Brian Read’s been growing chicory in Lincolnshire since 1999 and he’s an expert at dealing with its teenage-like growing moods.
He takes a chicory root (brown and very boring looking), then shoves it in a giant fridge. Why? Basically, he’s tricking the root into thinking it’s winter so that it “goes to sleep”. The root is then “woken up” by Brian when he places it into a growing tray with some other chicory buddies in a pitch dark “forcing” room (not as bad as it sounds – they actually quite like it). Water full of nutrients is run through the trays to give the roots all they need to grow into lush leafy chicory heads.
These heads are chopped off from the root using a machine with some (very sharp) rotating blades before being sent off for specialised packing. After almost twenty years, Brian has got this process down to a fine art and we can offer Curious consumers 52 weeks of British grown chicory (hooray!)