Person Author: Lajos Szabo Calender August 28, 2012 Posted No Tags Comment No Comments

Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) is also known as artichoke thistle and is indeed a very close relative of the artichoke. It is a very attractive perennial plant and a really interesting feature in your kitchen garden or in the flower border too. The plants grow very tall, about 2 metres in ideal conditions. It is native to the Mediterranean and widely used there but not so much here in the UK. Cardoon was used more in Victorian times. Some resources say that you can eat the flower buds just like the artichokes but more traditional is to use the leaf stalks similar to celery. The flavour of the stalk resembles artichoke of course and really tasty with hollandaise sauce.

The best time to pick the leaf stalks is late winter – early spring just before the long flower stalks start to grow. Cook them in vegetable stock or braise them and serve with cheese sauce, delicious. Though high in sodium, cardoons are a good source of potassium, calcium and iron.

Not too many gardeners bother to use cardoon in the kitchen but it is a really good vegetable for the so called hungry gap. And a wonderful, tall plant; bees love the flowers and I love the silvery foliage during the summer months.

Cardoon is very easy to grow, just dig a deep hole where you want to plant your cardoon and add lots of manure. After the plant is established very little maintenance is required and they will thrive for years to come.

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