What is bleaching: Learn when and how to bleach cauliflower

Learning how or when to boil a cauliflower is a very common question in gardening and an important thing to know. To help familiarize yourself with this gardening procedure, learn more about how to scald a cauliflower.

What is bleaching?

For many people, especially those familiar with cooking and food preservation vocabulary, blanching involves immersing a fruit or vegetable in boiling water for a very short period of time to stop the ripening process, then quickly transferring it to ice water so that the item is not fully cooked.

However, scalding in horticulture is something completely different. It is the technique of covering a plant or part of a plant to prevent the development of colour. Cauliflower blanching is one such technique. This is what gives the vegetable its creamy white colour.

Should the cauliflower be blanched? Technically, no. Bleaching has nothing to do with head development or nutritional content. However, if it is not, the curd will be greenish-brown instead of white and the taste will be stronger, almost bitter. But since it is one of the most difficult garden vegetables to grow, why not take it a step further by blanching the cauliflower to add the pleasure of harvesting a perfectly formed head with a sweet taste?

Learning how to bleach cauliflower is not difficult and the results are worth it.

When and how to boil cauliflower

Cauliflower needs cool temperatures, a constant supply of moisture and plenty of fertilizer. To obtain white curd in many varieties, it is necessary to tie the leaves around the developing curd.

The first thing to know is when to boil a cauliflower. Start checking your plants about 30 days after transplanting your seedlings. Curdling develops quickly and it is this development that tells you when to scald. A curdled cauliflower the size of a hen’s egg is perfect. The small curds are already protected from the light by the leaves around them. As they grow, they are more exposed and it is time to start blanching them. The cauliflower curd grows quickly when the head is full, so the window is small.

Cauliflower is extremely sensitive to fungi, so the second condition for blanching a cauliflower is the driest part of the day. You don’t want to trap moisture in your leaf litter. The next step is to bleach the cauliflower successfully.

When the curd has a diameter of 2 to 3 cm (about the size of an egg), the large outer leaves should be tied up and placed on the emerging curd. The simplest way to do this is to tie the leaves with rubber bands, tape or string. If you use rubber bands, make sure they are strong enough to hold the leaves and growing heads. The leaves should be tied loosely to give the curd plenty of room to develop.

As the environment develops at different rates, you will need to check your plants for several days, tying up the ones that are ready. If your plantation is large, using a different coloured band or string for each day will be useful for harvesting, as the heads that have been tied first will be ready to be harvested first. The time between tying and harvesting varies from four to five days during the warm days of spring to 14 to 21 days during the cool days of fall.

Should we boil the cauliflower?

A small caveat is in order here. There are varieties that are self-destructive. Their leaves have been grown for curling and on the developing head and are for the most part successful. Their fall is accompanied by the development of extra large curds whose leaves are simply not long enough to do the job.

There are also more colourful varieties on the market and, as they are not white, it may seem at first glance that they do not need to be bleached. Cauliflowers of this type will always develop chlorophyll and lose their unique colour if they are not protected from the sun. The exception would be the plant known as purple cauliflower, which is not a cauliflower at all. It is broccoli.

Knowing when and how to blanch a cauliflower will give the perfect finishing touch to a vegetable that is often difficult to grow.

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