Cauliflowers – More than White!
Brassica oleracea Botrytis group
Australian gardeners are having a love affair with their home grown vegetables. They are looking for healthy food and of course the best way to have organically grown food is to do so yourself. It is also a sure fire way of getting kids to eat their veggies. It is amazing to watch a young child who won't eat carrots until they grow their own. It becomes fun for them rather than a chore.
Another reason we are all in the garden is the range. Go to a supermarket and you are lucky to find four varieties of tomato, two of carrots and one cauliflower. Go to a good quality green grocer and you will triple this but go to a nursery in the potted herbs, seedlings or seed stand and there are dozens of cultivars of most edible plants.
We recently visited a specialist seed company and his range was amazing. He had cultivars of standard vegetables that we had never heard of. Colours and shapes to make the dinner plate a piece of artwork. He also had unusual plants of Asian, African an Latin origin that have been well known in those communities but not seen by regular Aussie families.
The internet has made these items more accessible to the general community. Companies like Diggers Seeds have done an amazing job over the decades of promoting old fashion varieties, new cultivars and unusual plants. At Renaissance Herbs we try and fill s lot between Diggers and the big growers by searching out these odd plants and putting them in our 10cm range. Some are done for a few years and are then dropped others become a regular part of the range and some even take off with other growers.
It can be a challenge as we try and grow varieties we have never done before. Sometimes it is a timing challenge, sometimes a climatic issue and sometimes simply trying to put some plants in a 10cm pot. We also need to know how to use the product and if it has any side effects or allergy issues. However it is this challenge that makes our job interesting and rewarding.
Last month we looked at the history and benefits of cauliflower. As veggie it is one of the really good ones for our health. It should be eaten at least once a week as it is good for regenerating the liver and this helps those of us who like a drop of wine or two.
We all remember the old 'meat and three veggies' concept. This came about as a meal with a moderate serve of meat and three different vegetables would give a balance of protein, carbohydrates and nutrients. The problem is we have dropped off the added part of three colours. Different coloured vegetables have different vitamins and essential proteins and minerals. There should be something green, white and yellow or red. Purple is also good as a change.
Over the recent past we have seen an increase in the range of coloured vegetables in the supermarkets. Purple carrots, blue potatoes and purple asparagus are but a few of them. However they are not new as many have been for centuries. We have introduced into our range a couple of coloured cauliflower varieties: Cheddar and Graffitti. Cheddar is an attractive orange sub species called Brassica oleracea botrytis. It is a naturally occurring mutation first found in Canada several decades ago. It has up to 30% more Vitamin A than the standard white forms.
One of the chemicals present in the red and purple veggies is a group of those trendy antioxidants called anthocyanins. These are what makes red wine good for you so we like them. For those of you unlucky people who do not partake in the good drop you can get a good dose in purple cauliflower. The heads have a delightful colour and like Cheddar it is naturally occurring. It is thought to have originated in Italy.
So brighten up your garden and plate with coloured cauliflowers and at the same time help that hard working liver process your wine intake.