My Cauliflower is Turning Pink

My cauliflower plants have grown from tiny seedlings to large plants with almost mature heads of delicious edible flowers. I’ve been watching and waiting for one to be ready to come into my kitchen. So imagine my surprise when I went to my tiny garden yesterday and found this:

Cauliflower Turning Pink - mlm c

The photo above was taken late in the afternoon using a flash, so the leaf colors may look a bit strange. The photo below, of a much younger plant, was taken in full sun, showing off the beautiful true green color. Notice thatI had to hold the leaves back in order to see the head. As the plants grow larger, the lowest leaves wither and fall away, while the uppermost ones open to expose the flower but, at this early stage, the leaves are tightly closed around the baby flower head.
Baby Caulliflower - mlm c

After finding that purplish-pink tint on my cauliflower, I did a bit of research, and learned that it is caused by the heads being exposed to the sun when the leaves begin to open. I learned that the upper leaves should be tied closed over the heads to shield them from the sun. It seemed to me that the leaves would slip out of any string or cord I could use, so I gathered the leaves around the heads, folded the largest ones over the tips of the others, and secured them with clothes pins. In the photo below, you can see a few of them with clothes pins clipped at the top. I think I may go ahead and clip off those lower leaves. They will make great compost. Here you can see a few brown leaves that I have clipped off and just dropped on the ground. That is really good for nourishing the garden soil, but it doesn’t make for pretty photos. Guess I’d better rake them away next time, huh?

Cauliflower with Clothes Pins - mlm c

I may go ahead and cut a couple of these guys, because I have snow pea seedlings that need to begin climbing the obelisk at the center of the garden.

Do you like cauliflower?  We have three favorite ways to eat it:

  1. Raw, dipped in light ranch dressing
  2. Steamed with just a bit of butter, salt, and pepper.
  3. Creamed, just as you would make creamed (mashed) potatoes. Some people call this South Beach potatoes.

I have learned that the pink tint may cause the cauliflower to have a bitter taste. I found nothing to indicate that it causes the vegetable to be harmful. Next time, I will know to keep the heads shielded from the sun.

UPDATE:  As it turned out, I injured my ankle, 2 days after publishing this blog post, so I did very little gardening for several months.  At the time, the cauliflower heads seemed small to me, so I was content to ignore them for a couple of weeks while nursing that ankle. When I was able to check on them, they had bolted; i.e., gone to seed. So I composted them. I guess I’ll have to try again later.

6 responses to “My Cauliflower is Turning Pink

  1. We like cauliflower any way we cook it, as long as it’s not overcooked, although roasted may be our favorite. I almost always have a head in the fridge. So I’m wondering. Did the cauliflower turn pink because it’s sunburned? I hunted around a bit, but didn’t learn anything about the chemical reaction, or whether it might be more or less nutritious because of the change.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Clothes pegs are a nice idea. I am wondering about the taste.


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