Cardoon (from the Latin word for thistle) is a plant from the globe artichoke family. Cardoon is native to the Mediterranean region, but it grows in Texas from the fall through the spring.
“Texas celery” is sometimes listed as a name variation for “cardoon,” but “Texas celery” appears only very rarely in print.
The cardoon (Cynara cardunculus), also called the artichoke thistle, cardone, cardoni, carduni or cardi, is a thistle-like plant which is member of the Aster family, Asteraceae; (or archaic: Daisy family, Compositae). It is a naturally occurring variant of the same species as the Globe artichoke, and has many cultivated varieties. It is native to the Mediterranean, where it was domesticated in ancient times.
The earliest description of the cardoon comes from the fourth century BCE Greek writer Theophrastus. The cardoon was popular in Greek and Roman cuisine. Cardoons remained popular in medieval and early modern Europe, and were common in the vegetable gardens of colonial America. They fell from fashion only in the late nineteenth century.
Cardoon stalks can be covered with small, nearly invisible spines that can cause substantial pain if they become lodged in the skin. Several “spineless” cultivars have been developed to overcome this but care in handling is recommended for all types.
While the flower buds can be eaten much as the artichoke, more often the stems are eaten after being braised in cooking liquid. Battered and fried, the stems are also traditionally served at St. Joseph’s altars in New Orleans.
The stalks, which look like large celery stalks, can be served steamed or braised. They have an artichoke-like flavor. Cardoons are available in the market only in the winter months. In the U.S.A., it is rarely found in stores, but available in farmers’ markets.
The main root can be boiled and served cold.
Cardoons are used as a vegetarian source of enzymes for cheese production. In Portugal, traditional coagulation of the curd relies entirely on this vegetable rennet. This results in cheeses such as the Nisa (D.O.P.), with a peculiar earthy, herbaceous and a slightly citric flavour that bears affinitty with full-body or fortified wines.
Cardoons are also an ingredient in one of the national dishes of Spain, the Cocido Madrileno, a slow-cooking, one-pot, meat and vegetable dinner simmered in broth, cardoons are traditional in the cocidos of Madrid.
Cardoon requires a long, cool growing season (ca. 5 months) but it is frost-sensitive. It also typically requires substantial growing space per plant and hence is not much grown save where it is a regional favorite.
The cardoon is highly invasive and is able to adapt to dry climates. It has become a major weed in the pampas of Argentina and California; it is also considered a weed in Australia.
Cardoon has attracted recent attention as a possible source of biodiesel. The oil, extracted from the seeds of the cardoon, and called artichoke oil, is similar to safflower and sunflower oil in composition and use.
Cardoons are a vegetable in the same family as artichokes.
The plant is perennial, with silverish green leaves and stalks, and can grow up to 7 feet (2 metres) tall. Most stalks are straight, but the curved ones are the most desired. The stalks look like celery, with the ridges on them. The ridges are sharper, though. “Razor-like” even, say people who think cardoon is the devil’s own weed. When the plant flowers, the blossom looks like a large purple thistle, 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7 1/2 cm) wide from spring to mid-summer. Occasionally, a plant will produce white blooms.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
Forms: 5 cardoun, 7-8 cardon, 7- cardoon. Also . 7-9 chardon, 8 chardoon. [a. 16th c. F. cardon cardoon, ad. It. cardone (or Sp. cardon) great thistle, teasel, cardoon, augm. of cardo:L. cardus, carduus thistle, cardoon, or artichoke. In origin, the same word as F. chardon thistle, the northern form of which, cardon, had appeared in ME. as CARDOUN.]
A composite plant (Cynara Cardunculus), closely allied to the Artichoke (see quot. 1845); a native of the south of Europe and north of Africa, and cultivated in kitchen-gardens, esp. on the continent, for the fleshy stalks of the inner leaves, which are made tender by blanching. (By Cotgrave applied also to the similar CARD of the Artichoke.)
The cardoon was prob. first cultivated in Northern France in the 16th or ? end of 15th) c.; it is mentioned by Parkinson (Paradisus 1629) under the name of Carduus esculentus (Edible Thistle), and is said in Treas. Bot. to have been first cultivated in England in 1656.
1611 COTGR., Means..spaces left for Cardoons betweene rowes of Onyons. Ibid., Cardons, Cardoones; the stalkes of Artichokes, or of the white thistle, buried in the ground, or otherwise vsed, to get them a whitenesse (excellent meat).
1640 PARKINSON Theat. Bot. 974 The Cretanes use their wilde Artichoke in the same manner that the Italians, Spaniards and French use their Cardui or Chardons.
1658 EVELYN Fr. Gard. (1675) 162 The Spanish chardons.
1796 C. MARSHALL Garden xx. (1813) 4 Blanch..endive, beet, and chardons by tying.
1845 DARWIN Voy. Nat. vi. (1873) 119 Botanists are now generally agreed that the cardoon and the artichoke are varieties of one plant.
1882 MRS. H. REEVE Cookery & Housek. xxv. 325 Cardoons, this excellent vegetable is little known in England.
Monterey County (CA) Weekly (January 8, 1998)
That Old Thistle
By Catherine Coburn
Everybody knows about Monterey County and artichokes.
“Artichoke?” I guess. “I told you so,” she laughs. “Well, it can’’t be deep-fried celery, can it?” I knew I was losing. “Ha!” she snorts. “You put anchovies in your marinara, didn’’t you?” I founder, dipping up a big glob of exquisite tomato sauce, her souped-up version with anchovies and capers, a master work that must surely be attributed to the rise of the Roman empire. “Well?” she chides. “All right, all right, I got it,” I’’m dead meat, I know, wickedly. “Tofu sticks.” She slaps my hand and screams some ancient Italian curse on my family crest. “Cardoon! Cardoon!” she wails. Onerously under-informed, I seek to redeem my place in the neighborhood.
“Monterey County has the distinction of being the largest grower of cardoons in all the United States,” says Pat Hopper of Ocean Mist Farms in Castroville. “We produce all of about 15 acres,” she laughs. “They come from the same family as lettuce and dandelions.”
Some food scholars maintain that the artichoke is really a cultivated cardoon. Everybody agrees that they’’re labor-intensive to prepare.
“Cardoon on the hoof is huge,” says Hopper. “It’’s a beautiful plant that can reach a height of seven feet and produces a big purple flower. With artichokes, it’’s the unopened flower buds that are consumed, though people in the know will peel back part of the stalk, and eat that, too. With cardoons, the stalk is the edible portion. Sometimes it’’s called ‘’Texas celery.’’ And it’’s your old-time Italian cooks that know how good it is and still go to the trouble of cooking it.”
Houston (TX) Chronicle
All about the artichoke-like cardoon
Feb. 24, 2008, 9:23AM
Cardoon, a relative of globe artichoke, forms a 4- to 6-foot clump of felted, deeply dissected silvery-green foliage.
Native to the Mediterranean and a member of the sunflower family, cardoon produces large, blue-purple thistlelike blooms in spring. It’s a perennial in its homeland, but here it grows fall through spring but is likely to bow out in summer.
Planting: Abundant sun; a fertile, well-draining soil; regular watering; and an occasional application of a balanced fertilizer promote strong growth. Transplants are available at some nurseries, usually in limited supplies from fall to late winter. Or start from fall-sown seeds in small pots of a well-draining potting medium. Germination usually occurs in less than two weeks. Allow seedlings to put on several inches of growth before transplanting to the garden.
Keep in mind that cardoon needs room to grow, so one or just a few plants will usually do in the home garden.
Cooking: Harvest tender shoots, scrape to remove any rough areas and cut into bite-size chunks. Parboil, batter and fry; cover with a tomato sauce; and dust with Parmesan cheese. Or marinate in a vinaigrette.
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Thursday, September 25, 2008 • Permalink