Cauliflower, in one sense, cannot be considered seasonal as it so rarely out of season - farmers and skilful gardeners juggling winter and summer types so that there is a near continual overlap of creamy curds. However, this is the start of the summer season, when a new crop is ready to harvest, fresh and crunch. It is also worth venerating the cauliflower right now for being one of the few vegetables to forge on through the ‘hungry gap’ - that spell when allotments find they have used up all of their stored winter produce, but new crops are still a way off.
Supermarket like their cauliflowers white as white, so you may pick up some creamier coloured ones cheap from the greengrocer or farmers’ market. There is nothing wrong with them: as long as they are clean and firm, they’ll be fine.
Romanescos are beautiful Fibonacci style green cauliflowers that make glorious pickles. The height of their season, along with purple-headed coulis, is autumn, but you can still come across them now. If you do, snack them up - and take to the kitchen!
Growing your own
Cauliflowers are not the easiest crops to get right, so all the more satisfying when you can crack them. Now is a good time to buy and plant out small cauliflower plants ( you will find white, purple and romanesco types at www.organicplants.co.uk) Give them plenty of space and plant out firmly into rich soil, then top with a cage covered in netting, to keep the cabbage white butterflies and the pigeons away. Water well all summer.
Three to try:
‘Graffiti’”: A deep purple headed cauliflower to plant now, which looks beautiful used raw in salads. Good resistance to bolting (prematurely running to seed).
Romanesco “Veronica”: Beautiful lime-green twirled florets. Plant out now or in June.
“Chester”: A classic, white-headed cauliflower with good vigour. Plant later in summer for crops in May next year.