What is Chicory Root?
Chicory Root is an annual plant that grows from 3 to 5 feet tall and has blue flowers. The roots of the chicory plant are harvested as a natural coffee substitute and alternative to coffee beans. Chicory root contains Inulin, a type of soluble fiber, which helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels and also promotes digestive health. Many people use ground chicory root as a replacement for or in addition to coffee beans. It is naturally gluten-free and can be found easily at a local grocery store or online at Divine Organic Tea.
Chicory Root as a Coffee Substitute
Coffee has been cultivated for centuries in the tropical climates of Africa and Asia as far back as 800 BC. In fact, coffee was discovered when an Ethiopian shepherd observed his goats eat red berries from a particular bush and then became stimulated to the point that they didn't seem to want to sleep at night. He brought some of these seeds back with him and planted them near his home. Soon other shepherds began bringing their sheep and cattle to graze on this unusual berry plant at night because it seemed to make them frisky too! The Arabs brewed a drink from its fruit pulp but found the grape-like seeds unpalatable so they roasted them instead which made them release aromatic oils that made for a great beverage.
Chicory Root Tea Recipe
Add one teaspoon of roasted chicory root (grind it in a coffee grinder, if you must) to eight ounces of boiling water. Allow this mixture to steep for about ten minutes and then strain out the grounds. Add some sugar or honey and enjoy! For those who like enhancements, you can blend chai spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves into your chicory tea base for added flavor.
Ingredients: Chicory Root, Honey, Sugar
Servings: 1 Serving Size: 1 Cup
Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 35 Minutes * If you don't like black coffee substitute with roasted dandelion root. Also served hot with cream and brown sugar!
How can I Eat Chicory Root as a tasty dish?
Chicory root can be eaten raw once you peel off its tough outer layer or it can be grated into salads or cooked and mashed like potatoes.
You can also roast the root in a pan over an open fire like marshmallows to make a tasty treat called Chicory Coffee.
Due to its earthy, bitter flavor, you will want to try mixing chicory root with sweeter-tasting vegetables like carrots, zucchini, or butternut squash before using it alone in recipes. A little goes a long way so use only what you need to get the right taste without overpowering other flavors within your meal preparation. When buying chicory roots look for firm, clean roots that are 1 or 2 inches in diameter.
Primary types of organic Chicory Root Extracts
There are three primary types of organic Chicory Root Extracts:
- 2nd Generation (G2) – Has a 98%+ purity level and has been decolorized and deodorized. It also contains no additives, preservatives, fillers, or any other artificial ingredients. The active ingredient is called Inulin.
- 1st Generation (G1) – This organic Chicory Root Extract has not been decolorized and still has its crude fiber intact which gives it a brownish coloration as opposed to the lighter color of G2. The addition of this type of Chicory Root increases your dietary fiber intake as well as adding additional nutritional benefits.
- Decolorized (De-colorized) – This type of organic Chicory Root Extract has been decolorized and deodorized similar to G2 but it also contains additives, fillers, and preservatives that assist in adding color and flavor back into the root which is what gives it its greenish coloration. Due to these additions, G3 is less pure than G2. The taste will be altered significantly when combining this type of Chicory Root Extract with the other two types mentioned above.
There are also several other varieties on the market made from corn, carrots, and Jerusalem artichokes but they all function in a similar fashion to Chicory Root which is why it's important to make sure you get only 100% Organic Chicory Root Extracts that have been decolorized without taking away any vital nutrients. Look for products that are Non-GMO ingredients with no additives, fillers, or preservatives added. Some supplements can be found in capsule form while others come in powder form.
Where are the biggest areas of Chicory Root's growth?
Belgium is the number one producer of Chicory Root in Europe followed by Holland. Other sources of organic chicory root include France, Germany, Spain, and Italy. They are also found growing naturally in North America but not at significant levels to meet the demand for its commercial applications. Most of the world's Chicory Root comes from China today due to lower production costs than other parts of the world where they are currently grown.
How to grow Chicory Root?
Chicory Root has a deep root system which makes it difficult to grow in small spaces so you will need at least 10 feet by 50 feet of room if you want to try your hand at planting some yourself. You can purchase Chicory Root seeds or plants online or from specialty gardening stores around the country. Ask other gardeners where they get their organic products and how satisfied they are with pricing and shipping costs before deciding on who to buy from as prices vary significantly between stores and distributors.
Chicory Root comes from an ancient plant with bright blue flowers, and it's commonly used in coffee replacements. Packaged into sealed fully-compostable pouches so you can enjoy its benefits without worrying about plastic or paper getting involved--bonus points for being organic too :)