You picked out a head of cauliflower and popped it in your shopping cart without noticing the brown spots on it. Wondering if it’s still good to eat? You’re not alone. A lot of grocery shoppers are puzzled when they see this discoloration on their “fresh” pieces of produce. So, what gives?
According to International Produce Training, a brown spot on a cauliflower is one of the most common defects you’ll ever see on the vegetable. The reason why this discoloration happens so often is due to a natural process called oxidation, which happens when a cauliflower is stored for a long time. The longer a cauliflower sits in storage — such as a refrigerated grocery store shelf — the more likely it is to have a few spots or more. These types of spots are harmless, but they can sometimes affect the marketability of the product. (Rest assured, you’re not the only one who has had second thoughts about a cauliflower purchase due to those spots!)
That said, it’s worth keeping in mind that this type of discoloration is a preview for actual decay, which you definitely want to avoid chowing down on. (If you eat mold accidentally, some nasty side effects could occur.) The good news is that it’s pretty easy to tell if a cauliflower has gone bad.
If you want to make sure that a cauliflower is still edible, take a close look at the spots and check that they aren’t too dark and too widespread over the entire vegetable. Touch them to confirm that they haven’t taken on a mushy texture, suggests The Kitchn. And take a whiff to be sure that the cauliflower doesn’t have an unpleasant odor. If all things check out, your cauliflower is probably just fine to eat — and ready to be transformed into delicious meals such as cauliflower-crust pizza and cauliflower mac ‘n’ cheese bites.
But what if you just can’t stand how those spots on the cauliflower look? If it’s simply an aesthetic issue for you, it’s totally fine to simply cut off the pieces that contain spots with a sturdy kitchen knife. And voila — your tasty cauliflower recipes await!