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Cyprus Colewarts: Cauliflower by Another Name

January 11, 2019
In addition to its more-well-know white color cauliflower also comes in hues of purple and orange.
In addition to its more-well-know white color cauliflower also comes in hues of purple and orange.

With such an unusual title to this week’s article, do you have any guesses as to what I am referring? Here are some hints. The oldest record of this edible dates back to 6th century B.C. It is native to the Mediterranean and Asia Minor, but grown in a lot of areas with moderate temperatures.

We call it a cool-season vegetable here. In England in 1586, it was referred to as Cyprus colewarts. And, it has been referred to as the “true aristocrats of the cabbage family.”

We are talking about cauliflower and we can thank Texas A&M AgriLife Extension for those interesting facts. For additional history on this plant, check out: aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/publications/vegetabletravelers/broccoli.html

The inner edible part of a cauliflower is called the curd, while the outer leaf coverings are referred to as jacket leaves. Did you know there are orange and purple varieties of cauliflower? There is even a broccoflower, which is a cross between a broccoli and a cauliflower. It has a light green color.

You can steam, saute, boil, or microwave cauliflower. You also can eat it raw. This member of the Brassica family is loaded with vitamin C and a lot of fiber. It also contains vitamin K, folate and potassium. This cruciferous vegetable may aid in the prevention of some cancers and it is available year round at your local market: files-do-not-link.udc.edu/docs/causes/online/cauliflowersm.pdf

According to the University of Delaware, cauliflower may be a beauty product. It is high in “phytochemical compounds called glucosinolates” which help in protecting our skin from free radical damage. Also, certain “derivatives of these compounds may reduce the appearance of skin aging by preventing wrinkles and increasing smoothness of skin:” sites.udel.edu/chs-udfoodlab/2016/03/11/march-cauliflower

Are you keen to grow your own? Michigan State University has a fact sheet about growing cauliflower. They tell us it is not easy to grow. They categorize it as difficult. This plant has high nutrient and water needs. The most common method of growing is with a seedling.

If you want to seed your own, it will take five to 10 days for the seeds to germinate. You will want to start these in late March or early April, then transplant to the garden four to five weeks later. Days to harvest for this plant can range from 45 to 75 days depending on the variety. For more information on growing cauliflower, including blanching the heads: canr.msu.edu/resources/how_to_grow_cauliflower

For preparation of this vegetable, there are an endless number of creative recipes online. P. Allen Smith shares some yummy recipes on his website, like using cauliflower to make pizza crust, tots, Alfredo sauce, cauliflower macaroni and cheese, and mashed cauliflower “potatoes:” pallensmith.com/2017/10/31/cauliflower-swap-5-comfort-foods

I find it quite fascinating that with a name like colewarts that it ever developed popularity in England at all. Anything with the word “warts” in it sounds quite unappetizing to me.

I’m glad we call it cauliflower, because I love eating it.

Kelley Rawlsky has an M.S. in horticulture and is the director of Bringing People and Plants Together, an organization dedicated to bringing horticulture education and therapy to the community. For more information: PeopleAndPlantsTogether @gmail.com or follow us on Facebook.

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