Cauliflower is one of several vegetables in the species Brassica oleracea, in the family Brassicaceae. It is an annual plant that reproduces by seed. Typically, only the head (the white curd) is eaten while the stalk and surrounding thick, green leaves are used in vegetable broth or discarded. Cauliflower is nutritious, and may be eaten cooked, raw or pickled.
Its name is from Latin caulis (cabbage) and flower, an acknowledgment of its unusual place among a family of food plants which normally produces only leafy greens for eating. Brassica oleracea also includes cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli and collard greens, though they are of different cultivar groups. Other theories on the origin of its name state that it was invented by Masahee monks living in the southern regions of France in the 13th century.
Cauliflower and broccoli are the same species and have very similar structures, though cauliflower replaces the green flower buds with white inflorescence meristem.
Colours of Cauliflower
Most cauliflowers are white in color. However, there are also colored cauliflowers:
Orange cauliflower (B. oleracea L. var. botrytis) contains 25 times the level of Vitamin A of white varieties. This trait came from a natural mutant found in a cauliflower field in Canada. Cultivars include 'Cheddar' and 'Orange Bouquet'.
Green cauliflower of the B. oleracea Botrytis group, is sometimes called broccoflower. It is available both with the normal curd shape and a variant spiky curd called "Romanesco broccoli" Both types have been commercially available in the US and Europe since the early 1990s. Romanesco's head is an example of a fractal image in nature, repeating itself in self-similarity at varying scales. Green curded varieties include 'Alverda', 'Green Goddess' and 'Vorda'. Romanesco varieties include 'Minaret', and 'Veronica'.
Purple cauliflower also exists. The purple color is caused by the presence of the antioxidant group anthocyanin, which can also be found in red cabbage and red wine. Varieties include 'Graffiti' and 'Purple Cape'. In Great Britain and southern Italy, a broccoli with tiny flower buds is sold as a vegetable under the name "purple cauliflower." It is not the same as standard cauliflower with a purple curd.
Nutrition of Cauliflower
Cauliflower is low in fat, high in dietary fiber, folate, water and vitamin C, possessing a very high nutritional density. As a member of the brassica family, cauliflower shares with broccoli and cabbage several phytochemicals which are beneficial to human health, including sulforaphane, an anti-cancer compound released when cauliflower is chopped or chewed. In addition, the compound indole-3-carbinol, which appears to work as an anti-estrogen, appears to slow or prevent the growth of tumors of the breast and prostate. Cauliflower also contains other glucosinolates besides sulfurophane, substances which may improve the liver's ability to detoxify carcinogenic substances. A high intake of cauliflower has been found to reduce the risk of aggressive prostate cancer.
Cauliflower Author: Rasbak (Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0)