Radicchio, being part of the chicory family, is a crunchy, bitter-yet-sweet leafy green that grows wonderfully in the winter (above 25◦ F temperatures) and throughout all other seasons. It is native to Italy and was cultivated to provide nutritious greens during the winter time. Radicchio is characteristically bitter, but when grown in the right slots (time of year), they have a wonderfully balanced flavor of sweet and bitter flavors with an exceptional crunch.
Bred for all growing slots, from early spring to late winter, newer radicchio seeds have more diverse variety options and are more adaptive. Radicchio is sensitive to length of day and temperature shifts, so it is important to choose varieties carefully for your season and climate. It is a cool-season crop, but varieties have also been bred for bolt-resistance for summer growing.
One of our staff here at Osborne Quality Seeds, Linda Fenstermaker, recently traveled to Italy and visited our radicchio seed vendor, T&T, to explore their trial fields and learn more about new varieties.
Here at Osborne Quality Seeds, we offer a variety of types and slots for radicchio, so be sure to check out our chicory selection on our website. We also carry radicchio to add bright red crunch to your baby leaf production (Red Ball 3).
Featured below are a few varieties that we carry.
Rosso di Chioggia: The standard radicchio one would see in the grocery store. It is round with red leaves and thick white stems. More than some varieties, this type is widely used in processed salad mixes. It is great roasted or cooked into risotto.
(Sirio, 4050, 614). (Pictured left)
Rosso di Treviso precoce: Oblong-shaped, longer red and white radicchio. Less bitter than Chioggia, Treviso is perfectly suited for salads or cooking. Its long leaves are crunchy with some bitterness and rich flavor and is easy to cut into strips for salads.
(TVG1, Baldo, Bottiglione).
Verona: Smaller than Chioggia and round with a slight point at the top. It is the bitterest type and is just becoming more popular in the United States.
Variegato di Castlefanco: A beautiful flower like radicchio made up of blonde, green leaves with red speckles. Cooler weather creates more speckling. It is barely bitter and has a sweet crunch. As one of our favorites, it is a perfect introduction to the wonders of radicchio. (Fenice, Lucrezia).
Rosa del Veneto: A beautiful bright, pastel pink radicchio with slightly thicker leaves and a wonderfully light, bitter, sweet flavor. It is truly a masterpiece in the field, which makes the longer maturity time worth it. But be warned, it needs cold temperatures to turn pink.
(Rosalba) (Pictured right).
Pan di Zucchero (Sugarloaf): A very tall and thin green variety that is crispy and not as bitter.
The above pictures from left to right are: Castlefranco, Lusia, Tardivo, Pan Di Zucchero.
A few more specialty varieties of radicchio include:
Rosso di Tardivo: A forced variety (shaded from light) with a loose head formation and curled delicate leaves. It has a similar flavor to Treviso and cooks down very well.
Bianco di Chioggia: The same size and shape to Rosso di Chioggia, but is pale green in color.
Variegato di Lusia: A tighter, round radicchio with the same speckled coloration and taste as Variegato di Castlefranco, but with thinner and more delicate texture.
(Lusia Adige Medio)