Thursday, 6 August 2009

Growing Endive

As part of our drive to reduce our food bill we have been growing vegetables. Looking towards winter, I decided to experiment with over-wintering crops - leeks, cabbages and endive.

Endive (or Chicorée) is a strange thing: a bitter, cabbage like vegetable you don't cook in a saucepan (unless I am completely wrong). Growing it is strange too: according to the packet I have to grow it until October/November, dig it up, cut of its bottom and top, stick it in a box and grow for another 6 months in the dark(ish)

Growing instructions for chicorée
If I had read the instructions before buying the seeds I might not have bought them. This seems a really weird way of growing stuff and we may not have somewhere to do the forcing bit over winter (15 degrees?? that could be tropical compared to last winter!) . Add to that the fact we have never cooked endive, only ever eaten it in restaurants - and even then I'm not sure I actually liked it - and you can see the issues mounting up. And where do I buy a forcing box?

I figure that while I am trying to find out if I am any good as a gardener or even enjoy gardening I have to do these experiments. You never know - I might find out what it is I am good at!


PS - if anyone has an easier way of growing endive, or good recipes for people who don't really do bitter (i.e. me) any suggestions will be welcomed.


Katarina said...

Hi Simon, endive is eaten a lot in northern France, in Lille region, and they love to prepare it baked with ham and bechamel sauce. Personnaly, I eat it only in winter salads, with walnuts, vinaigrette and sometimes tomatoes. If you don't use the bottom of the plant, it's not really bitter.

Ken Broadhurst said...

Simon, on my blog I have two topics about making endives wrapped in ham and cooked in a cheese sauce. Walt and I both really like endive and other bitter greens. You have to embrace the bitterness!

The first blog topic is about cooking the endives. As usual with me, you have to do a lot of reading to get to the meat (as it were) of the matter, but it's there. And then the second topic is about making the cheese sauce and baking the ham-wrapped, already-cooked endives.

Good luck growing them. If you are successful, maybe you'll tell me how to do it.

Ken Broadhurst said...

Also, fish fillets with endives, and endives with lardons.

Alan said...

Sounds like a place I used to work when we had late-autumn staff reviews. Quick slap on the bottom in November and then kept in the dark for the next 6 months!

Carolyn said...

Add some rolled oats to the cooking water when you're cooking bitter greens. It sweetens them just a little.

The Beaver said...


you may get some ideas here:

or this one:

I eat them either in salads or baked and I will add them sometimes to stirfries or soups if i have a couple of leftover raw endives in the fridge .

ladybird said...

Simon, I may be able to help you out as Belgian endives are a local specialty where I live. However, it’s too complicated and long to explain in the comments’ section of your blog. I will therefore send you an e-mail with growing and cooking tips. If you want, you can share them with other readers in a later post.

One thing though ... NEVER, but really NEVER cook them in water !!! Braise them slowely in some butter and flavour them with a little salt, pepper and ... grated nutmeg! Martine

Jean said...

I don't think I have ever knowingly eaten endives. I shall pay more attention in future.

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