My Years with Cardoons

Experiements in my cold valley so far have not been kind to the plush, famously edible thistles like cardoon and artichoke. Some of my clients are in better positions, and so far have enjoyed lovely silver fountains of leaves and gorgeous purple flowers off this wonderful plant. The question now is how to cook it (?). Wooddogs3 to the rescue with a very detailed description of the process. Let me know how it goes.

My urban homestead


It took me a long time to learn to eat cardoons. My own cardoons, at least. I first found them in the market while honeymooning in Italy, and there they are neatly blanched, trimmed, and ready for the pot. I loved them, and ordered seeds from Italy as soon as I got home. They grow robustly in my desert climate and alkaline soil, and they are very ornamental. I had them for years before I successfully cooked them, and they were wonderful bee fodder all that time, blooming in the blasting-hot late summer when few other flowers are available to our pollinators. I tried to cook them without the tedious step of blanching the plants, and would say that this just doesn’t work.


They die back unattractively after flowering, but then sprout again from the ground up. The foliage is silvery, full, and stunning in November. Unfortunately this is also…

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  1. Thanks for the reblog! I hope that some of your readers who can bow them find them worthwhile in the kitchen. After all, they are loaded with silymarin. But if not, grow them for the bees and hummingbirds.


    1. You’re most welcome for the reblog. Thank you for writing such a wondeful post! My clients did have an eye for saving back some of the flowers for the bees this year. One plant still hasn’t bloomed, waitng for next year. I suppose it’s working up a really big show.



  2. WOW I had no idea about the stalks being edible. I have a cool picture I have been meaning to send that shows the neighbors yard full of frost and ours completely frost free!


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