Cauliflower is one of the most versatile veggies, showing up in soups, stir fries, and other healthy side dishes. It's also ideal as a replacement for meat or carbs, from buffalo cauliflower wings to cauliflower pizza crust. However, like many vegetables, cauliflower often goes bad before you remember to use it. Here's how to store cauliflower to enjoy this healthy, delicious veggie for as long as possible.
How to Buy the Freshest Cauliflower
The first way to ensure that your cauliflower stays good for as long as possible is to buy it when it's fresh. When grocery shopping at the farmers' market or grocery store, try to find heads that are compact, with tightly closed clusters. If the florets are loose and crumbling, they're likely on their way out.
It's helpful to pay attention to the color as well, looking for cauliflower that's all white, with no brown spots or discoloration. The leaves should be green and fresh, rather than wilting or browning. Whole heads stay good longer, so it's best to choose these rather than pre-cut cauliflower, unless you're using it in the next couple of days.
How to Store Cauliflower in the Fridge
Whether you plan to make cauliflower rice, roasted cauliflower, or cauliflower soup, you'll likely be storing it in the fridge. Because fresh cauliflower needs air flow, it should be kept in a loosely closed plastic bag in the refrigerator. Don't fully close the bag or shut the cauliflower in an airtight container. If the cauliflower is in plastic wrap, loosen the knot or poke a few holes in the plastic.
The crisper drawer is a great place for this versatile veggie since it allows for airflow. When storing the cauliflower, place it stem-up so that condensation doesn't collect on the florets to extend its shelf life even further. Don't wash this veggie before storing it, since moisture can cause decay, but make sure to wash it before using it. If stored properly, cauliflower should last 3-5 days in the refrigerator.
How to Store Cauliflower in the Freezer
If you bought too much cauliflower or have realized that you won't get around to using it before it goes bad, not to worry, it'll stay good in the freezer for 10-12 months. To freeze cauliflower, you'll need to do a few extra steps.
Rather than just popping the whole head in the freezer, cut the cauliflower into florets as if you were planning on using it immediately. Then, blanch it for three minutes in boiling water, immediately transferring it to an ice water bath after boiling it. This short cooking process kills bacteria, maintains the nutrient content and allows the veggie to stay firm and flavorful in the freezer.
Drain the cauliflower florets, and then put them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Then, place the florets in freezer bags and fully close the bags. Your frozen cauliflower florets will last for up to a year, to be taken out and thawed whenever you have a hankering for them.
How to Pickle Cauliflower
Along with storing cauliflower in the fridge or freezer, you can pickle it to keep it good for even longer. To pickle it, you'll place florets of cauliflower in mason jars. Then, boil vinegar, water, and any flavorings you like like garlic, peppercorns or salt. You'll then pour the mixture into the jars, closing them tightly and letting them sit for at least 24 hours. This cauliflower will stay good for years! Get a recipe for pickled cauliflower at Home Made Interest.
If you're ready to use your cauliflower right away or you're hoping to take it out of the freezer for a tasty meal, here are 15 delectable cauliflower recipes.
READ MORE: Are You Ready for Cauliflower Pizza Crust?
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