The Pantry Staple That Prevents Cauliflower From Turning Brown

Whether you've crafted creamy mashed cauliflower for a side dish or easy roasted cauliflower as one component of a weeknight meal, leftover management can be tricky. Maybe this problem sounds familiar: Your cooked cauliflower turned an unappealing brownish hue. If you've encountered this, you might wonder what went wrong and whether anything can be done. 

Cauliflower turns brown after cooking for a range of reasons. Sometimes, the discoloration is due to a chemical reaction between the cauliflower and your cookware. In other instances, it's due to a pH imbalance. Whatever the cause, the solution is always the same: You need to add acidity. Reach for a dash of lemon juice, as just a small amount added to your cooking liquid or directly to the cauliflower will help it retain its bright white hue without giving it a strong citrus flavor. 

Other preventative measures include avoiding exposing this vegetable to certain types of knives or cookware, like those made from aluminum, tin, or iron. You can also reduce how much time cauliflower spends exposed to oxygen before cooking it. 

What to do when cauliflower browns before you cook it

As any cauliflower connoisseur knows, it's not only during or after the cooking process that cauliflower can turn brown. Cauliflower can occasionally develop a sprinkling of unsightly brown spots while sitting in the bottom of your produce drawer. The good news? As long as the brown spots are the only sign your cauliflower is worse for wear, it's still okay to eat. The browning is due to oxidization; unless the spots are darker, they aren't mold. The bad news? Those brown spots still don't look appetizing. To remove them, cut off the affected florets individually or use a knife to shave away the brown spots if the browning is less severe.

Not sure whether you're dealing with some brown spots or your cauliflower has rotten? According to UNL Food at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, cauliflower can be stored in the fridge for three to five days; during this time, it's still safe to eat. If you want to freeze cauliflower, it can be stored safely for up to a year. However, signs of spoiled cauliflower include visible mold growth, a slimy texture, and-or a sour, musty, or unpleasant smell.