Cruciferous means cross-shaped. Cruciferous vegetables have blossoms with four equally spaced petals that form a cross. You'll probably be too wowed by the taste, however, to reflect on their botanical features. Consider some of these diverse examples:
- Round-headed cabbage. This cabbage has flat leaves of pale green or reddish-purple; Savoy cabbage has frilled leaves.
- Cauliflower. The stalks are topped with bunches called curds, and the most popular varieties are white or cream-colored. Lime-green Romanesco resembles a pine forest.
- Turnips. A rounded, cream-colored root; although available earlier, turnips are most flavorful in autumn.
- Rutabagas. A round root with pale orange flesh; the skin is cream-colored darkened to reddish-purple. Rutabaga is thought to be a cross between a turnip and wild cabbage.
Cruciferous vegetables have assertive flavors and can take strong seasonings. Cabbage pairs well with vinegar in sauerkraut. The sweeter rutabaga can be spiced with cloves. Try turnips with garlic and onions.
These veggies have a reputation as being smelly when cooked. Actually, it's overcooking that releases their unpleasant aroma. If steamed or braised until just fork-tender, not limp, they actually smell lightly sweet.
Quality traits depend on the specific vegetable. In general, heads should feel tight and heavy for their size. Stalks should be firm. Florets should appear fresh; avoid faded yellow broccoli or brown-speckled cauliflower. Likewise, roots should feel solid, not spongy, with an even color.
Unlike many fall vegetables, cruciferous veggies prefer the cool, moist confines of the refrigerator crisper. Stored in perforated plastic, they'll keep up to two weeks.
More Great Links
- Albert, Stephen. "Round-headed Cabbage." Feb. 19, 2007 (Sept. 6, 2010) http://www.harvestwizard.com/2007/02/roundheaded_cabbagethere_are_t.html
- Albert, Stephen. "Swiss chard." May 17, 2007 (Sept. 4, 2010) http://www.harvestwizard.com/2007/05/swiss_chard_stalk_vegetables.html
- Albert, Stephen. "Table Grape Varieties." Nov. 23, 2007 (Sept. 1, 2010) http://www.harvestwizard.com/2007/11/table_grape_varieties_the_flav.html
- Apple Journal. "Choosing Varieties." www.applejournal.com/use.htm
- Aubrey, Allison. "Kids Taste a Sweeter Veggie, White House Style." National Public Radio. Dec. 21, 2009. (Sept. 3, 2010) http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121611755
- Auman Vineyards. "History of Muscadines & Scuppernongs." (Sept. 2, 2010) http://www.scuppernongs.com/id2.html
- Blue Ridge Farm Direct Market Association. "How do you know whether an apple is ripe?" (Aug. 30, 2010) http://www.ncapples.com/DataImages/Directory/0000000130.pdf
- Braswell, John, and Freddie Rasberry. "Fruit and Nut Review: Oriental Persimmons." (Sept. 2, 2010) http://msucares.com/pub/infosheets/is1446.pdf
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Vegetable of the Month: Winter Squash." (Aug. 25, 2010) http://www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov/month/winter_squash.html
- Cornell University." Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners." (Sept. 6, 2010) http://vegvariety.cce.cornell.edu/mainSearch/showAll.php?ID=76&sortBy=overallrating&order=DESC&searchIn=1
- Dole Food Company, Inc. "Grapes." http://www.dome.com/SuperKids/Encyclopedia/Types/tabid/832/Default.aspx?contentid=2516
- FoodReference.com. "Tomato Quotes." (Aug. 28, 2010) http://www.foodreference.com/html/qtomatoes.html
- Fuhrman, Joel. "Cruciferous vegetables: powerful anti-cancer foods." Valley Courier. Feb. 15, 2010 (Sept. 6, 2010) http://www.alamosanews.com/V2_news_articles.php?heading=0&page=75&story_id=15768
- George Mateljan Foundation for the World's Healthiest Foods. "Sweet Potatoes." (Aug. 25, 2010) http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=64#purchasequalities
- Jett, Lewis W. "Swiss Chard: A New Look at an Old Crop." May 13, 2010 (Sept. 4, 2010) http://anr.ext.wvu.edu/commercial_horticulture/production_guide/swiss_chard
- National Grape Cooperative, Inc. "Production Areas." (Sept. 2, 2010) http://www.nationalgrape.com/01d_pa.html
- New Hope Seed Company. "Sweet Potato Plants." (Sept. 6, 2010) http://www.newhopeseed.com/vegetable/sweet_potato.htm
- Pleasant, Barbara. "A Toast to Roasted Vegetables." Mother Earth News. Nov. 17, 2008. (Sept. 4, 2010) http://www.motherearthnews.com/Relish/Roasted-Vegetables-Recipe-Tips.aspx
- Pleasant, Barbara. "All about Growing Spinach." Mother Earth News. Oct/Nov. 2008 (Sept. 3, 2010) http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organic-Gardening/2008-10-01/How-To-Grow-Spinach.aspx
- Russo, Susanne. "Falling for Persimmons." National Public Radio. Nov. 26, 2008 (Aug. 26, 2010) http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97458318
- Savonen, Carol. "When to pick and how to ripen pears to perfection." (Aug. 31, 2010) http://extension.oregonstate.edu/news/story.php?S_No=1003&storyType=garden
- Sugar, David, Elizabeth Mitcham, and Eugene Kupferman. "Re-Thinking the Chill Requirement." Postharvest Information Network. Dec. 2009 (Aug. 31, 2010) http://postharvest.tfrec.wsu.edu/REP2009B.pdf
- Tantillo, Tony. "Produce Tips: Vegetables." (Aug. 25, 2010) http://www.tonytantillo.com/producetips/vegetables/rootveg.html
- The Maine Potato Lady. "Late-Season Potatoes." (Sept. 5, 2010) https://www.mainepotatolady.com/productcart/pc/viewCategories.asp?idCategory=33
- University of Idaho. "Options for Storing Potatoes at Home." Woodell, Lynn, Nora Olsen, and Jim Wilson. March 2009 (Sept. 6, 2010) http:www.kimberly.uidaho.edu/potatoes/CIS1153.pdf
- University of Illinois. "Collards." (Sept. 4, 2010) http://urbanext.illinois.edu/veggies/collards.cfm
- University of Illinois. "Potatoes." (Aug. 25, 2010) http://urbanext.illinois.edu/veggies/potato.cfm
- University of Iowa. "Collard greens." (Sept. 4, 2010) http://extension.iastate.edu/healthnutrtition/foodrecipeactivity/food/collard_greens.htm
- USA Pears. "A Pear for Every Taste." (Aug. 25, 2010) http://www.usapears.com/en/Recipes%20And%20Lifestyle/Now%20Serving/Pears%20and%20Varieties.aspx
Here is a delightful dish for a Fall harvest dinner party; Jim Deliman's carrot saffron soup recipe. Learn how to make Jim Deliman's carrot saffron soup.