Why do caulitflower heads turn from white to pink

by Linda James
(York, UK)

I have a large allotment in York, England, and for the past two years I've grown cauliflowers and each time as the heads start to grow the florets have turn a pink colour (which disappears when I cook them). I wondered if it was a deficiency in the soil, or the fact I'm using water from the allotment standpipe?

We've had a really hot, humid summer this year and the cauliflowers 'pinked up' as soon as the heads formed. Would appreciate advice from anyone who has experienced the same problem.

Before closing I just want to say that your no-dig ideas are in operation all over the allotment site - fully embedded, if you'll pardon the pun!


Comments for Why do caulitflower heads turn from white to pink

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Sep 23, 2010
Pink Cauliflower
by: Sue

If the cauliflower is exposed to the sun, it can cause it to turn pink. Did you tie up the leaves to protect it? Even "self-blanching" types sometimes need a little help. Hope this helps.

Sep 29, 2010
Cauliflowers turning pink
by: Megan

Just to expand a bit on the above good answer...

There are cauliflowers that are bred to have purple pigments in them, and some which are only tinged with pink, but if your caulis are of the white variety then it just may be a simple matter of covering the heads to keep out the light which makes heads turn shades of cream, yellow/green and maybe slightly pinkish.

Most cauliflowers have leaves than curl over the head naturally — self-blanching, but sometimes it's necessary to do it manually. You can use a peg to keep the leaves together loosely on top, or break the ribs of the top leaves and drape them over – but break them high up so there is air space underneath to stop fungal infections occurring.

It's possible that your caulis have poor leaf growth which stops them being able to provide a protective cover for the head. Check water and nutrients are adequate; soil is not waterlogged, compacted or too sandy and loose. A test for pH and trace mineral deficiencies such as boron or molybdenum is a good idea if in doubt about your soil.

Your pink caulis could just be caused by weather patterns. They will be perfectly edible and probably like the bred purple varieties could be a bit sweeter than normal. What happens is that sometimes if the weather is hot, then turns cool or has cool nights, it can send the plant into premature head formation mode, before good leaf growth has had a chance to form. Cool and hot fluctuating temperatures themselves can often cause white caulis to get a pinkish tinge even if leaves do cover them.

Sounds like a great allotment — they are called 'community gardens' here, and becoming popular once again.

Jan 02, 2011
why do healthy white cauliflower heads turns yellow
by: Holly Hamilton

I have two healthy white cauliflower plants that were close to being ready to harvest. A week later one had turned a brownish yellow and the next week the other one the same color. I can't find anything online about a pest or fungus causing this and I am reluctant to eat this. I pulled them both up, before they were ready to harvest. Any clues as to what is wrong? My broccoli came along great, as did my cabbage.

Apr 11, 2013
Pink Coliflower
by: kiwidave07

Yes, I'm in
Christchurch New Zealand and I've just picked a cali and its pink. I hope its ok to eat.

Aug 12, 2014
pink cauliflowers
by: jourdain 2

Glad to read all that. I'm in the Vienne, France and it has been a heavy, humid summer. Just seen that some of mine are turning pink. Are they OK to eat? I'm now off to break the top leaves over them.

Sep 01, 2014
What about greenish tinge?
by: Anonymous

I'm near Melbourne, Australia and I have just picked a cauli which has turned a green colour although it's the white variety. Beneath the green, the cauli is white and appears healthy. Is it edible or should I bin it?

Sep 01, 2014
Cauliflower heads changing colors
by: Anonymous

Yes, perfectly edible i would say. Caulis are known to change colors as they are forming heads and even when the heads are mature. It's the weather I think. Don't eat anything that is obviously rotten and mush, but if the head is firm, eat it!

Mar 05, 2015
to all
by: Anonymous

i have a large bed of cali, in central fl. this is normal win the cali, matures. there is nothing wrong with the cali. in most cases the pink will disappear when cooked. you can eat raw, it is not a mold or anything that can hurt you. i eat pink cali yesterday and i'm still here to type this.

Jan 08, 2016
why cauliflower turns pink
by: Anonymous

i am from india. i had gone for a field trip to a village. there i saw some cauliflowers had pinkish tinge while rest of them were completely white. the farmer said that it was deliberately allowed to turn red so that it can produce seeds.

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