You love cauliflower, right? Or at least you think you should. Or maybe you’re a rebel and just can’t? We’ve been thrilled about cauliflower’s rise from reviled to revered over the past few years—we’ve always loved this previously underappreciated veg and we’re happy to see it claim the fame it deserves. From mashed to roasted, riced to raw, cauliflower is definitely having its day.
Did you know that cauliflower is in the brassica family? Otherwise known as the mustard family or cole crops? Other members of that family include broccoli, broccolette, kale, brussels sprouts, cabbage, bok choy, collards, mustards, daikon, radish, kohlrabi, rutabagas, and even turnips. And every last one of ‘em is descended from the wild cabbage. All of these veggies, in one way or another, have seen a recent surge in popularity as we come to appreciate their taste and nutrient density.\
When it comes to organic cauliflower on the farm, we plant it like we do most of our row crop veggies, on 40-inch beds. You might guess that cauliflower takes longer to grow than our little baby greens and you’d be right. Where our organic baby greens are ready for harvest in 21-45 days depending on the season and growing conditions, cauliflower takes 60-90 days to grow.
While you may consider cauliflower an essential in your kitchen (we do, too!), it’s also an essential in our organic farming program. Crop rotation is critical to maintaining soil health and growing the best crops. Cauliflower and other brassicas not only put a different demand on the soil from lettuces, but they have their own way of fumigating the soil and chasing away certain pests. You know what any of these veggies smell like when they rot or even just get hot? Well the pests don’t like that smell either.
Still, farming organic cauliflower has its challenges. First of all, there’s dealing with the pest pressure of a longer growing crop. Second, there’s something you’ve probably never dreamed of: keeping the cauliflower head a desirable shade of white. Conventionally grown cauliflower, fed by fast-acting fertilizers, has very large wrapper leaves that shade the head and protect it from the sun, which is what turns the nice white cauliflower yellow-ish. The leaves on organic cauliflower plants tend to be smaller, so farmers had to tie the leaves together by hand to shade the head. That’s a lot of work!
But necessity is the mother of invention! Now, we use what is essentially a giant sewing machine attached to a tractor that moves down the rows and sews the leaves together. You can see it in action in our Field Tour video, starting at 4:18. Oh, heck, just watch the whole thing. It’s pretty interesting.
When it’s time for harvest, the cauliflower is cut by hand with the experienced eyes of our harvesters, ensuring top quality. It’s then wrapped to protect the delicate florets and boxed right in the field. Shortly thereafter, it finds its way to your local store and on to your table.
Has all this cauliflower talk got you craving some?
- Try our Riced Cauliflower Burrito Bowls with Chicken (it comes together so easily when you used our packaged, riced cauliflower).
- Get your kids hooked on brassicas with these Baked Broccoli Cauliflower Veggies Tots, served with a creamy chive dip.
- Try your hand at the ever-trendy (and tasty) cauliflower pizza crust trend with this recipe, or make a more classic recipe, such as this Roasted Cauliflower Tart, and bring it to your next potluck.
- This Creamy Cauliflower Risotto with arugula pesto and crispy prosciutto is also a crowd pleaser.
No matter which recipe you land on, you can’t go wrong when you start with our organically grown vegetables. Next time you dig in, just say a little thank you to our cauliflower farmers and harvesters!