The endive was accidentally discovered by a Belgian farmer around 1830. At the time, chicory roots were used as a coffee substitute. The farmer stored them in a cellar, forgot about them and, when he came back to pick up the roots, discovered that they had sprouted white leaves. Curious, he ate some and found them to be tender, moist, crunchy and slightly bitter.
However, it is to the Belgian botanist Brézier that we owe endive as it is eaten today, who developed it from the original coffee chicory. The market stalls of the capital began to display this new vegetable in 1846, and it quickly became known as Brussels Endive however it was not until after the First World War that it started to be widely used.
Endive cultivation takes place in four stages:
In May, the chicory is sown and then in October the roots are pulled up, the leaves are cut down to 2 cm above the crown and the rootlets removed.
The roots are then forced, either in a cellar or in earth covered with straw, for 21 days to produce a very white, compact endive.
Finally the endive is broken off from the root and the outer leaves removed to produce a tight, firm head.
It is said that an infusion of Endive helps to maintain the digestive system's metabolic balance, detoxify the body, promote intestinal regularity, and strengthen the immune system.
It is also said to be a good diuretic, laxative and will even dissolve kidney stones!