When it comes to chicory, the ghosts divide: one is the vegetables too bitter, the other just love it for its tart taste. In any case, it is worth giving the light vegetables a chance, because it is rich in vitamins and minerals and has few calories. Chicory is harvested in winter and thus belongs to the fresh vegetable delicacies for the cold season.
The healthy ingredients of chicory
The chicory belongs to the daisy family. Many of the plant species of this family are known for their healing and flavor qualities, such as arnica and artichoke.
Chicory leaves are rich in valuable nutrients, such as:
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B2
- vitamin C
With a calorie content of just 17 kilocalories per 100 grams, the winter vegetables can also be eaten with a clear conscience.
Chicory: effect on digestion & Co.
The chicory sometimes owes its bitter taste to lactucopikrin (formerly called intybin). This bittering has a supporting effect on digestion: It stimulates the gallbladder and the pancreas. Both glands are responsible for the production of important hormones and enzymes that make it possible to absorb substances from food.
Bitter substances should also reduce blood sugar and analgesic.
In addition, the chicory is rich in fiber and the sugar inulin. These substances play a role in the prevention of intestinal diseases, such as colon cancer. Thanks to inulin, chicory in small quantities can also relieve bloating, for example. But beware: in too large doses, inulin can stimulate the activity of the intestine more than desired and thus in turn have a flatulent effect.
In addition, the bright leaves have a diuretic effect and play a role in the regulation of the acid-base balance. These properties make the chicory particularly suitable for rheumatics.
5 facts about chicory - © istockphoto, peter bocklandt
8 useful tips for storage and preparation
Chicory can be eaten raw, as well as cooking, frying or steaming vegetables. Here you will find helpful tips on the storage and preparation of chicory:
- If you do not like the bitter taste of chicory, you can cut out the stem in a wedge shape, as it contains the most bitter substances.
- If the leaves are too bitter, place them in lukewarm salted water or milk for a few minutes. So the bitter taste is tempered, but the healthy effect of the bitter substances can be lost.
- So that the bitter taste does not increase, the chicory should be kept dark and cool.
- If you store chicory wrapped in a damp kitchen towel in the fridge, it lasts about a week.
- Add a little lemon juice while steaming the leaves to keep them bright green!
- Did you know that you can use chicory to find out if a pan contains iron? Chicory turns black when fried in iron-coated pans.
- The chicory season runs from about October to April.
- Red chicory, a hybrid of red radicchio and white chicory, tastes milder, but is much rarer to find than white chicory. Since he loses his color while cooking, it is better to eat him raw.
Cooking with chicory: versatile and healthy
Even if you are - as so many Germans - so far not a great chicory fan: Thanks to a variety of preparation options is something for every taste. Be inspired by the many recipes and try out different options.
The white leaves taste particularly fresh and with a little fruit juice or honey in the dressing. So the bitter taste is naturally mitigated and the healthy substances are preserved. Chicory orange salad or chicory salad with tangerines are therefore popular classics.
But chicory is not only suitable for preparing fresh salads, but can also be filled as a finger food boat or fried in delicious vegetable pans used. Also for a casserole, the vegetables are excellent to use - just wrap some chicory with ham and gratinate it with cheese.
Worth knowing about chicory
Incidentally, it was not the leaves of Chicory that were considered to have a salutary effect, but the roots. The so-called chicory roots were considered:
- helpful for gastrointestinal complaints
- Promotes healing in diseases of bile, spleen and liver
In addition, the roots for the production of replacement coffee ("Muckefuck") were used - even today, the chicory is used for it.
The history of chicory leaves therefore starts quite late, probably in Belgium in the 19th century. Due to an unexpectedly rich harvest, farmers are said to have stored chicory roots in the dark greenhouse. After a while they found the bright buds of chicory. Since then, Belgian vegetables are particularly popular: Belgians consume on average nine kilograms of chicory per year.