|Curly Endive (Right) and Radicchio (Left)|
In my garden Endives don't do well in hot or dry weather. They tend to bolt very rapidly, without producing any useable leaves. But in the cooler months they do a lot better. Just like lettuces, different varieties are bred for different conditions, and choosing the right type can be of crucial importance. Unfortunately, Endives are not particularly popular in the UK, and you seldom see them for sale in the shops, so if you like eating them you have to grow them yourself. Our seed suppliers also tend to offer a very small selection of types and it is not always possible to get the seed you really want. I have found that one of the best places to buy Endives is Seeds of Italy (who have a wide selection, and supply their seeds in much bigger quantities than the other suppliers - typically thousands in each packet). I also look out for suitable seeds to buy whenever we visit France, where Endive is much more popular.
In my garden at present I have several different varieties growing. Regrettably I don't really remember which one is which. I always (foolishly) think that I'll remember, but I never do. They all look very similar at the seedling stage too!
I can tell you that this one is a broad-leaved (Scarole) type - possibly "Cornet de Bordeaux"?
This one is a curly type, possibly "Frisee de Meaux"?
And here are some others together growing in a large pot.
Growing them closely-spaced like this keeps them small, which suits us well. One small Endive feeds the two of us quite comfortably but avoids having left-over salad hanging around in the fridge.
With Summer-grown Endives I normally blanch them to make them sweeter, but I seldom do this with Winter-grown ones. The real reason for this is because the blanching process does tend to promote fungal diseases and I find that due to the long blanching time required in Winter the Endives often go slimy before they are ready. Never mind, if you don't enjoy the slightly bitter flavour of unblanched Endive, you can always make a honey-based salad-dressing!
I find that the Endive plants are highly photogenic too. What do you think of these close-ups?
Actually, they are not genuine close-ups at all, but zoomed and cropped images from the preceding photos. Which reminds me why I have set my heart on the acquisition of a Macro lens for my camera. [Actually it's already on order, so watch this space...]