Escarole, Cornet de la Loire (Organic)
Cichorium endivia. 70 days.
Impressive, vigorous, and uniform, this escarole is great in spring and autumn. Firm, crunchy, juicy and sweet with a light nutty bitterness unique to escarole. Cornet type escaroles truly shine in late fall through early winter. When sown in late summer, Cornet de la Loire will head up and make a tight blanched heart which resembles sugarloaf chicory, or a stocky romaine lettuce heart. It is beautiful and tastes wonderful. When spring sown, it does not head up but instead produces wavy, bright-green leaves perfect for salad mix. Touted as an improved selection of Cornet de Anjou, Cornet de la Loire is certainly an excellent escarole. The Loire River valley is famous not only for its escarole, but also for its wine production. We acquired this variety through a fascinating relay-race-like journey from France to Italy, and maybe Canada, and then to Oregon. The whole story cannot be fully shared due to the intrigue involved. However, we want to thank Myrtha Zierock and Lane Selman for their crucial roles in helping us get this gem!
Sow indoors with good potting soil February through September. Transplant into the garden about 3-4 weeks after sprouting. In our region, endive can grow through the winter without protection, but is best sown in June or July for this purpose. Alternatively, direct sow March through August.
Collect seeds from 5 or more plants when seeds have dried down. Cut whole plants, place on tarp, dance and stomp to free the seeds. Collect seeds from tarp, winnow to clean. Isolate by 50′ from other Cichorium sp.