What is Chicory? How to Use Chicory

Chiccory, Succory, Suckery FR: Chicoree

GER: Chicorie, Indivia, Hindlauf, Wegeleuchte, Wegwarte

IT: Cicoria, Radicchio

SP: Achicoria

BOT: Chicorium intybus

FAM: Compositae


FR: Chicoree endive GER: Endivie IT: lndivia or Endivia SP: Endibia

BOT: Chicorium endivia FAM: Compositae

What is Chicory? How to Use Chicory Photo Gallery

Chicory is native to Europe, including Britain, and is commonly naturalized as a weed in North America. It has sky-blue flowers and is common on calcareous soils. The wild and unblanched plant is exceedingly bitter, but its use is ancient in Europe. Today there are many interesting horticultural varieties, the best known being the tight ‘peg’ of white leaves forced in the dark and known as witloof or endive de Bruxelles. But there are other varieties with a completely different appearance, for instance, the decorative pink and red salad plants known as cicoria di Treviso (chicoree de Trevise), popular in Italy and Switzerland.

Chicory leaves give to salads that touch of bitterness which many people like. The large tap root of some varieties is grown to flavour coffee (Fr: chicoree a cafe). The origin of the use of chicory in coffee is variously given as Sicily in 1769 and Holland circa 1800. It seems that it was first used as an adulterant. In 1832 it was forbidden by law in England but, as some liked the flavour, in 1840 it was once more allowed – provided it was properly labelled – which is as it should be.

For coffee, the tap roots are dug, washed, cut into pieces and dried in gentle heat. They are then broken into nibs and roasted. Naturally, there is variation in quality. The best is not very bitter. Such chicory has a caramel taste derived from the sugar in the roots and a characteristic flavour.

Endive is popularly called ‘chicory’ in the United States and chicoree in France, but endives in England. It is a very close relation to chicory and has been a popular salad plant in Europe for many centuries. In many countries the names are thoroughly confused.


See Pepper, red.

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