Brassica oleracea var. botrytis

Brassica oleracea var. botrytis

Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea L. var. Botrytis) is a variety of Brassica oleracea and therefore belongs to the Brassicaceae family.

Systematic –
From a systematic point of view, it belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, Kingdom Plantae, Subregion Tracheobionta, Division Magnoliophyta, Class Magnoliopsida, Order Capparales, Family Brassicaceae and therefore to the Genus Brassica, to the Species B. oleracea and to the variety B. o. botrytis.

Etymology –
The term Brassica comes from brassica, the Latin name of the cabbage described by several authors, attested in the literature starting from Plautus (III-II century BC). The origin of this name is uncertain and has been traced back to Greek or Celtic voices, without totally convincing evidence. Several etymological texts refer to the word Βράσκη braske, according to Hesychius used by the Italics in Magna Grecia to indicate cabbage.
The specific epithet oleracea comes from ólus óleris vegetable: used as a vegetable.
The name botrytis comes from botrytis giallamina, a yellowish mineral: probable reference to the color of some parts of the plant when cut.

Geographical Distribution and Habitat –
Cauliflower is a variety of Brassica oleracea, a plant cultivated for a very long time and over the centuries many varieties and cultivars have been selected. The wild form from which all these types originated, including Brassica oleracea L. var. botrytis, is native to the Atlantic coasts of western Europe.

Description –
Brassica oleracea L. var. botrytis is a biennial herbaceous plant, which has a not very deep taproot root. On the erect stem (15 to 50 cm long) a few dozen ribbed leaves are inserted, of which the outer ones are larger, of a more or less intense green color sometimes tending to gray, pruinose, while the inner ones are yellowish or light green and often completely cover the edible part.
The second year an inflorescence is formed, called head or ball, consisting of numerous flower peduncles, very enlarged and variously constipated. The corymbose inflorescence, which can take on a various color (white, straw, green, violet) constitutes the edible part of the vegetable.

Cultivation –
Cauliflower has numerous varieties, which are distinguished according to the time of maturation, so there are very early (harvested in October), early (harvested in November-December), winter (harvested in January-February) and late (harvested) varieties. March to May). In addition to the most popular varieties with white inflorescence, there are others with different colors, such as the green cauliflower of Macerata or the violet cauliflower of Catania.
For cultivation it is a plant that prefers fresh, deep, medium-textured soils.
The sowing period, which must be done in the seedbed, is between May and July, while for spring production it takes place in January. The transplant in the field of seedlings is carried out 40-50 days after sowing.
Before transplanting, the soil is prepared with a plowing, with which fertilization, preferably organic, is also carried out. The jobs after the transplant consist of one or two weeding. Irrigation is practiced after the transplant (in July-August) and during the growth of the inflorescence if drought occurs. The harvest is done by cutting the core at the base.

Customs and Traditions –
Cauliflower is one of the most cultivated crucifers in Italy, widespread above all in the central-southern regions and precisely in Campania, Marche, Tuscany, Lazio, Puglia and Sicily. Its origin is rather uncertain. The name derives from the Latin “caulis” (stem, cabbage) and “floris” (flower). In Italy it first established itself in Tuscany, as evidenced by some Medici paintings of the early eighteenth century where a cauliflower from the Arezzo area is portrayed which is offered as a gift to Cosimo III. The countries where its cultivation is most widespread are India, China, France, Italy and the United States.
Cauliflower is used both fresh and frozen, dehydrated and pickled.
From a nutritional point of view, cabbage is indicated to fight intestinal pathologies thanks to its vitamin reconstruction, remineralizing effects, and above all for the intestinal movement. Among the most important minerals contained in cabbage we find: sulfur, calcium, phosphorus, copper, iodine, selenium, magnesium.
Cabbages, during cooking, give off a bad smell due to the presence of sulfur-based compounds which, however, are released during cooking. The sulphides vanish at 90% after 8 minutes of cooking and are completely eliminated after 16 minutes. Cabbages also contain very useful nutritional substances for our body which, however, are eliminated during this process. It seems that these substances even have a cancer prevention function. For this reason it is always good to cook them in the pressure cooker, in order to reduce both the cooking time and the loss of these substances, as well as avoiding the spread of bad smells.
Among the beneficial characteristics of cabbages there is undoubtedly its anti-inflammatory property. This is why it can relieve pain and discomfort in cases of arthritis, heart and autoimmune diseases. Not only that, according to specific studies, cabbage has been shown to contain more iron per calorie than a steak. This, associated with the fact that the assimilation of iron contained in foods of plant origin is facilitated by the consumption of foods rich in vitamin C, makes cabbage one of the healthiest foods. Cabbage also contains more calcium per calorie than milk, whose calcium is more complex for us to assimilate than vegetable calcium.
It should also be noted that this vegetable contains large amounts of omega 3, natural antioxidants that not only help us keep us healthy, but slow down cellular aging, making our skin more toned and elastic. One serving of cabbage contains about 120 milligrams of omega 3 fatty acids and about 92 milligrams of omega 6 fatty acids. Cabbage is an important source of substances that are good for our immune system helping it to defend itself against seasonal diseases, such as fevers and colds. and from attacks by germs and bacteria.
Finally, it is emphasized that this vegetable is also excellent against hypertension and high blood pressure thanks to the presence of glutamic acid, an amino acid that helps to lower blood pressure and, therefore, protect our body and our heart. Precisely for this organ, sulforaphane is of great help, able to reactivate NRF2, the protein responsible for keeping blood vessels cleared of accumulations of fat that are the main cause of cardiovascular diseases such as angina, heart attack, stroke and, precisely, arteriosclerosis. .

Method of Preparation –
Cauliflower can be eaten boiled, fried, roasted or steamed. It can be used as a side dish or even as a main dish, in the preparation of vegetable soups. Contrary to popular belief, this vegetable can also be eaten raw, mixed with salads. You only have to take the upper part of the “flower”, the so-called heads (the rest can be used cooked as usual), and cut them into thin slices as much as possible. These, added to mixed vegetables, will be a delicacy. A good mix can be made from different varieties of chicory, lettuce and endive. And again, spinach, cabbage or savoy cabbage, always thinly sliced, cucumber, tomato, rocket, lamb’s lettuce or chicken, if you like, chives, dandelions and finally onion, always thinly cut and to be added at the end. All seasoned with salt, lemon and olive oil.
Cauliflower is also the main ingredient of many Sicilian dishes, including the famous pasta with “Arriminati” Broccoli.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Tips and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for information purposes only, they do not in any way represent a medical prescription; therefore, no responsibility is accepted for their use for healing, aesthetic or food purposes.



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