California Farms, Recipes, Salads

Endive Farming in Sacramento

This post is part 2 of a three-part series for the International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) I attended in Sacramento, CA. In exchange for a discounted ticket, I agreed to share my own personal experience about my time spent at IFBC on Spanglish Spoon. A huge Thank You goes to California Endive Farms for inviting us to their farm.

Touring California Endive Farms was the star excursion for me during the International Food Blogger Conference. It was there that I learned how to properly say this confusingly spelled and pronounced word. Most people, including myself, always see it and read it as it is spelled, but the true pronunciation sounds more like on-deev, not en-dive. We can thank our awesome tour guide and founder of the largest Endive farm in America, Mr. Rich Collins, for teaching us the correct pronunciation. His love and passion for this delicate crop poured out of him like a proud father.

California Endive Farm Tour 2016

The fascinating part about growing endive is that it goes through two growth stages before it is harvested.

California Endive Farm Tour 2016

Chicory seeds are sown in the spring to produce a chicory root the size of a large carrot by fall.

Those roots are harvested from the field, then either frozen for a later production date, or placed in dark, humid, “forcing” rooms to produce the endive.

California Endive Farm Tour 2016In the image above, a worker removes any excess leaves that have sprouted out of the chicory root in preparation for the second stage, which is the process of growing the actual endive.

Oh, and here’s a fun fact that was news to me! The chicory root is also used in coffee! It gets roasted, ground, then brewed with coffee. I’ve never seen coffee like that on any menu, but from what I learned on this endive excursion is that it’s still popular in Louisiana.

California Endive Farm Tour 2016When back in the dark rooms, the roots are lined up against each other and placed on shallow racks in a dark, humid room where they will live for the next 4 weeks.

I thought about sharing a different picture of what the inside of the rooms look like with more light, but I like this one better because it gives you a better sense of how dark the room was, as well as how high the trays were stacked. There was a little bit of light coming from someone else’s phone just a few feet from me when I took the picture above.

Plus, Mr. Collins brought a few of them into the culinary fair to display, which gave us a way better picture of what they look like out of the trays. I’m so glad he did that!

California Endive Farm Tour 2016

The California Endive website has a great slideshow of this process from seed to Endive. If you’re interested in watching that slideshow, click here.

So tell me, have you had an endive before? I have to be honest and say that until this past weekend I have never tried one. We had the privilege of being served two different endive salads after the tour. My favorite was the cooked endive, so I made my own version at home. I’ll share it later here. It’s super easy!

Until then, stay safe! 😉

Related recipe: Sautéed Belgian Endive Halves