• Related to the lettuce, endive, artichoke and raddichio.
  • Narrow, elongated bulbous clusters of leaves.
  • 15cm in height.
  • 5cm in diameter.

Witlof can be cooked by steaming, boiling or microwaving.

Witlof is cultivated in two stages. Firstly, witlof is grown from seed, and after approximately 5 months, produces a root beneath the ground, resembling a turnip On top of the root and above the ground, lush green leaves are produced, these leaves are removed and the roots are harvested. Secondly, the roots are coolstored and then placed in special growing trays in hydroponic rooms. The temperature in these rooms, and the water quality are strictly controlled and in four weeks, the clean white heads are ready to be picked.

Witlof, or witloof, means whiteleaf for the reason of its appearance. It was discovered in the mid 1 800’s in Belgium. It was not until 1873 that it first appeared at an exhibition. The first sales of witlof were held in 1913. In those times the method of producing witlof from the roots, was to put the roots into large pits under the earth and to keep them in the dark for a period of time, after which the new white leaves form the characteristic tapered white head at the top of the root.

Botanical Name: Cichorium intybus (Compositae)

Alternative Names: Belgian Endive, Chicory, Witloof

Health Benefits

A good source of vitamin C, folic acid and dietary fibre.

100g of Witlof yields the following:

  • Calories – 17
  • Total Carbs – 1% of DV
  • Protein – 0.9g
  • Dietary Fibre – 12% of DV
  • Vitamin A – 1% of DV
  • Vitamin C – 5% of DV
  • Calcium – 2% of DV
  • Iron – 1% of DV

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Selecting tips

Select fresh, clean leaves that are creamy white to light yellow, with no signs of decay or wilting. Choose witlof which are heavy for their size, with firm heads and free of brown discolouration.

Wash in cold water and dry. Trim the base and use leaves whole or sliced uncooked in salads.

Storage: Store in an airtight plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper and use as soon as possible.

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