Castelfranco Chicory

Cichorium intybus


200 seeds
VALUE SIZE: 2 g (approx 1,000 seeds)
Certified Organic

70 days. Chicory is coveted by top-end chefs, especially in the Pacific Northwest, where its cold hardiness lends itself to wintertime local production. We have been experimenting with hoophouse production here in Michigan and have found Castelfranco to be extremely hardy. This variety survived the 2014 polar vortex in our unheated hoophouse. Castelfranco forms a gorgeous loose head similar in form to looseleaf lettuce heads. Edible leaves are green with red speckles and are similar in texture to looseleaf lettuce. The flavor profile is similar to Radicchio and Endive (which are also types of Chicory). Italian in origin, Chicory has a bitter yet complex flavor, one to which American palettes are only beginning to gain exposure to. Castelfranco can be served raw in lettuce salads to add an interesting contrast to otherwise mild flavors. The bitterness of chicory adds delicious flavor complexity to cooked dishes. It is a common ingredient in Italian risottos. Braising, broiling or grilling really brings out Castelefranco's sweetness. Pairing it with salt and/or sour flavor tames the bitterness. We like it browned in the broiler, brushed with olive oil and salt. Soaking in ice water can also remove bitterness. Chicory is a cool-loving crop and should be grown in the fall. Great for coldframes and hoophouses (see Growing Instructions). Baby greens can be harvested in an unheated hoophouse all winter long. Like most non-hybrid chicories, Castelfranco exhibits natural variation in size and color. WGS

Chicory is a cool weather loving plant – so grow it in the fall. For heads: sow seeds July 1, 1/8” deep into containers placed in a coolish location (at 75° - seeds won’t germinate at temps over 86°). Days to germination: 7-10. Plant spacing: 12”. For baby leaf: sow seeds in garden soil Sept. 1st, 1/8” deep. Baby leaves are very cold hardy and will survive to about 0° if protected by a hoophouse.