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Chicory, Cichorium intybus

  • September 17, 2022
  • Did your parents or grandparents drink chicory instead of coffee during the 1930s or 40s? Those were tough times and coffee was too expensive or not always available.

    Chicory, Cichorium intybus, is an herbaceous perennial (native to Europe) that grows along roads and in disturbed areas of Marin. You can recognize it from its bright blue, daisy-like flowers.

    The root of chicory is roasted and ground to produce the coffee-like beverage. 

    Chicory has a long history in this country. In the mid-nineteenth century, the port of New Orleans was the second largest importer of coffee (after New York). During the American Civil war Union naval blockades cut off the port of New Orleans and thus stopped the import of coffee. Louisianans started to add chicory root to their coffee and continue that tradition today.

    The Journal of Nutrition (July 1999) reported that chicory root contains 15-20% inulin. Inulin is used as a food sweetener with 1/10 the sweetness of sucrose.

  • Katie Martin