Cauliflower may be grown, harvested, and sold year-round, but it is by nature a cool weather crop. Sunshine and heat bring out bitter flavors in the undeveloped flower buds that make up the tightly packed florets in a head of cauliflower, whereas chill and frost bring out its sweeter side.
Cauliflower is at its best in fall and winter and into early spring.
Look for white or cream-colored heads that feel heavy for their size. The deeply ribbed green leaves that envelop a head of cauliflower should look fresh, not wilted or yellowing or dry.
You may also find Italian purple cauliflower or golden cauliflower heads and green "broccoflower" at some markets. These are fun alternatives (particularly for vegetable platters) and can be used just like the more common white cauliflower.
Keep cauliflower loosely wrapped in plastic in the fridge. Fresh from the market heads will last up to 2 weeks.
You can cut cauliflower into florets and stored them, sealed, in a plastic bag in the fridge. They will last up to a week in a well-regulated refrigerator.
Cauliflower has a lightly sweet, nutty flavor when properly cooked. Raw cauliflower can have a pretty sharp bite, but when combined with creamy dips can be a great addition to a raw vegetable or crudite platter.
Cauliflower can be roasted, steamed, sauteed, or fried. Find delicious cauliflower recipes here.
Despite the fact that it fairs well in cool weather, cauliflower requires full sun when it's growing - at least 6 hours' worth. Find specifics (including tips on keeping cauliflower a stunning white as it grows) over at Organic Gardening.