Worried about whether the cauliflower you bought has gone bad and now you have to throw it out? We got some advice for you on when to save and when to toss. We also include a section on the super popular cauliflower rice.
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No one likes to waste food.
It sucks when you get something at the grocery store and it never ends up on your dinner table.
Actually knowing when something is bad isn't always easy. Sometime it's a borderline situation.
I want to help you today by talking about one vegetable in particular that you may be wondering about - cauliflower.
Keep in mind these are my best recommendations, it's up to you to make the final call. If you don't feel comfortable with saving something then I would rather you error on the side of caution.
🦨 Smells Bad
Your nose is usually a good guide. When cauliflower goes bad, you certainly can smell it. If you are buying packaged cauliflower that is already cut, diced, or riced. then it's more likely to have some smell to it.
If you find the smell to be overwhelming then I would recommend you toss it.
Recommendation - Toss if it is a really strong smell
🟤 Brown Spots
This is problem is the most common issue with cauliflower. Most of the time the spots are just caused by oxidation. Just like if you cut an apple open and it gets exposed to air and turns brown. The apple is still ok to eat, it just doesn't look great.
Same with the cauliflower.
You can cut off the spots if you want, they are just on the outside.
Recommendation - Keep, can still be great roasted. I wouldn't serve raw as that can be off putting to your guests.
🛏️ Soft Spots
Soft spots are another story. This means the cauliflower is starting to break down. Most of the time this happens if too much moisture is present. Most cauliflower comes wrapped in plastic which is great for shipping but not the best in our refrigerators.
If the plastic is wrapped tightly I would poke some holes so that some moisture can escape. Or re-wrap in plastic and let it be more loosely wrapped.
While I haven't tried this yet myself, you could try the many reusable produce bags available on the market.
Recommendation - Keep! If it's just mushy cut off the soft spots or use it for soup or a puree.
The next step up from soft spots is slimy. Only when my kids are making homemade slime do I want to have slimy things in my house.
However if you aren't seeing mold I don't have a problem with cutting off the slimy area.
Recommendation - Keep, cut off the slimy part, including an extra inch or so.
🍄 Fuzzy Mold
Mold can be great when cheese is involved. Vegetables, not so much.
With mold I would error on the side of caution and toss it all out if the cauliflower was really tightly wrapped. I might cut of a good portion of it if I wasn't in sealed in plastic. In most cases, it's time to get a new head of cauliflower.
Recommendation - Toss!
📅 How Long Does Cauliflower Last?
Cauliflower is one of the better storing fresh veggies. Broccoli will usually go bad a lot quicker than cauliflower. I have had cauliflower in my fridge for 2-3 weeks and it was still edible.
If you leave it out it won't last quite as long, maybe 2-4 days. If you are limited on fridge space you can leave it out when you bring it home from the store, especially if you are going to cook it in the next day or two.
🍃 Can You Use the Stems & Leaves?
Most cauliflower comes with the leaves already cut off mostly unless you are buying jacket cauliflower which has much of the leaves still attached.
The leaves of cauliflower can be tough. But that doesn't mean you can't eat them. I would say they aren't tender enough to be enjoyed raw. You can however cook them like you would collard greens which are related to cauliflower. I have even heard of people roasting them.
Here is how I like to use the leaves and stems.
I like to use the stems and leaves for different purposes. Remove as much stem as I can and then remove the leaves from the stems. Chop both up.
I use the leaves to add a little green to Ramen or soup, like this
And take the stems and steam them like you would broccoli stems. They pretty much taste the same. Recipe below.
🍚 How to Tell if Cauliflower Rice is Bad
Cauliflower rice has become hugely popular in the last several years. It's just cauliflower that has been broken down in pieces more like the size of rice. Follow the small rules as a head cauliflower to tell if it's bad or not. The first thing that you will notice is a bad smell. It also can get mushy, which is not very good eats.
It tends to be more perishable than a head of cauliflower. If you bring some home from the store fresh, you should try to eat it within a couple days for best quality. And you want to finish leftovers in that amount of time too.
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💡 More Tips on When Veggies Go Bad
- When is Asparagus Bad?
- Can You Eat Broccoli That Turned Yellow?
- Can You Eat Wrinkled Peppers?
- Kale That Has Gone Yellow
- How to Tell if Potatoes are Bad
Steamed Cauliflower Stems
- stems of cauliflower
- kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- Remove all the stem you can from a head of cauliflower
- Remove the leaves portion of the stems. Save them for adding to soup or adding them to the stems at the end.
- Cut the stems into small, bite sized pieces.
- Place the stems in a saute or fry pan with just enough water to come about half way up the stems.
- Bring to a boil.
- Cover with a lid and reduce to a simmer.
- Cook for 3-5 minutes or until the stems are tender
- Season with salt and pepper to taste