The plants greens when sliced finely and mixed through mashed potato while still raw is pretty much their version of champ and give a lovely fresh bite to otherwise plain mash.
It also gives a very nice, slightly bitter garnish to contrast with sweeter veg like carrots or parsnips, and gives a great dash of colour to winter lentils or stews.
Another recipe for use with forced chicons can be seen here for later in the year.
|Winter Puy lentils with Endive & nasturtium greens and marigold & nasturtium petals|
My favorite version of endive is the forced winter Chicon. The technique for growing chicon, or blanched endives was apparently accidentally discovered in the 1850s in Belgium when according to one story a few pots with roots were left down a coal mine and grew the famous white chicon.
Another story says that in 1830 Jan Lammers returned from the Belgian War of Independence to his farm near Brussels, where he had stored chicory roots in his cellar while he was away, intending to dry and roast them and use as a coffee substitute.
But his chicory roots, resting for months in the dark, damp environment, had achieved a different result. They had sprouted small white leaves. Curious, he tried the leaves and found them to be tender, moist, and crunchy, with a pleasant, slightly bitter taste. Thus, a new vegetable was discovered — winter endive, or chicon.
Already this year I have had at least three cuts of greens from the plants, and now its time to force them for the witloof, a Belgian variety for which I found the seeds for Witloof from highly recommended Irish based company Gardenplansbypost.com - And they were not all that easy to source.
The main thing that is required is the total lack of light when forcing, otherwise the winter endive will go green and be bitter.
I grew the greens as a catch crop, like spinach or radish, between slower growing plants like leek, parsnip or cabbage.
After the last harvest I lifted the roots. It is said that they should be grown indoors, but with the mild climate we have on the west coast and a bit of insulation they can grow outdoors here.
After that the roots are watered with a general fertilizer, or in my case, a nettle and seaweed tea. Smells not so good but it feeds, and in my opinion, puts off parasites as well.
Add to that a dose of organic slug pellets from the Irish Seed Savers Association. The great advantage of course is that being covered and protected from direct rain means that the pellets only need the one application for the season.
At this point I start covering them with old pots. With winter coming it also makes a good, accidental storage space and with the system I use adds extra protection against light ingress.
Next thing I do personally, because of the weather here, is over lay a fish box. This helps to further exclude light and will give the chicons extra winter protection against frost, snow, storms and ice.
I hope you found this posting of use, and please do take the time to comment or leave feedback - I really appreciate it