|Experimental Endive Batch|
These Endives (Belgian, I believe) were started out in the garden this fall. They grew willy-nilly all winter and had become some large, almost Napa Cabbage-like plants by the time we visited them again. With a crew of five, we gently (though quickly) forked them up to reveal a huge (often 12" long) underground tuber root. We knocked off the dirt and trimmed the tops down to the above shown nubbins. Repeat times two double rows.
Once we hauled the trimmed tubers back up to the house, we set about loading pots with sand, jamming as many Endives in as possible, and loosely filling in the gaps with more sand. Moisten pot and repeat. The pots then go into a light-proof room for 6 weeks or so. I was kinda confused about this process and the whole Endive/Chicory thing, so I found more info here. In a nutshell, it seems that you let the plant build a huge energy-storing tuber out in the garden, trim off the original green bitter leaves, and place it in the dark to re-sprout. The leaves that then come up in the dark will be white(r) and therefore much less bitter. The roots can be dried, roasted, and ground to produce Chicory, which is a poor people's coffee additive... hence the New Orleans coffee tie-in. Side note: If you've never had Chicory in your coffee, you have never lived one day in your life ever. Just sayin. I think at least one of us is going to give the home Chicory production a try. We'll see how it goes!