While there are many different cultivars of white cauliflower, they are all marketed simply under the name “cauliflower.”
Cauliflower also comes in many different shades, including orange, green, and purple. These varieties are beginning to pop up in supermarkets, and are readily available at farmers markets. They include:
- Broccoflower: This genetic cross combines the physical features of cauliflower with the chlorophyll of broccoli, but tastes more like cauliflower than broccoli. With heads ranging from yellow-green to lime-green, broccoflower has a sweeter taste than conventional cauliflower.
- Purple cauliflower: This purple-headed cauliflower turns green when cooked.
How to choose the best cauliflower
Select clean, firm, compact heads of cauliflower that are white or creamy-white. A medium-sized head is 6 inches in diameter and weighs about 2 pounds, enough to serve four to six people after trimming off the leaves and stem. Avoid heads that are soft, have brown coloring or small dark spots on the curds.
The size of the cauliflower head doesn’t affect its quality. Any leaves that remain should be green and crisp. Small leaves growing between the florets are not a sign of poor quality; just pull them out before you cook the cauliflower. Some stores also sell packaged florets that have been trimmed off the head. These too should be free of bruises or spots.
For broccoflower, look for yellowish-green or pale-green heads that are firm with no space between the curds. The leaves should be fresh and green. As with regular cauliflower, there is no quality difference between large and small heads.