Asda cauliflower grower Tom Simmons explains why his family’s cliffside farm in Cornwall is a fantastic place to grow delicious cauliflowers
Winter Cornish cauliflowers are some of the best you can get! They’re heavy with a lovely white centre and nicely wrapped with the leaves and lovely and fresh.
Cornwall is the only place in the UK you can grow cauliflowers all year round because of the warmer temperatures in winter. You don’t get the frost because Cornwall is surrounded by sea.
We plant a lot of our winter cauliflower along the North coast of Cornwall closest to the sea so that they don’t get attacked by frost.
Cauliflowers are the hardest brassica to grow because they’re massively affected by temperature. Just a couple of degrees can make them grow better or kill them off. And when you’re harvesting the cauliflowers you have to be careful not to knock the white curd as it can bruise easily.
Some of the fields we grow cauliflowers on are small and quite steep – quite different to some of the big and flat fields, where they can't harvest cauliflowers in the depths of winter.
We harvest half a million cauliflowers a week and we select and harvest everything by hand. We’ve been supplying cauliflowers into Asda directly and indirectly for over 20 years. Cauliflowers that are cut today will be in store within three days. In the winter we supply to the whole of the UK.
At peak in the summer we have around 450 people working here. We plant the cauliflowers in June and July and each variety comes in at a different time. We start harvesting in October through to April. In the winter cauliflowers are heavier with more leaves wrapped around the white cauliflower curd to protect it from the winter cold. In the summer cauliflowers are a bit lighter and a bit more open.
Cauliflower is very trendy at the moment – particularly with things like cauliflower rice and cauliflower pizza bases which is good news for us! Personally I like a classic cauliflower cheese.
The farm dates back to around 1870 and has been in our family for six generations. My dad is still involved in the running of the business – he’s a fifth generation farmer and now I’m involved too on the procurement side.
We’re proud to be a Cornish family company. Cornwall is the best place to grow cauliflowers – and they’ve certainly got the best view!