Does Cauliflower Go Bad? Shelf Life, Storage, Prevention

Cauliflower is plentiful all year round. These vegetables can be bought at grocery stores or grown in the garden. Cauliflower is very versatile in the kitchen. They can be eaten raw or cooked. Some of the food you can use this vegetable in is soups, stir-fry, salads, pasta, and grilling.

Like any other vegetable, cauliflower tends to go bad quickly once harvested. Therefore, it’s important that you know how long they last, how to store them properly, and when to tell when they go bad.

Can Cauliflower Go Bad?

Yes, cauliflower can go bad due to many factors. Some of the things that affect their shelf life are storage temperature, where it’s stored, and when it was harvested.

This vegetable is highly perishable due to them having high water content. They will usually last for a couple of days at room temperature, 1-2 weeks in the fridge, and up to 1 year in the freezer.

Like any other vegetable, in order to keep cauliflower fresh longer, they have to be handled and stored properly.

How Long Does Cauliflower Last?

At room temperature, fresh cauliflower will last for about 2 to 4 days. Cauliflowers stored at room temperature should be used within that time frame. Leaving them outside, especially if the air temperature is really hot, will cause the vegetables to go bad quickly. If you know that you’ll not be going to use or cook the cauliflowers within 4 days, place them into the refrigerator.

In the refrigerator, fresh cauliflower will last for 1 to 2 weeks. The cold temperature will help keep the vegetable from going bad quickly. It’s best to store them in

In the freezer, cauliflower will last for about 8 to 12 months. This is the best place to keep cauliflower if you’re planning to store them for a long time. Simply putting cauliflower in a freezer bag and freezing it will keep them fresh for a long time. The longest that they’ll stay fresh will be about a month or so. After that, it will start to lose its texture, flavor, and nutrition due to freezer burn.

To keep fresh for up to 1 year, you’ll need to blanch them first. By blanching cauliflower beforehand, it will help preserve their flavor, texture, and nutrition.

Above is just an estimate of their shelf life. Of course, where it’s stored and the temperature of where it’s stored, play a vital role.

For a more in-depth article: How long does cauliflower last

How To Tell When Cauliflower Go Bad

Like any other vegetables, when cauliflowers go bad, they will show signs of spoilage. Cauliflowers tend to go bad slowly, which will give you time to salvage them before they reach their prime.

Below are some of the signs to look out for when cauliflowers go bad:

Bacteria Growth – Spoiled cauliflowers will start to have bacteria growing on them. This is usually mold or large brown or black areas on the head of the cauliflowers.

If there is just a small section of mold growth, you can simply cut away the bad area and use the rest.

Some cauliflowers will have minor blemishes and imperfections on them. This is normal and will not be an issue for them.

Texture – Fresh cauliflower will have a firm texture all around. When the cauliflower turns soft, it means that it’s starting to go bad. If there are soft spots at only a couple of places on the vegetables, simply cut the bad area away and keep the rest.

However, if the entire cauliflower is soft and has a slimy texture, which will usually be accompanied by molds, it’s best to throw them away.

Smell – If the cauliflowers smell off or have a smell that you’re not familiar with, it’s best to not use them. When the vegetables start to smell, that’s a sign that it has reached their prime.

Cooked Cauliflower Going Bad

When it comes to cooked cauliflower, the most noticeable sign is mold. This is due to the high content of water once it’s cooked.

Cooked cauliflower, whether it is stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator will go bad if it’s exposed to bacteria.

It’s very important once the cauliflower is cooked that it does not sit at room temperature for too long or left on the stove without any covering.

Cooked cauliflower will last up to a week in the refrigerator. However, if it’s exposed to bacteria while it’s sitting in the kitchen, it will go bad within a day or so when in the refrigerator.

How To Store Cauliflower?

When it comes to storing cauliflowers, the steps are similar to those for broccoli.

The best place to store them is in the fridge. The cool temperature will help preserve the quality of the cauliflowers.

However, cauliflowers can be stored at room temperature as well. If you’re planning to leave them outside the fridge, they should be stored away from direct sunlight and other heat sources.

The most suitable place to store cauliflowers is in the pantry. Storing them in the pantry will keep them fresh for a couple of days. After that, the quality will start to deteriorate quickly.

If you know the cauliflowers aren’t going to be used within 2-3 days, you should store them in the refrigerator.

In the fridge, you can either store them in the crisper section or on the shelf.

Cauliflower is best kept in a cold and moist environment. While the fridge provides the correct temperature, it doesn’t provide the right humidity.

To fix the issue, you should store cauliflower in a vented plastic bag. The bag will keep the moisture in, while the vented holes will allow excess moisture to escape.

Can You Freeze Cauliflower?

Cauliflowers can be frozen and they freeze quite well in the freezer. However, it’s recommended to only freeze the florets and not the entire cauliflowers.

To make sure that the cauliflowers remain fresh for a long time, they have to be prepped before being stored in the freezer.

While you can just simply put the vegetable in a freezer bag and store it in the freezer, they tend to not last very long. The longest they’ll last before going bad is about a month.

Therefore, to ensure they last as long as possible is to blanch them first. Blanching cauliflower will help retain its texture, color, flavor, and nutrition.

Once it’s blanched, store them in an airtight container or freezer bag. If you’re using a freezer bag, make sure to remove as much air from the bag as possible. Air trapped in the bag will cause the vegetable to get freezer burn.

cauliflower varieties

How To Keep Cauliflower Fresh Longer

Buying Cauliflower

When buying cauliflower, always look for the one that is the freshest. Unfortunately, for these vegetables, there is no expiry date on the plastic package that it comes in.

However, there are some things you can look for such the appearance, color, and smell.

Fresh cauliflower will have a creamy white color all around. For those varieties that are purple, green, or orange-colored, make sure the florets are uniformly colored. As they start to go bad, the color will darken for all varieties.

As for appearance, fresh cauliflower will have densely packed florets without any blemishes, browning, or wet spots. The color of the leaves will be bright green and not wilting.

When it comes to the smell, fresh cauliflower will have that fresh smell to it. When it starts to go bad, it will give off a strong smell. Once it’s past it’s prime, the smell will be bad enough that you’ll turn your head away.

Handling Cauliflower

Cauliflower needs to be handled with care from when you’ve harvested them from the garden or purchase them at the grocery stores.

If you’re buying them, whether it’s from the grocery store or farmer’s market, make sure to keep place them on top of other products when carrying them in a bag. Better yet, keep them in their own bag is the best way to keep them from getting damaged. Once they get damaged, the vegetable will start to go bad.

Cauliflower from the garden should be harvested in the morning when it’s cool. Cut only as much as you need and prepare them for storage or use for cooking. Vegetables from the garden will be the best quality.

In the kitchen, whether you’ve bought them or harvest them from the garden, do not keep them together in a basket. It’s much better to keep them separately to avoid damaging each other.

Related Questions

Why does cauliflower smell bad?

Raw cauliflower doesn’t have a smell to it, but cooked cauliflower does. This vegetable contains sulfur compounds that have a naturally unpleasant smell. As the cauliflower is being cooked, the odor will be brought out.

You won’t be able to eliminate the sulfur smells, but you can minimize them.

Why did my cauliflower turn yellow?

The yellowing of the cauliflower is a natural occurrence as it mature. If the cauliflower is being exposed to the sun too long, the vegetable will start to turn to a dull yellow color.

The yellow color doesn’t affect the taste of the vegetable. It’ll taste just like the regular colored cauliflower you’re used to seeing.