How to harvest cauliflower? Cauliflower is ready to be harvested 70 to 90 days after sowing.
Plant cauliflower for harvest in the cooler part of the year. The best growing temperature for cauliflower is above 60°F (15°C).
Sow cauliflower in early spring to harvest before the summer heat, or plant in late summer for a fall harvest. In mild winter areas, plant in the fall for a spring harvest.
WHEN TO HARVEST CAULIFLOWER
It can take anywhere from 85 to 130 days from the date of germination for brassicas to be ready for harvest, so be sure to make a note of that date in your gardening notebook.
Of course, the length of time depends on the variety you are growing, where you are located, and the growing conditions of the season.
But in general, you can expect to be ready to harvest about three to five months after the seeds sprout.
Pay attention to the size of the flower head. When it is about three inches wide, you may need to tie the leaves above the head to protect the head from direct sunlight.
Turning white helps preserve the color and flavor of the vegetable, as too much sunlight can turn it yellow or brown and create a bitter taste.
However, if you are growing a self-white variety like ‘Snowball’, the leaves will naturally curl inward above the head as the weather cools.
SIGNS OF READINESS
The last thing you want is to let the plants grow. Cauliflower blossoms are bitter when they bloom, while broccoli florets taste pretty good when they bloom.
So, what are the visible signs of readiness to harvest?
Head size is a major indicator. Note the desired mature head size of any variety you are growing and make sure you have a ruler or tape measure.
Check the size of the head every few days as it develops.
Also, if the curds seem to have a rough texture, they are starting to flower and should be harvested immediately regardless of size.
HARVESTING AND PRESERVATION
Harvesting is quick and easy. All you need is a sharp kitchen knife!
Grasp the stem tightly by about two to three inches at the head of the pole and cut it cleanly.
Here’s all of it!
Unlike cauliflower, this brassica does not usually grow lateral buds, so now is also a good time to harvest the leaves by cutting them off the central stem.
Bring the leaves and stems inside, store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, and consume them within three to five days.
You will want to wipe off any debris from the heads and avoid washing them or removing any leaves that are still attached. Wrap it in a wet paper towel and store it in a breathable pouch with holes or two or more.
Keep it in a crisper in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Cauliflower is also one of the vegetables that are easy to freeze.
To prepare it for freezing, wash each head thoroughly and cut it into quarters. Tease all the florets.
Take a large pot of water and bring it to a boil, then place the florets in it to scald them for just 60 seconds. Transfer the florets to an ice bath until cool, then pour them into a colander or paper towel. Wipe off any excess water with a towel.
Spread the dried florets in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze them for two hours, then place them in labeled freezer bags and store them for up to a year.
By boiling them quickly (that is, turning them white, unlike the varieties you make in the garden), you preserve their texture and flavor for soups or even smoothies that you’ll put in later.
And yes, it tastes amazing in smoothies. Its sister broccoli does not. I learned the (very) hard way.