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Jul 7, 2005 09:46 PM

Rescue needed for aphids infested cauliflower

  • m

HELP! I am cooking dinner right now and when I went to clean my beautiful farm fresh organic cauliflower, there are hundreds of aphids or other tiny green bugs imbedded in the florets. I tried flushing them out, then I soaked the florets in salt water, then I pour salt directly on the florets and they seemed to be glued to the crevices. Does anyone out there have any suggestions?? Please! My alternative is to cook them and consider the bugs protein...I don't know about that one.

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  1. There should be a disclaimer on organic broccoli and cauliflower that warns of the un-vegetarian-ness of these vegetables. I once tried to resolve my disgust with the bugs by rationalizing that it is the lack of toxic pesticides that has enabled these vile creatures to grow healthy and strong on my beautiful produce, so I should similarly benefit. Didn't work. I don't want to eat aphids - organic or not.

    1. Try soaking the heads in oil for a few minutes to smother the insects and then wash with soapy water to remove them.

      3 Replies
      1. re: EAF
        Eldon Kreider

        Spraying with insecticidal soap is permitted for organic produce and is particularly effective against aphids. Spraying with castile soap is an old treatment for aphids. The soap messes up aphids' (and other soft-bodied insects) respiration. Therefore, washing with soap and water would be sufficient to kill the aphids. I have noticed that dead aphids stick tenaciously to lettuce, so they may not wash out from cauliflower real well.

        I can think of two reasons an organic grower might not use insecticidal soap on cauliflower. One, the soap solution must wet the insect pretty well, which poses obvious difficulty for aphids in a cauliflower head. Two, the insecticidal soap stinks and requires a lot of rinsing to get all traces off. The second is why I don't use insecticidal soap on my lettuce unless the aphid infestation is really bad. But then, we just grow for our own consumption.

        1. re: Eldon Kreider

          Is it ok to wash vegetables in soap? Wouldn't the soap saturate the food and leave a taste at the very least or be toxic? Just my ignorance! Thanks

          1. re: Margret
            Eldon Kreider

            Soap has an emetic effect but isn't toxic. In any case, you need to rinse anything with soap on it very thoroughly. Flavor can be affected. This is why I would rather have a few aphids in my lettuce than use soap spray. Soap won't penetrate vegetables with skin intact.

            Some people are sort of paranoid about pesticide residues and so routinely wash fruits and vegetables with soap and water. I am not one of them, but I would have a different attitude if I were in a part of the world where human excrement is used as fertilizer.

      2. capture a lady bug, put it & the cauliflower in a fine mesh bag & wait :-)

        1. Thank you all for your feedback. I had to to do something quick last night so I ended up blanching the florets in salt water for about 30 seconds and then rinsing them under running water, picking out the dead insects by hand. It worked but boy, was it a lot of work. The dish I was making had to be compromised a bit because there was no blanching involved. I'll try the oil method next time...if I have a lot of time..maybe the lady bug ;0). By the way, the flavor of just picked farm fresh cauliflower is so much sweeter than store bought! Margret

          1 Reply
          1. re: Margret
            babette feasts

            Or cheese sauce, lots and lots of cheese sauce!