Common Name: Cauliflower (Brassica Oleracea)
Seed Saving Level: Advanced, may cross with other B. Oleracea members, including cabbage, broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, kohlrabi. Produces seeds during second growing season.
Planting: Cauliflower is a frost-tolerant biennial that enjoys full sun. Sow directly ½ inch deep. Germinates in 5-7 days.
Harvesting: When grown for seed, cauliflower heads should not be harvested for food. They must remain intact. Otherwise, harvest when heads are compact, white, and firm with tightly clustered florets and bright green leaves.
Seed Saving: Cauliflower requires a cool period before plants will flower. The fruits on a cauliflower plant are pods called siliques, which ripen from bottom up. Wait until most of the pods turn light brown. They will scatter when dry so watch carefully. Pull entire plant and hang upside down in a bag to catch seeds or lay on a sheet to dry. Cover with another sheet and lightly trample with feet to release seeds. Winnow to remove chafe.
Sources: Complete Guide to Saving Seeds (2011) by Robert Gough and Cheryl Moore-Gough, Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners (2002) by Suzanne Ashworth.
Books and ebooks:
- Mr. Wilkinson's Spring and Summer Vegetables
- The Trouble With Cauliflower
- The Mini Farming Guide to Vegetable Gardening
Recipe: Creamy Cauliflower Gratin
- 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 medium head cauliflower, cored and coarsely chopped (~5 cups)
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 ½ tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup shredded Gruyere or Fontina Cheese (2 to 3 oz)
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 small shallots, thinly sliced (optional)
- ⅔ cup sliced almonds, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 375̊ F. Oil or butter a 12 by 8-inch baking dish. In a saucepan, combine the broth and cauliflower over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, until completely tender. Drain the cauliflower well in a colander and return it to the pot. Add the yogurt, mustard, salt, and pepper to the cauliflower and coarsely smash the mixture with potato masher or fork. (For a smoother puree, use a handheld mixer.)
Transfer the mashed cauliflower to the prepared baking dish. Scatter the cheese and shallots evenly over the cauliflower. (You can prepare the dish to this point up to a day ahead. Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake, then add 1 to 15 min to the baking time.) Sprinkle the nuts evenly on top. Bake the gratin for about 25 minutes until the top is golden. Serve hot.
Source: Brassicas: Cooking the World’s Healthiest Vegetables (2014) by Laura B. Russell.