Cardone

Traditional cardone (we pronounced it car-doon-a), also called cardoon, is the stalk on which an artichoke grows. It’s a delicacy that’s only available in specialty Italian markets for a few weeks around Thanksgiving, and I’m betting it is expensive.

But, for my family, it grew wild right out in the yard in the spring and summer.

It’s a safe bet to assume that, when I was a child on our family farm in the 1950s, there were no Italian specialty markets nearby, and if there were, they probably didn’t have traditional cardone. As a matter of fact – I had no idea that there actually was a ‘traditional’ cardone that was not the plant I knew – until a couple of months ago. To me, and to my immediate family, cardone was the Italian name for burdock. Yep – that old roadside weed that makes those annoying, barbed burrs that stick to everything they touch, is none other than the cardone of my childhood. In fact we never called it burdock at all. It has always been, and always will be, cardone.

As luck would have it, there’s a fine patch of cardone growing right near my cabin. And it’s cardone season.

burdock

Cardone -Ok, burdock, is usually touted for its edible root. Oddly enough, I’ve never eaten the root and have no idea what it tastes like. When we cook cardone, we’re after the leaf stalks.

The leaves are huge, and the stalk resembles rhubarb. We cut it low to the ground, and remove the leaf, so only the stalk remains. The stalks must be thoroughly washed, and then parboiled. cardonnaprep1

The larger and older the leaves, the more likely they are to be slightly bitter. Parboiling removes the bitterness, and also prepares the stalks for the next step.

Once the stalks are washed and boiled, we let them cool, then dip them in a beaten egg with a little milk added. Next, they are dredged in seasoned breadcrumbs..

cardonna2

And then fried. I use olive oil, but you could also use any vegetable oil suitable for frying.

cardonna3

Since they are already parboiled, they won’t take too long to fry. Just long enough to brown nicely. Drain them on a paper towel and enjoy!

We made cardone as a side dish, right there with the mashed potatoes and corn and whatever else we were having for supper.

I’m not sure how my father came up with this replacement. I don’t think burdock plants grow in Sicily – maybe they do. Perhaps someone told him about them, or more likely, someone told my father that burdock was edible. Maybe he tasted the roots that someone prepared, and it reminded him of the traditional cardone, and so that is what he called it. My mother doesn’t remember either – to her, it’s just cardone.

Obviously, don’t try this unless you know what a burdock plant looks like!

Here’s a great resource: http://www.sacredearth.com/ethnobotany/foraging/Burdock.php

cardonn4.jpg

Mmmmmmm!  Life is Good!

About these ads

29 Responses to “Cardone”

  1. Ruth Says:

    What an interesting post! And I have bookmarked the link too. We have lost a lot of knowledge about the wild edibles that are available.

  2. melodymcfarland Says:

    Hi
    I just found your website and I love it. I am a nature nut/rehabber living in Japan. While I love Japan, I am from eastern PA and every single day long for the northeast forests. Seeing all the familiar birds and scenes on your website is a real treat for me.
    What I wanted to say with regard to burdock is that its roots are a popular food here in Japan. It’s called “gobo” and is prepared in a variety of ways but my favorites are either simmered in soy sauce and mirin or used in tempura.
    Melody

  3. felix campanotta Says:

    thanks for this information, a lot. but can i buy this plant or seeds?

    • Vallie Says:

      Yes the seeds and the plants (domestic) can be bought. They ship in the domestic Cardone to the Northeastern states Dec thru April. They grow wild May thru Aug.

  4. debra a Says:

    cardone is the stalk of the artichoke plant, not burdock.

    Gobo/burdock is a root. It has a dark brown bark or skin. It is sweet and is grated and sauteed with sesame seed oil and sometimes hijiki seedweed.

  5. Phyllis A from Easton PA Says:

    Nice article. My mother who’s 76, describe’s her childhood recolection of “cardoon” and it’s identical to obi4240’s article. Burdock I believe is similar. Gobo however cannot be the same. Sicily’s waters vs. Japan’s provide different nutrients making the cardoon indigenous to Siciliy. As far as being from the Northeast (from NE PA also), I’d have to say it does grow wild here. Our grandparents had picking seasons in the higher mountainous fields. Most of those fields are now housing so the life of our treasured “cardooni” may be on the verge of extinction.

  6. joe ciabattoni Says:

    Great information, my mother prepared these when I was growing up in Norristown, PA. Although she boiled, dipped in egg, then flour and fried (no bread crumb). They were excellent I’d love to have a dish right now. I agree that we likely ate Burdock as a substitution for the true Cardoon or Gaduna as it was called in broken English. My guess is that the “Greenes” (newly arriving immigrants) from Sicily discovered that these were an excellent budget conscience substitute. Thanks

    • Marie Says:

      Joe – my mom made Gaduna (as we called it also) every Thanksgiving. This past year was the first time in about 20 years that I was not able to get it and it really made me sad. I’ve ordered the seeds for it and have grown it myself but last year we had an early snowstorm and it killed my beloved Gaduna. I’m planting them again this year because even though Oceanmist grows it and sells it to supermarkets – it’s not a guarantee that they will have it. Last year no one did. I live in Lords Valley, Pa but grew up in Brooklyn, NY where the italian vegetable stores always had it, but there are no more Italian veggie stores, they’re all run by Asians now and they don’t sell them.

  7. GEORGETTE REYNOLDS Says:

    What a great find, this site is truely a great source of info. \
    My grand father “Frank Gatto”was from Naples,Italy. he spoke broken English, and when i was a small child,about 6 years old, @ 1968 I remember him going to the woods, The country (now Chicago suburbs), for the day and would bring home all kinds of things, The one I loved the most,and remember well was “Godunie”. with the broken English.
    Just rescently,my 92 year old father told me it was called”Burdock”..
    We ate the leaves,stuffed with a bread crumb type of mixture.
    Usually. young tender leaves.
    I am hoping to hear from others,on here of some of their uses. thank you for your replies,

    • Vallie Says:

      My Grandfather,Genaro Ferraraccio, would always have a pocket knife ready to pick cardones or dandelions. I make both for my Dad, Vincent. It reminds him of his childhood. They are a lot of work, but well worth it when I see the smile on his face.

  8. obi4240 Says:

    Thanks Georgette. We didn’t eat the leaves, just the stems. Isn’t that interesting….

  9. sophia Says:

    Iam originally from morocco, cardone or “kharchouf” in arabic is a very known. it is a vegetable that is very rich in fiber and iron. kharchouf is only available in the market about two months a year (oct-nov). mostly it’s cooked in the tajine like a stew with lamb or beef never with chicken.few people will use it steamed in a salad. Im writing this becase for the first time in 20 yrs that we’ve been in the US, and by coincidence we found cardone in a small veggies store outside orlando. yummmyyyyy :)

    • qwert Says:

      I’m Moroccan too. I always find “kharchouf” at stop&shop. I live in Boston. Well, not year around, but I can find it, I just bought it. That the reason I found your comment.
      I was just looking to read about its health benefits.
      sorry if I’m not giving you my name and my e-mail address.
      Well enjoy well you can, specialy if you make it with lamb, zitoun and hamed mraked.

    • Merav La Franca Says:

      It’s sold in Israel also. I love it. It’s available right now. My dad who is Sicilian taught me how to cook it. Yum.

  10. Todd Says:

    Good article! I was just picking some in the yard and decided to look up some recipes. I haven’t eaten them in a while, and miss them!

    When I was growing up, my relatives on my Dad’s side of the family used to cook these all the time, freezing some for winter meals. Fried is great, although my grandmother used to tell me that you could cook cardone in any of the ways you’d cook asparagus. I love it in a casserole with melted cheese in it! I’m thinking of adding it to my lasagna next time.

    My Mom’s side of the family didn’t care for it much. I remember hearing that they used to feed it to the pigs while in Italy. My Dad’s grandparents came from Sicily, and my Mom’s parents came from Furci, Italy.

    Once again, thanks for the nice article and for bringing back some fond memories!

  11. Todd Says:

    By the way…. I live in northern NY State and it grows wild everywhere. You just have to pick it before it starts to flower, which is when the stalks get very bitter. Summer hit us late this year. Usually the best time to pick is in May for our region.

  12. Bruce Says:

    So where can I buy some cardone seeds?

  13. RoseAnn Marchi Says:

    From Ocean Mist website!

  14. Anna Says:

    I am boiling some and decided to look Cardone up. What a find … I have eaten them the same way from birth. Now my kids eat them. At work I pick them and my co-workers laugh, they say Anna would eat anything with a little garlic and olive oil… Somewhat true haha thanks for posting your story and pictures.

    • bruce Says:

      Cardone, called pencas in Valencia (Spain), is also great in arroz con pollo al horno, a baked version of paella.

  15. John LaFalce Says:

    My family ate them (burdock) we parboiled them first then dipped in a beaten egg and the dredged in flour and pan fried in olive oil. I just bought some cardone in my local supermarket and it looked different from what I remember as a child. The stalks are bigger otherwise they look similar. They came with a tag that listed ocean mist farms http://www.oceanmist.com so I checked it out. The plant is related to the artichoke family and resembles the burdock plant so I assume that my ancestors must have mistaken this for what they picked in the old country. Both plants belong to the thistle family so their probably related and taste similar.

  16. Barbara Novelli LeDuc Says:

    My grandfather came to the United States via Ellis Island on October 28, 1904 from Fubine, Italy (northern). He worked in New York City for a couple years, then came to Connecticut and bought a farm. Cardoon was an annual crop. Here, the method of planting was to place seeds in mounded rows, leaving 4 feet between seeds. As the summer progressed, the plants grew three feet tall,with beautiful foliage and hefty stalks. In mid-September, we dug a trench, and carefully laid the cardoon over into the trench, so as not to tear up the root, and then backfilled the trench. During this underground curing, the cardoon bleached out and mellowed, and was lifted out of the soil by a forked spade. We had these as part of our antipasto with each holiday, right through New Years. We DID NOT cook them. We ate them raw (of course scrubed and cleaned, and soaked in lemon juice and water to prevent spotting and discoloration. We served them raw on platters with other vegetables (fennel, celery, bok choy, chinese cabbage, radishes, red and green pepper strips – anything, even raw cauliflower and broccoli. We had hot pots within reach of everyone at the table, which were for dunking your vegetables – in Fubine – maybe elsewhere in Italy also – this is known as Bagna Cauda…a combination of olive oil, garlic, butter and anchovies. Use a nice crusty homemade bread to wipe the oil on your chin. Oh, we now get cardoons from Oceanmist Farm thru an Italian market (D & D) in Hartford-they buy them at a market in Yonkers. Heavenly, just like when we were kids. You can serve different platters of veggies (pickled green tomatoes, marinated mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.) and sliced specialty Italian coldcuts and have this as a total meal. Of course, for the Holidays you have to have the seven courses – it takes all afternoon to complete the whole meal – dessert is later around 7:30 pm. Try it – you’ll love it. I have grown them from seed myself. I bought the seeds from New England Seed Co. (www.neseed.com) in 2009 – I bought lots of them because they are not readily easy to find. I keep the seeds in ziplock bags in the refrigerator – four years later, they are still germinating and growingbeautiful plants.

    • Ben Says:

      On the topic of seed: In the Midwest and Pacific Northwest (I can’t speak for other areas) burdock grows as a weed along forest edges. If you keep your eyes open in early summer for the large leaves of the plant, you can come back a month or two later to find plenty of seed. They’ll stick to clothes and pets, so you’ve probably handled them without even knowing. The only reason I’d order seed would be to get a specific character trait of a specific variety.

  17. Melissa Says:

    My aunt, who was raised in Northeast PA, as some of the previous posters mentioned as well, tells stories about using the Cardone from the yard, and this is exactly the plant she is referring to in her stories.

  18. Karen Says:

    It’s heartwarming to read your various thoughts and memories of “Cardoona”. I’m 67 and was raised in Watertown, NY where my maternal Sicilian grandparents lived. We grew up enjoying cardoona (the “c” was pronounced more like a “g”)–which was definitely wild burdock stalks. It was prepared either boiled until tender and served with salt, pepper and butter; or parboiled and dipped in egg batter and seasoned flour and sautéed. It’s so delicious, and has a sort of natural peppery taste.

    Another wonderful wild vegetable introduced by our Sicilian Italian grandparents and continued by my mother and aunts was “cicoria” (pronounced: che caw dia) which is dandelion greens. If dug in the early spring, it’s tender and mild and can be eaten as a fresh salad with Italian dressing. Both young tender cicoria as well as leaves from older plants can be boiled until tender (20 mins. +/-) and drained. Then sautéed with a little olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper; or patted with a paper towel to remove most of the wetness, sautéed in med-hot olive oil, then beaten eggs added and cooked (much like an omelet with sautéed green peppers or asparagus, etc.).

    We Italians have a rich history of traditions that we can and should record and carry on. I’m German and Italian and have wonderful memories and traditions from both sides of my heritage.

    • Marie Says:

      Hi Karen – my mom used to make the cicoria too! My son and my nieces all love it (me too) This is such a great site being able to read all about all the other people that have similar stories about these veggies. When I first posted here I thought I was the only one who knew about such plants. Cardoon is my favorite and we also pronounced it with a G Gidoona! Last year my son found it in a grocery store in Manhattan, NY in the LIttle Italy section and over nighted it to me. I cooked it the way my mom used to, first boiled then dipped in flour, egg and bread crumbs and then fried – YUMMY! I over nighted the cooked cardoon bake to him and we laughed about how much it cost for the postage but it was well worth it! I live in the Pocono mountains and I’m pretty sure I could probably find it growing right outside my door, I just wish I could find a really detailed picture of what it would look like in the wild so I’m sure to find the right thing.
      Marie

  19. obi4240 Says:

    Thanks to all who are leaving comments..I wrote this post so long ago I almost forgot about it :-). We also harvested cicoria, but I think my parents pronounced it a little differently. Pronunciations varied depending on where you lived, especially in the NY/NJ area. It seems those living closer to NY use the “G” sound more than the “C” – one that stands out is the difference in pronouncing cannoli. My family says “can-nol” and a friend’s family says “Ganule”

    Both are amazingly good and now I want one!

  20. Diane Pederson Says:

    It was interesting reading about the cardone (or) burdock that grows wild. My grandparents came from Italy & they grew the cardone from seed. I bought some seeds & planted it this year. But I can’t remember how my grandparents harvested it. I know closer to fall they would wrap the plant so only the top leaves shown. They wrapped it in paper feed sacks because the sacks had 3 or 4 layers of strong paper fairly tight, with string around the stocks. Guess this was to bleach the plants to look light green in color. How long they left them in the garden I don’t know. I would assume 2 to 3 weeks & then my mother would can them. We had them for Holidays & special dinners. My mother would fix them with the egg batter & fry them. They were delicious & never any left overs!!! I would love to know if someone could tell me how or if they wrapped their plants & for how long. I live in the state of Washgington.

    • Marie Says:

      Wow Diane its always great to hear from another person who actually know what cardoon (gidoona in my family) is – lol! My parents always bought them in a Brooklyn New York italian vegetable & fruit store. A few years ago I found an online catalog that actually sold the seeds and I did grow them myself. I’ve never heard about wrapping them up and hope that if someone else knows about this they would write to us and tell us the procedure. I’m growing them again this year (I now live in the Pocono Mt area of Pennsylvania) but they haven’t been doing very well because of the crazy weather we’ve been having. Even though it gets fairly warm during the day its been going down into the 40′;s at night. I do have some stalks and am hoping to have enough for Thanksgiving dinner. I boil the stalks first (they usually are pretty tough) and then put them in beaten egg and then breadcrumbs and then fry them. Its really a special treat for us. They probably grow wild somewhere in this area and are known by the name of Burdock but I have not been able to see an actual picture (Burdock is supposed to look a little different than the plants that I grow) so I don’t want to just go and pick something at random. Did your Mom boil them and then can them and then fry them when she wanted to serve them for dinner? Nice chatting with you and hope to hear from you again.
      Marie


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: