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Cauliflower is a vegetable belonging to the mustard family (Family Brassicaceae or Cruciferae). Its scientific name is Brassica oleracea var. botrytis.

Cauliflower is a source of nutritional vitamins and minerals. Cauliflower is most commonly eaten cooked, but it may also be eaten raw or pickled, and is often sold in that form commercially with pickled onions and pickles (pickled cucumbers).

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, cauliflower provides 94% of Vitamin C for a PDV based on a 2000 calorie diet. It is also an important source of protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc, and a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, and potassium. This food is low in saturated fat grams, and very low in cholesterol (values under the gram).

In March 2003, Britain's Department for International Development released a study showing that cauliflower in India had high concentrations of heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and zinc, far exceeding those permissible under Indian law. On September 23, 2002, a 17-year-old boy died after eating a small cauliflower he plucked from a field. It is believed that his death was due to pesticides that were sprayed on the cauliflower, and not the cauliflower itself.

Only the head of the cauliflower is eaten, a part known as the white curd. This is a thickly clustered part of the plant that consists of a stalk of flower buds. This stalk is surrounded at the base by thick, green leaves.

Table of contents
1 Harvesting the vegetable

Harvesting the vegetable

The delicate process

As soon as the head appears, gardeners tie the plant's leaves over the head in order to blanch it, a process allowing it to stay white. They must harvest the plant once it has reached what they presume to be its full size and ripeness, but they are careful not to wait too long, or else it will flower.

The vegetable requires a cool, moist climate. If temperatures go too high, the plants will not produce flower heads. If too low a temperature is reached, the plants might button, creating small heads.

Where it is grown

Most of the vegetable produced in the United States comes from the state of California.

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