Exhibition Tips for Growing Chicory
Blanchedis not often seen at major shows because there are few taking place when chicory is at its best, in winter and early spring. However, well grown chicory is worth a relatively large number of points and, should you have occasion to show blanched chicory, it is worth having a go. Twelve is the usual number of chicons required for collections, and nine for single dishes. They look best when shown upright on a small, spiked board. The board surface can be easily concealed with sprigs of fresh after the chicons have been fixed into position. Remember, though, it is the chicory and not the parsley which is being shown, so use sparingly.
There are no special cultivation requirements for growing exhibition chicory. Proper packing and presentation is all-important though and, if badly presented, valuable show points can be lost. As close to the show time as possible, cut the heads with a sharp knife. Make sure there is a tiny bit of root attached, so the leaves hold together. Wipe away anyor sand adhering to the outer leaves with a damp cloth. Roll the heads up, individually, in tissue paper, and lay them side by side in a shallow box. Exposure to light will cause the leaves to lose their blanch and turn green, so keep them covered until the last possible moment. Once they are on the staging, cover the chicons with brown paper until the judges appear.
Points will be awarded for long, solid, crisp chicons, which are well blanched and uniform in size and shape.
Unblanched chicory can be shown as part of a collection of ’salading’, which is made up of three or four vegetables normally served cold. The chicory should be fresh, crisp, and perfectly clean, and displayed with the other vegetables in a shallow bowl or plate.