Chicory Plant

What You Want to Know About the Chicory Plant

The chicory plant is relatively new in America but it has been grown in Europe for more than 300 years.  The leaves of the chicory plant are generally used as a cooked green or raw in salads.  Other parts of the plant serve interesting purposes as well.  For example, the root of the chicory may be ground and used as coffee or as a coffee substitute.

When you go to the store to look for the chicory plant there are a few things that you should keep in mind.  First of all, the leaves of the plant should not have any bruises on it.  They should also be very tightly packed and be a bright color.  You want to make sure that they are not discolored in any way.  This is how you are going to know if it is in good condition.  Once you have selected your chicory plant and taken it home you will want to go through it very closely.  Take the time to look at all of the leaves and take out any that appear to be damaged.  Then you will wash all of the leaves in cold water.  Remove them and wrap them up in a paper towel.  If you are not going to be using them at that moment, you can place them into a plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator for up to three days.  You are going to want to store them in the crisper and you will want to keep them away from other fruits and vegetables.  This is because the other foods may release a gas that is going to cause the leaves to decay even faster.

If you are going to be using the root of the chicory plant you will want to scrub them very well in order to get all of the dirt and soil off of them.  You will then need to cut them into smaller pieces and grind them up. Once you have completed this task you can mix them with other coffees and prepare them as usual.

The leaves of the chicory plant do have a bitter flavor.  Because of this, if you are going to be using it in a salad, you are going to want to mix it with other leaves and types of lettuce.  This is going to help break up some of the bitter flavor that may be experienced.  Other than that, there is not much that needs to be done in order to prepare it for salad use.  You will simply need to break the leaves up into smaller pieces by hand and place them into the salad bowl.  You can then add vinaigrette to the salad mix.

You can grow the chicory plant in your own garden if you are interested.  It is often grown from a seed and most any type of soil will work well for it.  You can plant them in the fall in order to produce a crop that it is ready in the winter or you can wait until the early spring.  If you wait until the spring time you are going to find that the leaves are going to be ready in approximately 60 days.  As you prepare your garden area for the plant you will want to dig into the soil about one half inch.  You will also need to prepare enough room for roughly 15 seeds each foot.  You will need to leave about two feet between each row so that they have enough space to grow.

The chicory plant can add uniqueness to your salads and your coffee if you are interested in doing something different.  It is easy to grow and it has many uses.  People may be impressed with the different flavor that your coffee and salads have as you are experimenting with these leaves and roots.  If you have never had it before you may want to purchase some at the store to determine if you like it before you plant your own.