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The Many Colors of Cauliflower

by Erica Ilton, RDN, CDN  

White cauliflower is by far the predominant type of this cruciferous vegetable, but purple, orange, and green varieties also exist.

  • White cauliflower. In order to prevent the sun from turning white cauliflower yellow, farmers sometimes tie the biggest leaves over the head (also known as the “curd”) when it reaches the size of a tennis ball. Note that cooking white cauliflower in aluminum will cause it to turn yellow, while cooking it in cast iron results in a brown or blue-green color.
  • Purple cauliflower. This may be referred to as Sicilian Violet, Violet Queen, or Graffiti Cauliflower. Anthocyanin, the phytochemical responsible for purple cauliflower’s vibrant hue, is also found in other red, blue, or purple fruits and vegetables, as well as red wine.
  • Orange cauliflower. Also called Cheddar Cauliflower or Orange Bouquet Cauliflower, this type of cauliflower owes its color to a genetic mutation that allows it to hold more beta carotene than its white counterpart.
  • Green cauliflower (broccoflower). This is a hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower. There are two variants, one shaped like regular cauliflower, the other (Romanesco) with pointed, conical spiraling clusters of florets. Green cauliflower contains more beta carotene than white cauliflower, but less than broccoli.