Forcing Chicory – Success!

It’s been a long process but I finally have some blanched Chicory to show you. My, somewhat Herculean effort, started back in November when I lifted the Chicory plants I had been growing during last summer.

Then I stored them in damp sand (sometimes a little too damp) over the worst of the winter weather.

After this I planted them into deep buckets, put a pot over the top to block out the light and put them in a frost free and dark shed. There they have been happily growing (albeit painfully slowly) until now.

I harvested the Chicory today as the leaves were starting to fan out instead of stay tight. I was a little worried that the tips of the leaves were too yellow but brought them in anyway. Once washed and dressed I needn’t have worried about the yellow leaves as they were the best tasting part. They were absolutely devine. A complex taste really. Totally fresh and dewey with a hint of that Chicory bitterness towards the base of the leaf.

I liked it. We all liked it. I think I would have to dedicate a bigger patch of the garden to growing Chicory and fill more pots in the shed to make the enterprise worth while. As it was all my work ended in one lunch. The effort far outweighed the end product.

But… this is true of a lot of kitchen gardening. Mostly, for me anyway, it’s about the experience of growing something unusual and tasting something as nature intended, at its freshest possible moment. I think I’ve achieved both my goals here. And I’m already planning where I will sow this year’s batch of Chicory.

7 Comments on “Forcing Chicory – Success!

  1. I’m impressed, I’ve always thought about growing but t looked like too much hard work. (although I have got some sea kale in at the moment to try forcing that next year).

  2. Wow, I’m impressed. It looks fantastic and sounds as if it was absolutely delicious. Your Herculean effort paid dividends.

  3. Well done you!!! Isn’t it great when a plan comes together? Enjoy… lol x

  4. In the U.S., this is sold and eaten as Belgian endive! For us, chicory is green and very curly (but ‘way milder than kale) and is also delicious blanched and dressed with olive oil and lemon. (Xorta, to the Greeks).

    Endive is a minimum of $2.50/lb. on the east coast. Often blanched and dressed, of course, but my family wants it up front in a romaine/dill/watercress/scallion salad, so we know just where our money’s gone….

    Lovely picture, and Well Done!

  5. Chicory is extremely good news on the care front. It requires no care whatsoever once the seedlings have established. If you want to blanch the leaves (make them whiter rather than greener) then simply tie a piece of string round the leaves, drawing them together slightly. This will prevent light form reaching many of the inner leaves thus blanching them. This works best with radicchio and sugarloaf types of chicory. The best time to blanch is about ten days before you to harvest the leaves.