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Purple cauliflower gets its color from anthocyanin, a naturally occurring phytochemical that is also found in other red, blue, or purple fruits and vegetables, as well as red wine. Carotenoids are responsible for the color in orange cauliflower; carotenoids are also found in carrots, squash, and other yellow vegetables and fruits. Orange cauliflower actually came about as a genetic mutation that allows it to hold more beta carotene than its white counterpart. Green cauliflower, also known as broccoflower, is a hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower. Green cauliflower contains more beta carotene than white cauliflower, but less than broccoli.
Colored cauliflower can be eaten raw, roasted, grilled, sautéed or steamed. Cooks Illustrated experimented to find out the best method of preparation for holding color. They found that the orange cauliflower proved to be the most stable; the orange pigments are not water soluble or sensitive to heat. The chlorophyll in the green cauliflower is heat sensitive just like broccoli; overcooking will cause the cauliflower to become brown. The anthocyanins in purple cauliflower leach out in water which dulls it’s color; color is better retained with dry heat such as roasting, grilling, or sautéing.
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