Monday, 12 February 2018

Frozen cauliflower

Like many keen vegetable growers we look to preserve summer surfeits for winter time consumption. One of the common ways of preservation is, of course, freezing. With experience you learn which vegetables freeze well, whether they benefit from blanching first or not, and which ones are not worth the bother at all. 

I was a little sceptical about the success of freezing cauliflower, afraid that it would turn to mush once de-frosted. We hadn’t tried this before because I’ve found cauliflower a tricky vegetable to grow well, but last summer I had some outstanding results. The cauliflowers I grew developed tight, firm, white hearts. 

The variety is 'White Excel'

Unfortunately, cauliflowers can’t be left long in the ground once mature unlike, say, cabbage. They have to be picked as soon as they are ready because they go over more or less the next day. With several ripening at the same time there was an unavoidable glut. I grew two sowings of cauliflower during the summer so we had plenty of fresh cauliflower to enjoy but clearly did not want to waste any surplus. Although I’m happy to throw as many courgettes, chard and other easy to grow, prolific vegetables to the pigs I thought prize-worthy cauliflowers would be too profligate.

Here's what we did with our cauliflowers. They were broken down into neat florets and dropped into boiling water for about 30 seconds. After being left to drain and cool down they were spread out on a baking tray and, when frozen, bagged up.

We found that the florets remained individually separate. We take out a meal-full when needed. They only need to be boiled for a short period before they are ready. They retain their shape and firmness and also their flavour (not all frozen vegetables do). I was both impressed and not a little surprised. I’ll be doing the same again this year if the cauliflowers reach the same standard.

We have not yet tried our more usual cooking method of stir frying our own frozen cauliflower florets yet. Cauliflower is an excellent vegetable to stir fry, by the way, as they absorb the flavours of oyster sauce and soy sauce very effectively. This method also preserves a crunch which is easily lost unless you remain vigilant when boiling them. 

For those who find plain boiled cauliflower somewhat bland then I’d recommend stir frying. If you don’t like cauliflower under any circumstances then don’t grow them or, if you do, feel at liberty to give them to the pigs.


  1. Your cauliflowers are a credit to you. Talking from my own experience, cauliflowers are the most difficult vegetable to grow. We have bent the leaf to stop the florets turning yellow. One year we went away on holiday and the weeds covered our cauliflowers. Unbelievably the weeds had protected the cauliflowers from the sun and nasty snails and slugs. Any cauliflower growing tips please?

  2. Its been a bit hit and miss for me too Dave. I don’t have a big problem with slugs and snails. I cover the cauliflowers, as with all brassicas I grow, with cloches made with scaffolding netting to protect them from pigeons. This might filter out scorching sunlight. I irrigate during dry periods and I don’t think cauliflowers tolerate dry conditions as well as cabbages. Uninterrupted growth is important to prevent bolting.

  3. Very impressed with your success with cauliflower. Happy Chinese New Year!