I was reminded that not everybody grew up with earthy-crunchy backyard-gardening veggie freaks for parents* (like I did), and so may not be familiar with how to select good produce. Here are a couple of general tips and specific advice for cauliflower
Produce in general:
- Smaller tastes better.
- Funny-looking tastes better. (These two assume you have access to a farmers' market or good produce stand or something other than the conventionally-grown produce clones available in most supermarkets.)
- If you're going to peel it before eating it, surface blemishes don't matter (and may be a bargain).
Cauliflower in particular:
- A good cauliflower seems heavier than it ought to for its size. When you pick it up, you should think "whoa, does this thing have a lead core?"
- Look for a head that's firm; if it's started to dry out and wither a bit, check the others.
- Look for a creamy-white color to the head. If there are a few small black dots, that's okay but you'll want to trim them off before cooking it.
*Speaking of gardening and my parents, I just looked up The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping: Home Landscaping with Food-Bearing Plants and Resource-Saving Techniques
on Amazon — Roz was my mom's college roommate, and my dad proofread the book before it went to press.
It's currently selling for $75 and up.
I have two copies.