A Weird & Wonderful delicacy !
About the size of a chess piece the crosne is a well known delicacy in France.
You can use a crosne in the same way as a potato – fry it, bake it, roast it. Or you can eat it raw added to a salad, grate it on dishes…..
If you want to know how to grow crosne then the first item to realis is that it’s got lots and lots of different names (Japanese potato, Chinese ground pear, Stachy…) – in taste it’s a bit like a combination of cauliflower, artichoke and salsify (which tastes a bit like oysters).
It gets even better, they are very easy to grow and once you’ve planted them they are self perpetuating and you will be able to harvest them every year after that.
What is a Crosne ?
It is named after a town 18 km south of Paris, where it was first harvested on a large scale in Europe. Originally from China (where it grows wild) it was first grown in Crosne in the 1880, and given it’s latin name (Stachys sieboldi) by the German-Dutch botanist and japanese expert Philip Franz von Siebold.
If you want to see what they look like (before trying them in your allotment or vegetable garden) you should be able to get some in either a Chinese or Japanese speciality food shop.
Crosne used to be available in old fashioned pharmacies – (as it is part of the mint family) it is still used for help with colds.
How to grow Crosne..
A crosne will grow in full sun as well as semi-shade. Plant them from mid October to April.
They will prefer a light, sandy soil.
Plant a tuber 10 cm deep and 20 cm apart, and the plant will grow to about 50 cm high.
They are frost hardy but you will need to keep watering them, as they don’t like dry conditions.
They will spread so try to grow them in a container or contained bedding like the one from Harrod Horticultural (shown right)
Don’t let the crosne plants flower, but when they reach about 30 cm in height keep cutting them – so they direct all their energy to growing the roots. A crosne will grow in full sun as well as semi
How to harvest..
Harvest is usually from October onwards – and you will know when they are ready as the ground will begin to break. (They grow quite shallow)
Gently dig them out with a fork – don’t worry about missing some as they will grow for next years crop.
- How to prepare crosne
- Where to buy crosne seeds