The origins of the cauliflower

Comforting Cauliflowers

Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale and kohlrabi are all part of the same plant

A Cauliflower is THE winter comfort food. As a side to a Sunday roast or the main event for an evening treat, it can be soup, boiled, roasted mashed, made into rice, or jarred into piccalilli, anything really! But did you know that cauliflower is actually a highly modified version of a cabbage? Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale and kohlrabi are all part of the same plant known as the wild cabbage, below is how one vegetable became 6. 

Kohlrabi – made out of the stem.

Kale – obtained from the leaves.

Brussels sprouts – made out of the lateral buds.

Broccoli – made out of portions of the stem and flowers.

Cabbage – developed from the terminal buds.

Cauliflower – made out of the flower clusters.

Although we consider all these six as different plants, they all have the same ancestor. However, broccoli is the closest cultivated relative of cauliflower. It’s not exactly known when the first cauliflower varieties appeared, but sources suggest between 500 and 1500 AD. 


Today, the white florets in the centre (called curds) have a flower like structure and whilst the leaves are less commonly eaten, they can still be used as a side dish cooked as you would spinach (stir fried with ginger is a personal favourite to fight off those winter colds!) Whilst they are available most of the year, a cauliflower is in its prime during the colder months, (with dad swearing the frost makes them taste 10 times better). It is high in vitamin K and C and low in calories making it a popular alternative to pizza doughs and rice. There are hundreds of varieties of cauliflower with other colours such as purple, green or yellow, all have a similar taste but are universally good topped with cheese. See our cottage cauliflower recipe for an exciting twist on your usual cauliflower cheese.

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