Cauliflower is a vegetable in the same family as broccoli, kale, collard greens, and cabbage. And like just about every vegetable, cauliflower will dry up and become inedible if you leave it out too long. But how long is “too long?” Exactly how long does cauliflower last at room temperature? Or in the fridge, or the freezer?
Cauliflower can actually last up to two days at room temperature, which is more than many foods can boast. In the fridge it lasts a little more than a week. If frozen properly it can last up to eight months in the freezer. Again, this is more time than you are going to get out of any meat, and many other veggies.
For this reason, it is best to examine the storage methods and how they are executed. Perhaps you know exactly how long you expect to wait before eating your cauliflower. Or perhaps you are unsure and would prefer to give yourself as much time as possible. Either way, there is a method that will work for you.
Preserving Cauliflower At Room Temperature
Cauliflower cannot last long at room temperature, but it does not go bad in quite the same way that many other foods go bad at room temperature. The United States Department of Agriculture makes use of what they call the “two hour rule”. This is a rule that no food is safe to eat if left out at room temperature for two hours.
The logic behind it is that many foods, especially cooked foods, will develop dangerous bacteria by this time. Vegetables, however, tend to be different. Dangerous bacteria thrive among the warmth and protein of cooked meat, but have trouble invading the ecosystem of a vegetable that is still partially alive.
A big component of what makes vegetables healthy is the fact that after they are picked, they still have a period during which they have living matter on them. It is not a long period, and they are not exactly living things. But they have cells that still contain the enzymes that make vegetables as healthy as they are.
In fact, vegetables still have a semblance of an immune system. It will not fight off very much, but that combined with the fact they do not have much in the way of what bacteria are looking for means that they usually do not go bad due to bacteria growing on them.
Rather, vegetables go bad because they dry out. So, if you want to keep your vegetables alive for longer at room temperature, keep them wrapped in plastic or packaged in a Tupperware container. As long as you can be certain that they are somewhere airtight, they should last at least a day long with no problems.
Storing Cauliflower In The Fridge and Freezer
The advantages of an airtight container hold true in a refrigerator and freezer as well, but with some asterisks. It might seem odd to bundle the fridge and freezer together, but the method of preserving cauliflower in one is the exact same as the other, and so nothing is lost by considering them the same.
The thing about both the fridge and the freezer is that while they are airtight, the presence of other foods means that you cannot necessarily trust entirely in that airtightness to hold the moisture into your cauliflower.
This is because they are simply too big as containers to keep the moisture of the cauliflower from sticking back onto it after it has left it. This is less of a problem with the freezer, since less moisture will be leaving it, but the way to stretch that moisture for as long as it can go is the same for both of them.
The first step to protecting it is wrapping the cauliflower in plastic. Try your best to keep the plastic airtight, even if that means double wrapping it. This will keep anything in your freezer from landing on the cauliflower and spoiling it.
Next, you are going to want to make it so your cauliflower cannot touch anything else. What this means is placing it in a Tupperware container. Tupperware containers are also airtight, so it serves the double duty of keeping anything from landing on your cauliflower as well. However, not everyone has Tupperware.
If you are lacking Tupperware, then there is a solution that can work just as well. All you have to do is take two plates, place your cauliflower on one, then place the other one top-down onto the first plate. This is not airtight, but that is why you wrapped your cauliflower in plastic.
If you have so much cauliflower that you cannot do this, then you have two options: The first is to divide your cauliflower into two piles and use four plates to make two different makeshift “containers”.
The second option, though it is not preferable, is to use a ziplocked bag. Ziplocked bags are flimsy, but they work, and they are cheap. These methods should keep your cauliflower fresh for as long as possible.