There are different types of chicory, but one of the most striking is the red one. This has its leaves of a dark red color that attracts a lot of attention. So much so that one could almost say that it is curious that it is cultivated for its nutritional richness, and not for its ornamental value.
If you would like to know what are the characteristics and cultivation of red chicory, then we are going to explain what you have to know about this curious plant.
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Origin and characteristics of red chicory
Red chicory, also known as Italian chicory or radicchio, is a plant that belongs to the species Cichorium intybus. It is native to the Mediterranean, where it is known that the ancient Romans already cultivated it. Its characteristics are the same as green chicory, that is, that we are talking about a perennial herb, which can be up to 1 meter tall if allowed to grow freely, and which develops basal leaves of reddish color, spatula-shaped and somewhat fleshy.
Blooms in summer, more or less from July to September in the Northern Hemisphere. The flowers are grouped forming peduncular inflorescences. As for the fruit, this is an achene that has a crown with tiny seeds, about 0,5 centimeters in length.
What properties does radicchio have?
Red chicory it is very rich in anthocyanins, which are a type of flavonoids with antioxidant properties. In addition, it is believed that it helps improve sleep, so it may be interesting that, if you have trouble sleeping or insomnia, you include it in your diet.
Its nutritional value per 100 grams is as follows:
- 2.4g carbohydrates
- Fat 0.1
- Proteins 1
- Water 94g
- Retinol (vit. A) 1200μg
- Thiamine (vit. B1) 0.06mg
- Riboflavin (vit. B2) 0.12mg
- Niacin (vit. B3) 0.41mg
- Calcium 44mg
- Iron 1.4mg
- Magnesium 10mg
- Phosphorus 71mg
- Potassium 380mg
- Sodium 2mg
How is it consumed?
Red chicory it is eaten raw, for example in salads. Although yes: keep in mind that its taste is bitter. Also, it is important that you clean it beforehand with water to remove any dirt that it may have. In this way, you can taste it without problems.
Cultivation of red chicory
To grow red chicory we recommend that you take into account what we are going to explain to you now. So you can get a good harvest:
It needs sun to germinate and also to grow, so should be grown in a garden, or in a pot on a sunny patio or terrace. This is perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind about this plant, because if it were in the shade, its growth would be minimal.
Soil or substrate
- the garden: the land has to be fertile. In poor soils it will not be possible to get the harvest we expect, since it needs nutrients to grow.
- Flower pot: you can use substrate for urban garden (for sale here!) or mulch for example.
Watering must be frequent. You have to water about 4 times or more during the summerespecially if it is very hot and dry. In spring and autumn the frequency will be lower, between 1 and 2 times a week, but everything will depend on how our climate is, since the warmer it is and the less it rains, the more water the plant will need.
Throughout the season It will be very advisable to add some type of fertilizer, such as guano (for sale here!) or the earthworm humus for example. If it is potted, fertilizers that are in liquid form should be used so that the red chicory continues to grow without problems. Read the instructions for use before paying, so you know what dose to take without damaging it.
It multiplies by seeds in spring. The steps to follow are:
- First, you have to choose what to use as a seedbed: tray, flowerpot, yogurt and / or milk containers,… If you are going to use food containers, it is important that you wash them before with soap and water to prevent infections; also, you have to make a hole in the base.
- Then fill them with seedbed substrate (for sale here!).
- Next, you have to water everything well so that the substrate is well moistened.
- Then, take a maximum of two seeds and plant them in the seedbeds.
- Finally, cover them with a little substrate, and place a tray or plate without holes underneath.
Now you have to take the seedbed outside, where the sun hits it, and keep the substrate moist. In this way, the seeds will germinate in the course of ten to fifteen days.
The bleaching is done by depriving the leaves of light and thus managing to control the bitter taste they have. East consists of tying the leaves for example with a piece of cloth and leaving them like that for 20-30 days.
After that time, we remove the fabric and we will see that the lower leaves, which are the ones that have been deprived of sunlight, are white.
Collection and storage
Red chicory takes about 100 days to be ready for consumption from sowing. Once the bleaching is done, you can take it.
If you don't intend to consume it now, you can store it in the fridge for a week, in a zip-lock bag.
Where to buy red chicory?
Would you like to grow it? Then get seeds by clicking here: