Wild chicory, how to recognize it and how to use it in the kitchen. Seeds and lots of useful tips.
On this page we will see how the wild chicory that grows spontaneously, when it is harvested, how it is cooked and what are its properties and benefits. In summer it produces flowers that open in the morning and follow the sun. There will be advice for the cultivation of wild chicory.
Wild chicory, where to find it
There wild chicory, a herbaceous plant belonging to the asteraceae family, grows in dry places and, a bit like nettle, on the side of roads, near low walls, in uncultivated land and on embankments.
Is called wild chicory because it is different from the cultivated species deriving from a Mediterranean type from which endive salads, curly chicory, radicchio and all the escaroles. The only thing that the wild chicory and the domestic chicory they have in common is the bitter taste which is more pronounced in that wild. It is the bitter taste that makes the wild chicory particularly appreciated.
Wild chicory, how to recognize it
There wild chicory (it can also be called common chicory) has a large tap root, rough stems, long and jagged leaves and during flowering (from July to September) it produces blue / purple flowers.
When is it collected? It depends on whether you want to use the roots, leaves or seeds. The roots of wild chicory as mentioned above, the leaves (including the flowers) are harvested shortly before flowering in early July and the seeds in late September.
Wild chicory in the kitchen, recipes and advice
Therewild chicoryit is very popular in Ligurian cuisine, in Apulian cuisine and in Campania. Not only that, in India, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, chicory coffee is very popular, once known even in Italy.
With the roots of wild chicory, which are harvested in autumn, you can prepare that substitute for coffee that our grandparents know well, a very dark-colored coffee that was used when there was nothing else.
The roots of wild chicory to make chicory coffee, they are dried in the sun, or in a drying oven, after cutting them lengthwise. Only after drying can they be ground and used to prepare the classic coffee.
In the kitchen, the leaves of wild chicory they are usually eaten blanched and sautéed in a pan with a drizzle of oil and a clove of garlic, which can be an excellent basic preparation for filling cakes and savory tarts.
With the leaves you can also make an excellent risotto as with radicchio (in herbal medicine the wild chicory is also called radicchio, the domestic radicchio, in fact, is nothing more than a careful selection of chicory).
The bitter taste of chicory it goes very well with soft and semi-aged cheeses. It can also be used for the preparation of rustic or stuffed pizzas.
Chicory seeds can be used for the preparation of infusions and decoctions, or stored in a paper bag (even for years) to make a small plantation of wild chicory in dry and deep soil (it can be sown all year round).
Wild chicory, properties and benefits
For the ancients, who knew it well, the wild chicory it had healing powers for the liver and gallbladder and was a tonic for the digestive system, with purifying properties. With roots, leaves, flowers and seeds of wild chicory you can prepare infusions and decoctions, but also packs against skin diseases such as boils and eczema that can be caused by a malfunction of the liver.
100 grams of chicory provide only 23 calories. This vegetable is rich in vitamin A, beta carotene, lutein, B vitamins, folic acid, Vitamin E, vitamin K and vitamin C. It also contains calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, manganese and is very rich in potassium .
A diet that includes chicory is also helpful in fighting free radicals.
How to grow wild chicory
There wild chicory it's easy to cultivate. The speciesCichorium intybusbetter known ascommon chicoryorwild chicory, is native to Asia and Europe, so it grows very well in our climate.
Sowing, in a protected environment, is possible throughout the year. You can sow common chicory on soft and moist soil. For outdoor sowing, you will have to wait when outside temperatures see average around 20-25 ° C. If you sow indoors, in a protected environment, you can continue with planting between April (in the south) and May (in the north). Chicory is resistant to cold and does not need special protection.
Chicory seeds, where to find them
Wild chicory seeds are not easy to find on the market. You can contact agricultural consortia or take advantage of online trading.
For cutting chicory, I refer you to"This Amazon page".
For wild chicory, I invite you to choose the highly germinating seeds you find at "This Page". They can be bought on Amazon at a price of 7.20 euros with shipping costs included in the price.
Chicory or dandelion
Although the leaves are very similar, the dandelion is a different plant and has yellow flowers. For more information: dandelion in the kitchen.
You may also be interested in the related article:
- Escarole: properties and cultivation