Curly endive is loosely headed with curly, ragged-edged leaves. The heart of the head is yellow and the outer leaves are green. It is usually used as a salad green, but in Europe it is used primarily as a cooked vegetable and in making soups. It is very crisp when fresh and has a rather bitter flavor. Curly endive usually sells at moderate prices. It is fairly perishable and should always be refrigerated.
Escarole is a flat-leafed cousin of curly chicory and has a similar bitter flavor. The leaves are thicker, flatter and greener, but it also has a yellow heart. It is also used in salads and as a cooked vegetable. Treat it and use it as you would curly chicory. Both chicory and escarole, when limp, can be revived in ice cold water.
Endive is a salad green and grows in any fertile, well- drained soil. Spring crops are planted in late March to mid-April. A late crop can be obtained from seed planted in July. Seeds may be started early indoors. Plant the seed 1/2 inch deep and thin to 8 to 12 inch spacings in rows 12 to 18 inches apart. Give transplants a starter solution, then sidedress with a complete fertilizer 2 to 3 weeks later. For best quality, endive needs to be blanched. When a good mass of leaves forms in the center of the plant, tie the outside leaves over the plant. The leaves are ready to eat when creamy white. Blanching takes longer in the fall. Blanching may also be done by covering the plant with a upside down flower pot. Plug the drainhole in the bottom of the pot. Plants tied up in wet weather may rot.
Harvest when the plant has been blanched sufficiently. The whole head is cut.
Bolting is caused by hot weather and is only a problem on endive.
Bitterness is caused by the lack of blanching and is only a problem on endive.