Thistles — a brief digest

A niche product from the province of Turin.

Grown exclusively in the province of Asti and in some areas of the province of Turin, the thistle is a perennial but annual crop, that can grow up to two meters in height.

The leaves are very developed, they are grayish green on the upper surface and whitish beneath, while the stem develops in the second year of life and brings a casing provided with bracts ending in a bit thorny. The flower, in the cultivated species, assume an intense blue color.

The cultivated varieties also have a considerable development of leaf petioles, which are the edible part and which aren't spiny, but there are also thorny and prickly varieties.

The thistle is a plant that has a very slowly development and it lays in the ground from spring to autumn, until the first frosts.To overcome this drawback, the sowing is often carried out in a seedbed and then using the technique of the transplant.

The thistle require earthing up, frequent watering and abundant nitrogen fertilizers. The growing technique involves either to put the land up to two thirds of the plant, or cover with straw or paper after proceeded to ligation.This prevents the formation of chlorophyll, as a result of the lack of light, and the edible parts are so white, tender, crisp and sweet.

The thistles that have a late ripening, are then collected in the winter months. They are frequently placed in pits, dug in advance, with the roots facing downwards and covered with dry sand.

The current thistle is native to southern Europe and the first reports on its use as a vegetable, is dating back to Imperial Rome.

Sources

percorsigastronomici.it

www.regione.piemonte.it

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