I love cooking with cauliflower, it has various health benefits and is such a versatile vegetable that can be used in so many recipes. In this post, we discuss everything you need to know about choosing and buying the best fresh cauliflower heads and how to store cauliflower properly at room temperature, in the fridge, and even how to freeze your cauliflower. All of this info will help you make the best cauliflower recipes and you can easily figure out the best option to store any leftovers!
- How to choose a cauliflower
- Should you wash cauliflower before storing it?
- How long does cauliflower last at room temperature?
- How long does raw cauliflower last in the fridge?
- How long does cooked cauliflower last in the fridge?
- Can you freeze cauliflower?
- How do you tell if cauliflower has gone bad?
- More produce storage tips
How to choose a cauliflower
Here are some things to look for when choosing the best quality cauliflower from the grocery store or your local farmer’s markets.
- You want a firm head of cauliflower
- You want the florets to be compact
- You still want crisp and fresh leaves
- You do NOT want any sign of yellowing or wilting
- You do NOT want cauliflower with brown spots as that's a sign of age
Should you wash cauliflower before storing it?
I do NOT recommend washing your cauliflower before storing it in the refrigerator or even keeping it at room temperature.
I know it can be hard to resist washing your fresh vegetables immediately, but it helps prolong their shelf life and keeps them fresher for longer periods of time.
Washing your cauliflower and introducing moisture to it speeds up its decay and discoloration of it. It may start showing brown spots faster if it's been washed before being stored and it will ultimately decrease the shelf life of your head of cauliflower.
However, you shouldn't forget to wash your cauliflower before you use it!
And be sure to let it dry or pat it down to remove any excess moisture before you cook it or eat it.
How long does cauliflower last at room temperature?
Uncooked cauliflower can be stored as a whole fresh cauliflower head covered loosely on the counter at room temperature for 2-3 days.
If you plan to use it later than that, the best place to keep it is in the refrigerator.
Cooked cauliflower shouldn't be left at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. If it is, you need to toss it or it will give off an unpleasant smell and start to go bad.
How long does raw cauliflower last in the fridge?
To extend the shelf life of raw cauliflower, whole heads of raw cauliflower can be kept in the refrigerator with proper storage for up to 4-7 days.
You can leave your whole head of cauliflower in the original plastic wrapping if it came wrapped up, just loosen the wrapping a bit so the cauliflower can breathe. It does best when it has a little air circulation.
Otherwise, the best way to store your raw cauliflower is in the crisper drawer of your fridge loosely wrapped in plastic wrap or in an open plastic bag so it has room to breathe, hold in the moisture it needs, and release any it doesn't through the open bag.
You can also add a damp paper towel to the bottom of your storage bag or underneath your fresh vegetables as they like to be stored in a moist, cool environment.
Be sure to change out the towels as needed.
Don't close the bag completely, this will trap all the moisture and create too much humidity.
Too much humidity means condensation will form, which means the cauliflower will get too wet, create bacteria, and start to spoil faster.
Once you've cut your raw cauliflower, you've decreased the shelf life of cauliflower and it'll only last about 4 days in the refrigerator.
How long does cooked cauliflower last in the fridge?
Cooked cauliflower can be stored in different ways depending upon your needs. The most common way is in an airtight container or some kind of sealed container. You can also store it wrapped in plastic wrap and aluminum foil.
The amount of time it'll last stays the same depending on the cooking process, it should keep for 3-5 days.
If it starts to show any signs that it's going bad, don't risk food poisoning, just throw it out.
Food for thought: Keep in mind that the time in which your cooked or raw cauliflower is good for is very dependent on a few factors...How was the cauliflower stored and how was it stored before you got it, how old the head was before you got it, and the general overall quality of the head of cauliflower.
Some of the factories are out of your control, so it's important to store what you have properly and be sure to buy the best quality of cauliflower that you can find.
Can you freeze cauliflower?
If you want to keep your cauliflower for an extended period, the best way to do this is by freezing it. '
Freezing cauliflower is very easy and is a very common practice.
Here's how I recommend you prep the cauliflower to store in freezer bags for freezing for up to 3 months.
- Prep the heads by removing the leaves and cutting them into smaller florets.
- Wash the cauliflower florets thoroughly.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil so you can blanch them for 3 minutes. You can blanch with salt if desired.
- Once you've blanched them, remove the florets from the hot water and place them in a bowl full of cold water. Let them sit there for a few minutes to halt the cooking process. Drain the cold water and dry the cauliflower pieces.
- I recommend portioning out your florets into common portion sizes that way you don't have to thaw too many for each recipe. You can put them in a freezer-safe bag or an airtight freezer safe container before labeling them and placing them back in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Alternatively, you can prep, wash, blanch, cold water bath, and dry them as you did before, then place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and place the sheet in the freezer for a few hours until all the cauliflower smaller pieces are thoroughly frozen.
Then remove the frozen cauliflower and place them into individual portion size bags so they won't all freeze together in a big clump.
How do you tell if cauliflower has gone bad?
Cauliflower that has small specks of brown is a sign that your cauliflower is aging, it still has a couple of days most likely and can still be used but its days are numbered. If your cauliflower has dark brown spots or black spots, it's time to toss it.
You don't want your cauliflower to have a funky bad smell or off smell, have any soft spots, mushy texture, dark spots, or mold spots, and you definitely don't want your cauliflower to have a slimy texture. If your vegetable has any of these signs, toss it.
Now that you know everything about picking the highest quality head of cauliflower, and storing your heads of cauliflower for as long or as short as you need, you can make sure you have nice, healthy cauliflower to enjoy all year long and have enough to make all the best vegan and vegetarian recipes!
Cauliflower is such a versatile vegetable, it can be used and hidden in so many recipes to get an extra serving of veggies in your diet too.
More produce storage tips
- How to store broccoli
- How to store spinach
- How to store carrots
- How to store potatoes
- How to store avocados
- How to store lemons
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