A cauliflower is essentially an unopened flower head. The curd is formed from swollen meristematic tissue, just underneath where flower buds would normally form. Cauliflowers are fragile, and should be handled with care.
Cauliflowers have few storage reserves and little protection from moisture loss, so need to be cooled below 5°C as soon as possible after harvest. Hydro-vacuum cooling and forced air systems can be effective. Storage life is maximised at close to 0°C with over 90% RH. Moisture loss and discolouration end cauliflower storage life within only a few days at higher temperatures.
Black spotting – curd blackening – is a major postharvest disorder affecting cauliflower. The causes are not well understood, but could be microbial, physiological, or both. Low temperatures, avoiding free moisture on the curds and careful handling reduce curd blackening.