillaries as possible to water," which will, in turn, perk the cauliflower back up.
You can also freeze cauliflower if you're not going to use the whole vegetable in a week. Freezing cauliflower florets is easy; the best way to do it, according to Laurie Messing, a food science and nutrition instructor at Michigan State University's Extension School, is to lay out the florets on cooking sheets, place in freezer, and once they're ice cold, put them in plastic bags back in the freezer for later. They'll be good for up to a year, and ready to enjoy for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.