Dandelion Coffee

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), a wonderful medicinal herb and scourge of gardeners with its invasive roots. Many parts of the Dandelion can be used for salads, coffee and medicinally.

As a lazy gardener, this year I had a bumper crop, so thought I’d try an old coffee-substitute, Dandelion Coffee.

Dandelion Coffee Recipe

  1.  Dig up the Dandelion roots and scrub them well
  2. Leave to dry for a couple of days in a warm room
  3. Chop the roots in to 1cm rounds
  4. Roast in a low oven for a couple of hours (mine went down to about a third of their original weight)
  5. Blitz the roots in an electric spice grinder – you now have some Dandelion Coffee

The Dandelion coffee can be used like instant coffee, simply adding hot water – it tastes good but does have a tendency to separate a bit if you leave it sitting, a quick swirl helps. An alternative method is to use an Italian-style stove-top coffee pot – the resulting drink was bitter-sweet and (to my amazement) really did taste like coffee. At a recent workshop on medicinal tastes, I made up some Dandelion coffee for people to try – one person who was avoiding caffeine was actually worried that I was feeding her “real” coffee – which I think is the best recommendation for this foraged brew. If you harvest your Dandelions later in the year, with a lower sugar content, you can add hot chocolate to complement the flavour.

Other Uses for Dandelion

The young leaves make a tasty addition to salads – they’re best harvested in Spring and from new growth. Like the whole plant, the leaves are slightly bitter and are great at the start of a meal to stimulate digestive juices and get your liver working well. The flowers are edible and can be used to brighten your salads from late Spring right through the Summer and early Autumn. The roots are harvested from Autumn to Spring – being sweeter in the Autumn as the canny forager takes advantage of the sugary starches the plant is storing as food for the Winter. The roots are commonly made in to a medicinal tincture, again a useful bitter for the liver and digestion in general.

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