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Purple Cauliflower Q&A

Purple Cauliflower

Break out of your vegetable routine with less common vegetables such as purple cauliflower. There tons of tasty ways to cook and eat purple cauliflower, and by adding this versatile vegetable to your diet, you will be flooding your body with antioxidants. Check out the Q∓A below to get answers to some of the most common questions about this extraordinary vegetable.

Why is Purple Cauliflower Purple? Is it Dyed?

No, purple cauliflower is not dyed. Purple cauliflower gets its distinctive color from anthocyanins, naturally occurring flavonoid pigments that are also responsible for the color of many other purple vegetables and black berries including purple carrots, purple cabbage, black raspberries, blackberries, aronia berries and elderberries. Anthocyanins protect plants from the harmful effects of UV irradiation [1], but these antioxidant compounds have also been researched for their potential health benefits for humans.

Purple vs White Cauliflower: Which is Healthier?

Given that purple cauliflower is loaded with flavonoid pigments, which are known for their strong antioxidant properties, it is not surprising that the in vitro antioxidant capacity of purple cauliflower has been found to be much higher than the antioxidant capacity of white cauliflower [2]. However, before you rush to declare that purple cauliflower is healthier than white cauliflower, keep in mind that in vitro antioxidant capacity does not necessarily translate into in vivo biological activity. Therefore, more research is needed to explore the health benefits of the antioxidants in purple cauliflower vs white cauliflower in actual living beings.

Is Purple Cauliflower Genetically Modified?

If you are trying to eliminate genetically modified organisms, or GMO's, from your diet, not to worry: you can safely eat purple cauliflower. Purple cauliflower varieties such as Graffiti have been developed through natural breeding techniques, not through genetic modification [3]. These techniques have been around for a long time and they have been used to change the color of a wide range of vegetables, including carrots. In fact, the purple carrot was the most popular type of carrot in Europe until Dutch plant breeders developed the orange carrot in the 17th century.

What Does Purple Cauliflower Taste Like?

Compared with many other Brassica vegetables, purple cauliflower has a mild, almost nutty flavor. Its flavor is very similar to that white cauliflower, so you can use it as a substitute in all recipes that call for regular cauliflower. Just keep in mind that when you boil it, some of the flavonoid pigments will leach into the water, which will give the cooking water a unique hue.

Where Can I Buy Purple Cauliflower (or its Seeds)?

Your best bet is to head to a local farmers' market, though you may also be able to buy purple cauliflower in some grocery stores. And, if you have no luck in finding fresh purple cauliflower anywhere in your area, you can always grow your own if you have a garden. Seeds are available from as well as from the online retailer's local stores in Canada ( and the UK (, and they will yield beautiful purple cauliflower heads in about 80 days after planting.

1. M. Afifi et al (2015). Thiamethoxam as a seed treatment alters the physiological response of maize (Zea mays) seedlings to neighbouring weeds. Pest Management Science, 71(4):505-14. PubMed
2. J. Volden, G. Bengtsson and T. Wicklund (2009). Glucosinolates, l-ascorbic acid, total phenols, anthocyanins, antioxidant capacities and colour in cauliflower (Brassica oleracea L. ssp. botrytis); effects of long-term freezer storage. Food Chemistry, 112(4), 967-976. ScienceDirect
3. K. Nolte. Multicolored Cauliflower. College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, The University of Arizona.

Book You May Like
Brassica Cookbook
Even though the health benefits of Brassica vegetables have been documented in numerous studies, many home cooks still find these green veggies a little intimidating. In Brassicas: Cooking the World's Healthiest Vegetables, Laura Russell teaches home cooks how to bring out the wonderful flavors of these super-veggies without burying them under unhealthy ingredients like cheese. Brussels sprouts, for example, develop a wonderful sweet flavor when they are roasted, while watercress comes into its own in salads that can benefit from a little peppery kick. To learn more, or order a copy, go to Amazon.