Last week I was walking the dog in Victoria Park London and I stumbled into a beautiful violet-blue flowering plant. Long leggy stems and dandelion type leaves concentrated at the bottom, with quite a delicate flowers. Thinking I should learn what it was I took a photo then promptly forgot to look up what it was until I walked by it again today! Now I know that delicate pretty blue-violet flower is Chicory!
(🎧 Psst if you prefer to listen not read there is an audio reading of this blog post scroll to the bottom) 😃
What is Chicory?
Chicory (Cichorium intybus) it’s commonly known as – blue daisy or blue dandelion.
Chicory is a perennial herbaceous plant of the dandelion family. It flowers from July through to October, has delicate violet-blue flowers with up to 20 petals per bloom, with rigid stems which are only hairy near the base. The leaves grow low down and they are similar to Dandelion leaves.
Chicory has been used by people for over 5,000 years. First recorded in China then ancient Egypt and the Romans loved it too to eat and for its antioxidant health benefits.
Can you eat wild Chicory?!
YES! You can eat Chicory flowers, leaves, stems and the root!
Chicory Petals I tried them and TBH can’t really taste much, maybe a little bitter, they look VERY pretty sprinkled on things like cakes, salads, smoothies and porridge.
Young Chicory leaves can be eaten raw and are a great addition to salads The leaves are very bitter, but healthy as bitter herbs have a cleansing action on the liver. You can also cook them like spinach, which makes them less bitter.
Chicory root is edible, its rich in inulin, a great source of fiber and rich in prebiotics. It been added to coffee as far back as the 17th century. Today it is often roasted then used to make a caffeine free coffee alternative!
Foraging wild Chicory
As with all foraging only pick and eat what you know is safe and please do so considerately and get permission if you need to. Make sure you source plants than grow away from roads to avoid pollution. Only take what you need personally for that day (ie. not an industrial amount!).
If you want to forage Chicory try to take flowers from multiple plants so you can leave some on each plant, the same with the leaves. If you go for the root do so late season, it likes to grow in compact ground so it’s quite hard to remove it by hand, if you do forage the root you should only do so where you have permission. If some root gets left behind that could be beneficial to the future growth of the plant.
Health benefits of Chicory
There are considered to be many health benefits of Chicory. It has many active ingredients including beta-carotene, calcium, manganese, zinc, folic acid, iron, potassium, and vitamins A, B 6, C, E, and K. The roots are high in inulin which is considered a natural prebiotic. (Learn more about the roots and how to roast them here)
The root is believed to be anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and sedative, and it considered to help to:
- Reduce swelling
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower blood sugar levels
- Boost immune
- Easing inflammatory – arthritis
- Reduce bad cholesterol
- Boosts healthy gut bacteria
- Helps with bone health
Try Chicory Coffee –
by Blue Daisy LDN
I first heard about Chicory coffee when I got chatting with awesome Emily who sells it from Blue Daisy – Her Pavement Pâtisserie 🍰☕️ a mobile café that Emily crowd funded, designed and had custom built in a Tuktuk van 🚙! They are stationed in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, Mile End, East London – OPEN every THU-SUN from 8am – 4pm so you can try her Chicory coffee and chat to her about its health benefits.
“Try our speciality: naturally caffeine-free chicory coffees, made from the ground roots of the chicory plant, our favourite flower, namesake and allround inspiration”
Emily – BLUE DAISY LDN
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