Chicory - Stay Healthy Throughout Winter

What chicory is lacking in colour, it’s gaining in goodness. The pale shoots that sprout from the root in complete darkness are rich in vitamins and minerals and low in calories. Chicory is therefore the ideal vegetable for dieting. Because of its healthy contents it should end up in many more dishes – it contains vitamin B1, B2 and C, as well as nutrients like potassium, calcium and phosphorous. Eating chicory raw is the best way to absorb the most nutrients but if steamed or cooked, the taste becomes milder.

 

Food Facts Food Facts

Chicory

Class

Cichorium

Calories

16 kcal per 100 g

Nutrients

2.3g carbohydrate, 1.3g fibre, 0.2g fat, 1.3g protein per 100g

Season

from October to April

Storage

cool, dry place, otherwise the leaves turn green and develop a bitter taste

Shelf life

max. one week after purchasing

Chicory – From Belgium With Love

Chicory, also known in the U.S. as endives, is a cultivated form of Cichorium, a genus of plants within the dandelion tribe which is grown in Europe, North Africa and Central Asia. The pale shoots of the chicory root were discovered in Belgium in the 19th century.

Since then, the low-calorie chicory has been especially popular in Belgium. Belgians eat on average 9kg of chicory per year, much more than the 1kg yearly average of the Swiss. 97% of the world’s chicory is produced in Belgium, France and the Netherlands.

Chicory season is in winter and between the months of September and November the chicory root is harvested and a large part of the leaves are removed. The roots are chilled for two weeks before they are stored tightly side by side and upright in a box. In a completely dark greenhouse, it takes about 20-25 days until the thick buds (approx. 20cm long and 5cm thick) are easy to separate from the root. This is a method of growing chicory without earth coverage.

Chicory – Packed With Healthy Bitterness

As well as lots of vitamins and nutrients, chicory contains a bitter substance called lactucopicrin, also known as intybin, which creates the bitter taste as well as helping with digestion. Plentiful in fibre and inulin, a powerful probiotic, the vegetable helps against intestinal disease. It is a diuretic and has been proven to regulate the acid balance within the body. Chicory can be enjoyed in large quantities with a good conscience as it has a low calorie content.

Chicory – Mild if Prepared the Right Way

When buying chicory, make sure that it feels heavy and firm and that the leaves are tight. It must be stored away from light in the supermarket to prevent the spread of Chlorophyll, the green pigment that creates the bitter taste. At home, chicory is best stored in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator and wrapped in a damp cloth so that it stays fresher for longer. It should be eaten within seven days but with every day it loses some of its good nutrients.

If you’re finding the taste of chicory too bitter, cut out the stalk in the centre as it holds most of the bitterness. A few minutes in warm salt water or milk will also extract some of the bitterness but unfortunately this method will extract some of the nutrients too. If eating the vegetable raw in a salad, it will have a harsher taste to it. Dressings with some fruit juice, for example orange juice, and honey will ensure a milder taste. If chicory turns black when roasted, this is due to a chemical reaction with the iron coating on the tray.

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Chicory Recipes

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