Chicory is a perennial that forms long, stick-like stems and ragged, widely spaced bunches of leaves, sometimes in tight heads or in loose formations. The outer leaves may be green, white, or red, depending on variety, and have a strong, slightly bitter taste. The inner leaves are usually paler in color and milder in flavor.The two basic types of chicory, forcing and nonforcing, are distinguished by their method of cultivation. The forcing chicories are initially sown outdoors, but because exposure to light tends to create a bitter taste, the plants are transferred to a dark area (a process called blanching) for the latter half of their growth. As a
result, forcing chicories have a milder flavor. The most common forcing varieties are the Witloof chicory, sometimes called Belgian endive, and the red-leaf radicchio, an Italian chicory that is becoming increasingly popular in the United States.
blanching. These varieties are grown like
lettuce, without forcing. The Italian
radichetta, more common in North
America than in Europe, has narrow leaves
that grow on wide stalks and are cooked
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