CHICORY is a perennial plant, the whole of which is bitter and aromatic ; the leaves, as well as the root, have been used in medi cine, in the form of a decoction, as a tonic bitter, and diuretic. It is frequently used as a salad, especially when blanched. The luxuriant growth of the leaves of the chicory, and their speedy reproduction after they have bemicut, suggested the more extensive culti vation of this plant as food for cattle and sheep. But, notwithstanding its abundant produce, it has not been found so much su perior to other green food as to make its cul tivation general.
Chicory is now chiefly cultivated in Belgium and Germany, far the purpose of preparing from the root a powder which can be substi tuted for coffee. The roots, when taken up in September, are cleaned by scraping and wash ing, split where they are thickest, and cut across in pieces about two or three inches long. These pieces are dried by means of a slow oven or a kiln. In this state it is sold to the merchants, packed in bags. It is after wards cut or chopped into small pieces, and roasted exactly as coffee, ground in a mill, and packed in papers in pounds and half. pounds for retail sale.
Chicory was brought into use long before the once-celebrated Roasted Corn of Henry Hunt. This latter was simply roasted rye ; and, although used in large quantity, and sweetened with much sugar, it had but a flat and insipid taste. Chicory bears a much closer resemblance to coffee of middling quality. It was about the year 1808 that chicory became generally known in England, when Napoleon's anti-commercial policy led the nations of Europe to look around them for various substitutes for articles no longer obtainable with the same ease as before. The
Germans and the French used chicory before the English; and the Germans still use it largely, often without any admixture with coffee. They even, as a question of economy, use the leaves of the plant in the same way.
There has been much said and written lately about the admixture of chicory with coffee. Many persons prefer coffee which has a little chicory added to it, as it is said that body, colour, and a soft pleasant aroma are imparted thereby. From one to two ounces to a pound of coffee is stated to be a proper proportion. It is however known that this proportion is enormously increased ; for as chicory is much cheaper than coffee, fraudu lent dealers do not fail to avail themselves of the circumstance. It is known that the very low-priced coffee of such vendors sometimes contains as much as two-thirds chicory to one third pure coffee. If purchasers bought their coffee whole, and ground it at home, they might at once defeat this fraud.
Chicory imported from Germany pays a small import duty, and English farmers have therefore begun to grow it. Hence has arisen alarm in two quarters—the Chancellor of the Exchequer fears for his customs revenue, and the Colonial coffee-growers fear a competition against their produce. It is said that 12,000,000 lbs. of chicory are now used annu ally in England.