|The Herb Farm|
|Try Fried Cardoons for an Interesting Treat|
Lately I have been experimenting with foods I have tasted when dining at folks’ homes in other countries. I have always taken pride in growing most of the non-meat products I eat. One such food easily grown here in Alabama is cardoon (Cynara cardunculus).
Cardoons are in the Aster family (Asteraceae) and bear a strong resemblance to thistle in the sense they have purple flowers, native finches enjoy the seeds and, if left uncontrolled, can be invasive. Much like its cousins, artichokes and Jerusalem artichokes, cardoons have a culinary value more staple than unique.
The plants can grow up to eight feet tall, but can be kept trimmed considerably shorter by harvesting the stalks as needed for dinner.
I harvest the stalks and keep them in a pitcher of water in the refrigerator along with the celery. In fact, the best way to prepare the stalks for cooking is to treat them like celery. Remove the leaves and stems, then use a paring knife or vegetable peeler to remove the outer skin. I then like to soak my cardoons in a flat container of water with a little salt.
Cut the cardoon stalks into two to four inch pieces then soak for 30 to 40 minutes in a buttermilk and egg pre-batter dip. When they are ready to cook, roll the soaked cardoons into a flour mixture with your favorite seasonings.
Fry the cardoons in a light vegetable oil at 370° until golden brown and the cardoon can be easily pierced with a sharp knife.
Cardoons are a great source of dietary fiber and carbohydrates. They also have considerable amounts of potassium, magnesium and phosphorous; vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9 and C; calcium, iron and zinc. All of that with protein practically makes cardoon its own food group!
Try your fried cardoons with your favorite sour cream dressing or plain yogurt with lime juice. I’m sure your friends and family will enjoy this dish and they’ll brag about it for years too! (Unless they find their own cardoons to cook.)
Caution: Be careful with the spines on the leaves and stems as they can be rather pokey.
E-mail me if you have any questions about cardoons or where to buy the herbs or seeds to grow your own.
Thanks for reading!
If you have any questions about other uses for cardoons, email me at