Cardoon - Artichoke Thistle
A friend of mine asked me to try and get her some Artichoke Thistle. Apparently it grows out west here. I just had to look in to this familiar yet totally unheard of to me plant.
I first went to wikipedia...and found it was called Cardoon. It is a member of the aster family and it is native to the Mediterranean, where it was domesticated in ancient times.
While the flower buds can be eaten much as the artichoke, more often the stems are eaten after being braised in cooking liquid.
Another use for Cardoons is as a vegetarian source of enzymes for cheese production. Half Pint Farm seems happy about that! Here is a blog entry all about making cheese with Cardoon from The Cheeselover.
Growing the plants takes about 5 months and they are frost sensitive.
It sounds to be a hearty and rough plant otherwise yet they take up a bit of space. Here are some growing and eating tips from Gardening-Guy.com
If you are looking to start your plants from seeds, Terrior Seeds LLC has what you need. I just love their slogan, Home of the Underwood Gardens. Sounds like they have a large selection of heirloom seeds and ways to build soil and save seeds!
And finally for the budding gourmet, here is a blog from a Tuscan kitchen with a recipe and adventure in cooking with Cardoon.