The name 'Cauliflower' means Cabbage Flower.

Cauliflower originated over 2,000 years ago in gardens of Asia Minor and the Mediterranean. By the 16th Century, it was eaten throughout Western Europe. Cauliflower has been important vegetable in the United States since 1920. Almost all cauliflower grown in the United States comes from the Salinas Valley of California.. Arizona, New York, Michigan, Oregon, Florida, Washington and Texas also grow some cauliflower.

Cauliflower plants are usually started in a greenhouse from seeds. After 35 days the young plants are transplanted to the field. The cauliflower plant requires rich fertile soil, good moisture and cool temperatures to grow. After being transplanted to the field, the cauliflower plant grows for another 80 to 110 days.

As the plant grows, a flower bud forms in the center of the plant. It is very important to protect the developing cauliflower from the sun while it grows. Workers fold the large outer leaves of the plant over the head of cauliflower (its like creating a tent with leaves) to protect it from the sunlight. This prevents the cauliflower from turning yellow .

Harvesting a field of cauliflower is a long process and can take up to 3 weeks. Workers must make 5 to 6 passes through the entire field, each time checking to see if the head of cauliflower is ready to harvest. In the field, the leaves are trimmed away and the cauliflower is packed carefully to prevent bruising. Cauliflower is very delicate and bruises easily.

Cauliflower is available year-round, but especially plentiful in the Spring and Fall. When buying cauliflower, select one that is white or creamy white in color, firm, and heavy. Cauliflower may be stored for up to one week in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Keep it dry. Don wash it until you are ready to eat it. Any brownish colored bruises may be trimmed away before cooking.

Green Cauliflowers are a hybrid of Broccoli and Cauliflower that was developed in the 1980s. Green Cauliflower has the physical appearance of cauliflower and the chlorophyll (green pigment ) of broccoli.

See also Cauliflower Nutrition and Growing information.