Endive Facts

Endive Facts
Endive is leafy vegetable and cool-season crop that belongs to the aster family. It originates from Asia Minor, but it can be found around Europe and North America today. Endive grows on the fertile, well-drained soil, exposed to the full sun or in the partial shade. Plants of best quality are produced in areas with cool summers (high temperature stimulates production of bitter compounds in the leaves). Endive has been important part of diet of ancient Romans, Greeks and Egyptians and it is still very popular and commonly used in Europe.
Interesting Endive Facts:
Most types of endive can reach 6 to 10 inches in height (rarely up to 24 inches).
Variety of endive called escarole has central head with smooth, upright, wide and flat, green leaves with serrated edges and thick leaf stalks.
Variety of endive called frisee has curly leaves that are much narrower compared with leaves of escarole. Both types of endive are chewier than lettuce.
Belgian endive has smooth, cream-colored leaves densely packed in torpedo-shaped heads.
Belgian farmer has "discovered" Belgian endive in 1830 when he found that roots of chicory can sprout and produce creamy-colored leafy heads when stored in wet, dark conditions. Even though this "new" plant is only a variety of common chicory, it soon became popular as new type of vegetables called "white gold", better known as "witloof" today.
Unlike Belgian endive, endive is cultivated in the rows in the fields, just like lettuce.
Endive produces pale blue flowers on top of the flowering stem. Flowers contain both types of reproductive organs (perfect flowers).
Endive blooms during the summer. Flowers attract bees that are responsible for the pollination of this plant.
Endive propagates via seed.
Endive is good source of vitamins A, K and vitamins of the B group and minerals such as manganese, copper, iron and potassium.
Endive has crunchy texture and robust, slightly bitter flavor. Leaves in the center have sweetish taste. Endive can be used for the preparation of salads, soups, stir-fries, curry or it can be cooked and consumed like spinach. Endive can be also mixed with other vegetables and used for the preparation of healthy juices.
Covering of endive with baskets, boxes or pots during a period of 2 to 4 weeks (process called blanching) is used to reduce amount of bitter compounds in the leaves.
Endive can prevent cataract, macular degeneration, anemia and development of certain types of cancer. It also aids digestion and improves function of liver and gallbladder.
Kaempferol, substance found in endive, has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, analgesic and anti-allergic properties. It also acts beneficially on the cardiovascular and nervous systems.
Endive can be cultivated as annual (life span: one year) or biennial plant (life span: 2 years).

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