Chicory Variegata di Castelfranco is an ancient Heritage variety developed in the 18th century in the Castelfranco region of Northern Italy. One of the best for eating quality. A very decorative variety that produces attractive, rosette-shaped heads with an appearance is best described as a large, tie-dyed cricket ball, leaves are speckled with red. Fine eating quality and maximum crunchiness with an interesting slightly bitter flavour.
Castelfranco Radicchio obtained the Indicazione Geografica Protetta (IGP, Protected Geographic Indication) in 1996 and its fame has nowadays spread well over its production area, beyond the Italian borders.
It is a very particular variety of Radicchio, surprising for its colour and features that make it look very similar to a flower. The head has a minimum diameter of 15 cm and develops from its base up in a sequence of leaves that starting from flat and open progressively close until enclosing the heart of this radicchio like a crown of petals. Leaves are creamy white, mottled in purple and bright red. The minimum weight of a head is 100g. It has a delicate bittersweet taste, with a hardly perceivable sweet scent.
There are three main types of Chicory; forcing types like Witloof, Red Chicory (otherwise known as Radicchio) and Sugarloaf types that resemble large-hearted Lettuce.
It is very popular in many European countries but not so widely grown or eaten in the UK due to its bitter taste. Blanching reduces the bitterness and we find its crispness is very welcome in winter salads.
How to cook:
Non-forcing Chicories are mainly used in salads in the Autumn and Winter. Use as the basis for a salad with orange or walnuts and blue cheese, for example. Or use it with other leaves in a mixed salad.
Chicory can also be braised in a number of ways on its own, or mixed with other leafy vegetables like chard, spinach or kale. Put in boiling salted water for 2 minutes then drain. Fry some garlic in olive oil add the drained greens, season and stir fry for a minute. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and serve as a side dish.
Chicory Variegata di Castelfranco (Radicchio) Seed Information
||Approx 700 seeds per pack.
||Requires prepared soil with plenty of compost
|When to Sow:
||Sow directly April to August
|How to Sow:
||Rake a general fertilizer in a few days before sowing. Sow seed thinly 15mm deep in rows 25cm apart. Ideal temp. 10-21°C. Germination takes 7-10 days approx. Thin seedlings to 30cm spacing. Water until established. Harvest heads in autumn or if harvesting later offer cloche protection
||Grows to 30-40cm, but requires a bit of staking - pea sticks do a great job. Pick pods regularly when 2-3cm long to ensure longer cropping and the tenderest of pods.
Harvest heads in autumn or if harvesting later offer cloche protection. June to February
When to Sow Chicory Variegata di Castelfranco (Radicchio) Vegetable Seeds
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