Endive, Green Curled 'Ruffec’ is a very old Italian variety that produces fine frilly leaves with pale, creamy centres. Succulent and delicious, as the plants grow you can harvest the outer leaves leaving the centre to continue to grow.
They are, like all the chicory-endive-escarole tribe, much cold-hardier than lettuces.Good for salad mix when small or left to grow to maturity. Eaten green, the leaves are a little bitter, but blanched for a few days they develop a milder taste. If you want the creamy white centre to develop and have been continually harvesting leaves, halfway through its growth you may need to tie up some of the leaves bringing them toward the centre to get the desired blanching effect. If you grow the plants closer together, at around 20cm (8in) apart, the plants tend to grow upright and self-blanch.
This cut and come again type for winter does well in cold tunnel or frame. Sow from March to August to harvest as an autumn and winter crop and repeat at fortnightly intervals for succession.
Sowing: Sow March to August
Seeds can be started early indoors or can be sown directly where they are to grow. They are usually sown in mid May to harvest in summer and sown again in mid July for an autumn harvest. To harvest as young 'salad leaves' sow the seeds more thickly, they can be sown indoors throughout the year or outdoors in May to August
Sow into compost rich, moist soil and position it in an area where it will get at least six hours of sun a day. Endive is happy to be grown on raised beds or in containers, as curly endive hates to get too wet.
Germination 15 days at temperatures of around 15°C. The first heads should be ready for use in about 10 to 12 weeks from sowing.
Sowing Indoors: March to July
Seeds can be sown into trays, peat pots or modules from March to July. Sow one seed per module about 1cm (½in) deep and transplant about 4 to 5 weeks later when plants are 10 to 15cm (4 to 6in) tall, at 25cm square spacing.
Before transplanting young chicory, water copiously. Make a pilot hole with a piece of wood to slide the roots without bending and gently tamp the soil around the roots. Keep the plants moist at all times. If it is hot and dry, shade the salads with a jute cloth or similar.
Sowing Direct: May to August.
Make sure that the danger of frost has passed before sowing. Sow thinly direct into growing site, into very finely prepared soil. Sow in rows about 12mm (1in) deep and 25cm (8in) between rows. Cover the seeds lightly with soil. Early sowings will be more successful if sown under cloches.
As the seedling develops thin out to 25cm (8in) apart. Water deeply after sowing and after transplanting.
Endive must be carefully protected from sun damage, which will turn the plant the rich green of a lettuce and make it woody and bitter.
Although a number of varieties are self blanching, farmers have a variety of techniques for keeping the centre of the green tender and white, or blanched, for market. As the plant nears maturity, tie the leaves together or cover the centre of the plant to protect the tender inside from sun damage, or cover the plant or by placing a 25cm (10in) size pot over the plants and blocking the drainage hole to exclude light.
Once blanched the hearts will deteriorate in quality, so blanching should be carried out to fit in with harvesting requirements.
Harvest:: July to October.
When growing, endive resembles lettuce, with a loosely arranged head of curled leaves around a central stalk that is harvested once. It can be harvested like other lettuces, with a sharp knife close to the base.
Young leaves can be harvested for baby leaf salads when young after just 6 weeks, or left to grow to maturity and harvested after 10 to 12 weeks.
Give the crop a little protection when winter approaches and you will have a good chance of enjoying the leaves until Christmas
It can be stored under refrigeration for approximately five days in a ventilated bag.
When cooking with endive, always tear it rather than using a knife. Like other greens, it should be washed before consumption. Remember that the inner leaves are the most tender and can be used in more abundance than the tougher outer leaves.
The bitter flavour profile of endive have long been popular in Italian cuisine and are the focal point of many Italian dishes such as minestra maritata and straciatella soup.
Late in the season, let a few plants go to seeds. The bright blue flowers are beautiful and are extremely attractive to bees and other pollinating insect.
Endive is thought to have originated in the Eastern Mediterranean, a cultivated subspecies of Cichoium pumilum which is native to Turkey and western Syria, which was then renamed C. endivia subsp. divaricatum,
Endive was cultivated by the ancient Egyptians and grown by the Greeks and Romans to be used in salads. It was considered both a medicinal plant and a food to be eaten with oil in salads, before the fourteenth century, after which time they became more common as food.
In the late fifteenth century, the Veneto region of northern Italy became a centre for the growing of varieties of endive. By the sixteenth century various kinds of endive are mentioned frequently in literature.
The varieties of chicory are often named after the regions where they originate.
Endive belongs to the chicory genus, which includes several similar bitter leafed vegetables. Species include endive (Cichorium endivia), Cichorium pumilum, and common chicory (Cichorium intybus). Common chicory includes chicory types such as radicchio, puntarelle, and Belgian endive.
There are two main varieties of cultivated endive:
- Curly endive, or frisée (Cichorium endivia var crispum). This type has narrow, green, curly outer leaves. It is sometimes called chicory in the United States and is called chicorée frisée in France. Further confusion results from the fact that frisée also refers to a cooking technique in which greens are lightly wilted with oil.
- Escarole, or broad-leaved endive (Cichorium endivia var latifolia) has broad, pale green leaves and is less bitter than the other varieties. Varieties or names include Broad-leaved endive, Bavarian endive, Batavian endive, Grumolo, Scarola, and Scarole. It is eaten like other greens, sautéed, chopped into soups and stews, or as part of a green salad.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 2 grams Average Seed Count 1,500 Seeds Seed Form Natural Seeds per gram 750 seeds per gram Common Name Curly endive Other Common Names Batavian endive, grumolo, scarola, and scarole. Family Asteraceae Genus Cichorium Species endivia var latifolia Cultivar Ruffec Hardiness Hardy Annual Time to Sow Sow March to August Germination 15 days at temperatures of around 15°C. Harvest July to October. Time to Harvest Yound leaves after just 6 weeks, or 10 to 12 weeks to maturity.