What's up with brown spots on cauliflower?

(BuckRimfire) #1

Heads of cauliflower often have small brown spotty areas on their surface. I first thought these were mold, but now I’m suspicious that they’re instead some sort of spontaneous browning reaction in the tissue to being bruised during shipping and handling. The reason I think that is primarily that they are almost always only on the highest surfaces of the florets, where contact with an underlying surface would occur. I would think mold would be even more likely to develop in the crevices between florets or on their undersides, but I never see this in the interior of the cauliflower head.

Does anyone know for certain? I fear eating mold, but I’m hopeful that this is rather harmless.

(Bob M) #2

My wife still uses the cauliflower with those, but I believe she cuts them off.

(BuckRimfire) #3

Yes, my habit is to shave them off with a knife except for the tiniest ones. Sometimes they are pretty widespread, which is bummer.

(Allie) #4

I’ve always assumed it’s due to the cauliflower aging and just use them anyway

(Bob M) #5

If you’re cooking in the oven, it likely won’t matter. We make fauxtatoes sometimes, and I guess that might not look as appetizing.



A scattering of pale brown spots on the cauliflower curds isn’t all that abnormal, and it doesn’t necessary mean it’s time to ditch that newly purchased veggie. The culprit for this discoloration is oxidation, which happens naturally the longer cauliflower is stored.

Oxidation is simply the natural change in the vegetable’s color due to prolonged exposure to light and air. It’s the same change that occurs when the flesh of sliced apples turns brown, and when ground meat starts to gray.

The good news is that you can still cook with this cauliflower. While the discoloration doesn’t look appealing, it’s harmless as long as the spots haven’t turned a dark color or have a mushy texture.