Many people are unaware that chicory takes two years to grow: in the first year, the roots are cultivated, with the chicory head then growing on the taproot during the second year.
First, sow your seed
The chicory seeds are sown in the spring in the soil in such places as Flevoland and Zeeland (both in the Netherlands). The seeds start to grow and produce roots. These roots are also known as ‘chicory taproots’.
In the autumn, the taproots are lifted from the soil and taken to the chicory farms in IJsselmuiden, Kessel and Kessel-Eik, where they are sorted and frozen. Freezing the chicory taproots ensures that a certain quantity of taproots can be cultivated at all times. Once the taproots have been removed from the cold store, each one starts to form a new leaf again, this being the chicory. This process is known as ‘forcing’.
Growing them in water
The chicory taproots are put in low trays that are then placed in a dark refrigerated cold store. This ensures that the chicory stays beautifully white and doesn’t turn green. The small roots that grow out of the taproots stand in the water, which contains nutrients for the chicory plants. Every day, the grower checks that the chicory is growing as it should and is of good quality.
In just three weeks, chicory grows into a fully-fledged vegetable crop ready for harvesting. The chicory is then cut from the taproot and harvested. Next, the chicory is transported to a conveyor belt, where employees carefully remove the outer leaves from the chicory and clean the latter. The chicory is then immediately packed in special packing film so that it stays fresh, crunchy and delicious for a long time.
A pure vegetable
All the chicory that Vitalof grows is cultivated in line with Global G.A.P. standards. This means that the chicory is cultivated using as little artificial fertiliser and as few pesticides as possible. This makes chicory one of the Netherlands’ ‘purest’ vegetables.
Ready for the consumer
The final step is to prepare the chicory for its transportation. The chicory arrives on the shop shelf fresh and looking great within 24 hours of being harvested, ready for the consumer to buy