Endive is particularly rich in vitamin K, which is essential for several proteins that make blood clot. (The name K comes from the German word koagulation.) If blood does not clot, wounds bleed out of control. Vitamin K plays an important role in bone formation. Many foods contain vitamin K, and a deficiency is rare. Endive is also a good source of vitamin A, folate and fiber. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble antioxidant that clears destructive free radicals and helps maintain healthy epithelial tissue around blood vessels and organs such as the liver and stomach. Folate protects blood vessel walls from early damage that can lead to stroke and heart attack. Folate converts the molecule homocysteine into harmless molecules used for other purposes. Folate also helps with cell growth and normal fetal development, making it essential during pregnancy. It also aids digestion by stimulating alkaline bile, which may help balance intestinal pH like a mild antacid.
Vitamin and Mineral Content
Vitamins – K, A, B9 (Folate), C and B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Minerals – Manganese, Potassium and Iron
Endive may reduce the risk of anemia and cancer in the rectum, skin and bladder. It may also help ward off atherosclerosis or other cardiovascular disease. Due to its alkaline nature, endive can reduce minor symptoms of heartburn or acid indigestion.
How to Grow
Endive is a salad vegetable great for late summer or early fall harvest (winter in warmer climates). Flavor is bitter like chicory and can be tough if not cared for properly. Choose a partly shaded site to prevent excess bitterness and running to seed too soon. Prefers rich medium loam soil that holds moisture well with a pH near 6.5. Work in highly fertile compost or planting mix a couple weeks before sowing. For a fall and/or winter harvest, sow in midsummer and/or late summer, respectively. Place seeds in shallow drills roughly 1 foot apart. Direct sowing is the best way to plant, since transplanting causes endive to run to seed quickly. Keep soil moist and weed as needed to keep beds free of competition. The most-recently-sown rows may need cloche covers in cooler climates to prevent cold damage. About 12 weeks after sowing, blanch the endive to create a more delicate flavor. Do this by placing flowerpots over them. Cover the pothole in the bottom to block sunlight. Leave as is for a few weeks. Ready to harvest when hearts are a light creamy color.
Generally pest free. If you get an infestation of anything, ask your local nursery what might cause problems in your area.
Toss mixed greens, sliced pear, candied walnuts, gorgonzola cheese and raspberry vinaigrette with endive for a tasty dinner appetizer.