Along our private little road, is the most beautiful row of periwinkle hued chicory. I'm sure you've come across it this time of year, but just didn't know how magical it could be.
Of course, my first thought was, "harvest that". So I did, knowing that I'd experiment with making chicory coffee.
Chicory was originally (and still is) used medicinally. It's a woody, herbaceous plant with major health benefits. It has also been roasted, ground and mixed with coffee in France since the 19th century. You can drink it alone, as a coffee substitute. It has no caffeine, and tastes so similar to coffee-- a strong flavour thats nutty, with a bit of a sweet-sour taste. The only thing is, it can be bitter. Using a bit less than your average coffee to water ratio should help. If you're not into the bitter flavour, mix it with your coffee, and make it into a laté. Adding milk changes the flavour, and it's pretty delicious.
If you're a coffee snob, and think "no way, there's no pretending, and nothing compares", then... well, i dunno what to tell you. Don't get me wrong, I love coffee, but I also enjoy the ritual in preparing my cup in morning. So this post isn't about trying to replace my coffee. It's about options, living off your land, self healing, and the ritual and process that goes along with picking something from the earth, to when it finally reaches your lips. If you'd like to remove caffeine from your diet, but still need a warm cup of something, then this is perfect for you.
Keep in mind, is that harvest would typically be done in the fall, when the plant energy reaches I couldn't wait, so I used this opportunity as an experiment. I'll be all ready for the fall harvest.
The prep work is a bit tedious, but definitely worth it. Here are the steps in preparing your Roasted Chicory Root Coffee:
- Pull out/dig up the chicory root. This is easiest done after a rainfall, when the soil is nice and moist. (If you're wildcrafting, make sure not to take everything in the area. We want to save these plants and ensure they come back every year. Also, if you dig it up, please fill the hole back up with dirt.)
- Snip the roots from the stem. You can keep the leaves and flowers to make a salad
- Peel the roots. This was by far the most tedious part. I think I might actually skip this step next time, and just scrub them really really well before roasting.
- If you do peel them, scrub off any excess dirt
- Cut up the root into small discs. This is tough. I ended up using my garden pruner. It made all the difference.
- My pieces were still wet from washing, so I put them out in the sun to remove any moisture.
- Roast in the oven for 1.5-2hrs. I roasted at 350 degrees for the first hour, where they turned a nice dark brown colour (and the house smelled divine). I later turned the heat down as low as 275 and just let it roast slowly for another 45 minutes, checking on them every 15 minutes or so. The longer you roast, the darker the brew. If you want a milder taste, you can adjust your roasting time.
- Grind the beans in a regular coffee grinder and brew it just like you would your coffee.
* this information is for educational use only. it should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.