The Truth Behind Brown Spots On Cauliflower And Whether Or Not You Should Eat It


Last week, I was at the grocery store when I spotted an awesome two-for-one deal on cauliflower. It wasn't a part of my shopping list, but there was no way I was going to pass up a sale that good.

Since I wasn't going to cook them right away, I had plans to wash and freeze the curds as soon as I got home, but that's not what happened. When I finally got around to washing the vegetable a few days later, I noticed that one of them had started to develop brown spots all over.

Of course, I threw it out. My initial thought was that the spots were caused by mold, but apparently, I might have been wrong all along.

After a friend pointed out that the discoloration was harmless, I did my own research and multiple sources on the internet backed up her claim.

There are many trusted sources that argue that the spots aren't caused by bacteria.

According to Eat or Toss?, because the vegetable is harvested before it reaches maturity, it bruises easily when handled poorly or exposed to extreme temperatures.

The International Produce Training website also claims that oxidization is the likely cause for the change in color. This is also why apples turn brown.

However, they noted that "the discoloration is also a prelude to decay, which is a soft, mushy type decay affecting the curds."

If the vegetable is still fresh but the pale brown spots still bother you, just trim the tops or cut the affected curds off before you cook it.

"It’s not going to hurt you, it just doesn’t look good visually," said Chris Gunter, vegetable production specialist at North Carolina State University. "With cauliflower, you’re dealing with an immature inflorescence. So the shelf life is really delicate."

To prevent discoloration from occurring, try not to wash the vegetable until right before cooking. How you store it is also important, so make sure to place in a loose plastic bag along with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture once you place it in the fridge.

Do you eat cauliflower with brown spots on it? Let us know!