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My Crazy Cardoon - Can I can, freeze or ferment it?!

 
pollinator
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Location: Vancouver, Washington
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I am growing cardoon for the first time this year.  I had never eaten cardoon before but missed the window for planting artichokes and found this close relative, so I planted it from seed in the spring.  It took a while to get going (or for me to learn what I was doing) but now my cardoon are crazy monsters! I've harvested stalks from them a number of times and they are so tasty!  I really love this plant.  Problem is, we can't eat all of this in the short term.  And it's needing harvesting.  Does anyone have any experience with canning, pickling, freezing or fermenting cardoon? I tried looking on the internet for advice on preserving cardoon but it seems this is not a popular plant in the U.S. Then I thought of you all.  This lovely tasty perennial that doesn't go to market well may be a plant permies know and love? (I am not planning to take up the entire plant, by the way, as it's a perennial here, so I am just planning to take the stalks.)  

As a thank you for any cardoon lover out there who can offer up some sage advice, I offer my cardoon recipe:

Gratineed Cardoon and Chickpeas

4 large stalks cardoon
1 pint size jar canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp. butter
fine sea salt
garlic powder
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
parmesan cheese

Deleaf, pare and rinse cardoon.  Cut large pieces through the middle and cut all of it into 4" sections.  Put it immediately into water as soon as you cut it as it discolors quickly. Bring to a boil then simmer for 40 minutes.  Drain.  Put in a 9X11 baking dish and add 1 tbsp butter, mixing the cardoon to coat it with the butter.  Arrange cardoon in a row down the middle.  Add chickpeas to the sides.  Sprinkle the cardoon with sea salt, and sprinkle all of it with the garlic powder, pepper, then some olive oil, and finally grated parmesan cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes then broil for 5 minutes to brown the cheese.
IMG_1588.jpg
cardoon growing in raised beds
 
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Did you get any replies? What is your climate zone? This is my first time to find this website. The other cardoon prep thing I found said to boil in 5 changes of brine to get rid og the bitterness. They taste like …salt.
Has anyone reported Deep mulch or bringing roots/crowns  inside to winter over? I am zone 3b i think. The map says 5a but  it gets to -30 every winter.
My grandmother told me her mother always harvested her celery then brought the plants in and brought them out of the cellar one at a time to force  for fresh celery all winter. This would have been South Dakota over 100 years ago.  I doubt she ever heard of cardoon but would have been entranced.
 
Jen Swanson
pollinator
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Hi, Bella. I never did receive any replies. Apparently cardoon is not very popular. I am zone 8a and it overwinters here fine. It never even dies back in the winter but, once the cold hits, the stalks get woody and bitter. I've found that it's best eaten when the stalks are young and more tender.
I've never had to do water changes or add lemon to the water to remove bitterness. I do simmer them for close to an hour however to get them tender. I also peel the outer side off to remove the stringy parts. This makes them more tender as well.
I don't know about overwintering them in your area but I bet you could follow the same guidance as you would for artichokes, to whom they are a very close relative. The plants, and their roots, do get huge though! My variety grows over 10' tall when in bloom.
Since they are best eaten young, you may be able to grow them as an annual, as long as you start them real early in a warm location.
I love the celery idea. Very cool (no pun intended).
 
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Hi Bella,


Welcome to Permies.
 
gardener
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Bella Gentry wrote:Did you get any replies? What is your climate zone? This is my first time to find this website. The other cardoon prep thing I found said to boil in 5 changes of brine to get rid og the bitterness. They taste like …salt.
Has anyone reported Deep mulch or bringing roots/crowns  inside to winter over? I am zone 3b i think. The map says 5a but  it gets to -30 every winter.
My grandmother told me her mother always harvested her celery then brought the plants in and brought them out of the cellar one at a time to force  for fresh celery all winter. This would have been South Dakota over 100 years ago.  I doubt she ever heard of cardoon but would have been entranced.


I never thought to bring celery indoors. A little fresh celery would be nice in the winter, along with my other herbs.

I have never tried cardoons but my kids love artichokes. I always heard you have to blanch them by covering the stems which sounds like too much work for me. Is that actually not necessary?
 
Jen Swanson
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I don't blanch the stems. I tried it once. I used cardboard. It was really hard because the plants get so big and the inside of the cardboard became infected with earwigs and sowbugs. So yuck. I'd advocate just eating them young instead when they are much more tender.  
 
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To those of you considering blanching your cardoons. Don't bother. It isn't necessary. Many people parboil them, which diminishes the bitterness. I like them bitter, and just chop and braise them as is. Just make sure there are no leaf bits on the stems, that's the seriously bitter portion. Of course, this is a cold weather vegetable, so they aren't at the peak of bitterness.
I'm going to try fermenting them.
 
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