Chico­ry — bit­ter and healthy

Chico­ry is not exact­ly the most pop­u­lar veg­etable among Ger­mans. This is due to its bit­ter taste. How­ev­er, it is pre­cise­ly this that makes the veg­etable so healthy. In addi­tion, because of the bit­ter taste, you can make sub­sti­tute cof­fee from the root chicory.

How­ev­er, the bit­ter sub­stances are not the only healthy thing about the leafy veg­etable. Chico­ry also con­tains many vit­a­mins and min­er­als. There­fore, it is def­i­nite­ly worth giv­ing the veg­etable a chance.

The ori­gin, prop­er­ties and his­to­ry of chicory

Nowa­days, when we think of chico­ry, we think direct­ly of the use of the leaves of the veg­etable. How­ev­er, this was not always the case. In the past, it was not the leaves that were used, but the roots of the veg­etable, also known as chico­ry roots. These were believed to have heal­ing prop­er­ties, as they were con­sid­ered sudorif­ic, appe­tiz­ing and lax­a­tive. Also, the root helped with gas­troin­testi­nal com­plaints and dis­eases of the gall blad­der, spleen and liv­er. Espe­cial­ly pop­u­lar was and is the use root for the prepa­ra­tion of sub­sti­tute cof­fee, also called muckefuck.

There­fore, the use­ful­ness of the leaves became known rel­a­tive­ly late. The dis­cov­ery of the buds of chico­ry can be traced back to the Bel­gians in the 19th cen­tu­ry. It is said that they had stored chico­ry roots in a dark green­house after a suc­cess­ful har­vest. So after a while they dis­cov­ered the buds, which are known to us today as chico­ry leaves.

The pale yel­low col­or of the veg­etable is due to its method of cul­ti­va­tion. For the bit­ter sub­stance inty­bin to form, it must be grown in the dark.

The veg­etable is now grown through­out Europe, but also in North Africa and the Ori­ent. The clas­sic pale yel­low chico­ry is in sea­son dur­ing the cold sea­sons and is there­fore a pop­u­lar win­ter veg­etable, tast­ing tart, sweet­ish and slight­ly bit­ter at the same time. The milder-tast­ing and red­dish chico­ry, on the oth­er hand, is in sea­son in spring. Basi­cal­ly, the main sea­son of both vari­eties can be nar­rowed down to Octo­ber to April.

The ingre­di­ents of chicory

The veg­etable is espe­cial­ly known by those who eat a low-carb diet. Because per 100 g there are just 16 kcal. In addi­tion, it has no fat. In addi­tion to the few car­bo­hy­drates and calo­ries, chico­ry also con­tains many vit­a­mins and min­er­als. Par­tic­u­lar­ly note­wor­thy are folic acid, potas­si­um, carotenoids and bit­ter substances.

The effect of chico­ry on our body

The win­ter veg­eta­bles con­tain many ingre­di­ents that have a pos­i­tive effect on our body. Espe­cial­ly the con­tained bit­ter sub­stance inty­bin influ­ences our body in sev­er­al ways. On the one hand, it pro­motes diges­tion and stim­u­lates the pro­duc­tion of gas­tric acid. It also improves the flow of bile, which is espe­cial­ly impor­tant for fat diges­tion. Oth­er pos­i­tive effects of bit­ter substances:

  • bit­ter sub­stances stim­u­late the appetite
  • pro­mote the flow of saliva
  • lead to increased insulin production
  • strength­en the immune system
  • have antipyret­ic effect
  • have an anti­de­pres­sant effect
  • can help with exhaus­tion, fatigue and stress

Chico­ry also con­tains fiber and the sug­ar inulin. Both ingre­di­ents can con­tribute to the pre­ven­tion of intesti­nal dis­eases, such as colon can­cer. The bright leaves, on the oth­er hand, can have a diuret­ic effect and there­fore play a role in reg­u­lat­ing the acid-bath balance.

Chico­ry in the kitchen

Like most veg­eta­bles, chico­ry can be pre­pared in var­i­ous ways. It can be boiled, fried, steamed or eat­en raw. How­ev­er, the most pop­u­lar way is to pre­pare the veg­etable into a sal­ad with a hon­ey or fruit juice dress­ing, such as chico­ry orange sal­ad or chico­ry sal­ad with tangerines.

To soft­en the bit­ter taste of chico­ry, you have two options:

  1. Cut out the stalk in a wedge shape. This is where most of the bit­ter sub­stances are found.
  2. Soak the leaves in luke­warm salt water or milk for a few min­utes. This soft­ens the bit­ter taste. How­ev­er, the healthy effect of the bit­ter sub­stances can also be lost.

Pur­chase and stor­age of chicory

Chico­ry is best bought as fresh as pos­si­ble. As with oth­er veg­eta­bles, you can tell when they are fresh by look­ing at the leaves. These should look fresh and crisp. How­ev­er, if you can­not pre­pare the veg­etable right away, it should be stored in a dark and cool place. Light can cause the chico­ry to dis­col­or and spoil more quick­ly. To pre­vent this, you can wrap it in a damp kitchen tow­el and store it in the veg­etable com­part­ment of the refrig­er­a­tor. Under opti­mal con­di­tions, it can be kept fresh for up to a week.

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