Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Dandelions 2.0 - now for breakfast!

Hey there. if you're local, or watch the weather network, you've probably seen stuff about Manitoba having a huge amount of rain fairly recently. yeah. Well, they weren't joking! we had close to 5" in about 3 days, and the ground is just saturated!
Now, i've been contemplating trying my hand at this recipe for quite some time now, but never really had much motivation... my brain kept saying 'that's a lot of work digging those roots out... would it be worth it?'

With all this rain however, the soil was so nice and soft that i pretty much HAD to take the opportunity, so out i went to my 'flower beds' (ie: war of the perennials and dandelions, with the dandelions winning!) and went pulling a bunch of 'weeds'
such pretty flowers, but wait... that's the wrong end!

aah... there we go. that's more like it. Not as pretty though....

Dandelion 'Coffee' - or Adventures in Roasting!
 The instructions i used came from this web site and this one. neither ended up being entirely what i did, recipe-wise. That being said, here's my 'notations' (i don't think this really qualifies as a recipe!)

1. Pull out roots - I pulled mine out of a flower bed that was sodden, and the plants were only a year or two old, so i just pulled them by hand. you may need to use a weeder or shovel to get them out in drier conditions. note: apparently, the ones in a lawn have little piddly roots not much worth pulling. using roots from recently disturbed sites (construction, garden beds, etc) will be more efficient.

2. trim and wash roots - i cut the roots right at the 'join' where the root bulges and separates, becoming leaf.  The roots were then placed in a large tub, and swished with various changes of cold water (being allowed to sit for a while each time, to soften dirt) until they were rinsed clean.

3. cut roots - i decided to chop mine coarsely, to about 2x the size of a coffee bean (or pieces about 1/2" long on average). i then rinsed them in a couple more changes of water, to help leech out the bitterness, as well as remove any remaining dirt and leaf bits.
chopped roots

After pulling, washing and chopping about 100 roots, i got about 4 cups of chopped root total.

4. Roasting - This is where I found the instructions to be completely different, and neither quite right!
I ended up roasting mine for most of the day, starting at 250 F for about three hours, then when i got frustrated, i turned the temp to about 350 for another 45 mins or so, until they were roasted to a nice dark brown. NEXT TIME: i will let the chopped roots air dry (or dry in a low oven) for as long as it takes to be completely dry and then JUST do the roasting process, using a 375F oven. this should only take 15-25 minutes. (to tell if they are done, crack a piece apart. if the inside is nicely browned, it's good.)

roasted root in my coffee grinder. It is actually a darker brown, but the photo is a bit washed out with sun.

5. grinding - i ground my root with a hand coffee grinder to about a 'medium grind', though the grind itself has chunks of longer fibres mixed in with the ground and powdered root core.

four cups raw chopped root = 1 cup dandelion 'coffee' grounds

6. brewing - all instructions that I've seen recommended steeping the brew for 5-10mins.  I made mine by folding a Tablespoon of grounds into a coffee filter, stapling it closed, and dunking it in a cup of hot water for about 5 mins. I then prepared it as i usually do for coffee.

the result?
No, it doesn't taste like coffee. I didn't really expect it to. After Hubby's horror stories, i expected it to be rather noxious (his description was that it tasted like Icelandic sock coffee, only using a used sock, and pond water!)
Honestly, though, it was pretty good. Dandelion brew has notes of cocoa, a coffee-like bitterness, and is really rather pleasant to drink (hot at least. I found the cold brew less palatable).
I also foisted some on hubby, Mom and Dad, and all decided it was a palatable substitute for coffee (if you needed a substitute) (and if you're a coffee kind of person)
Future tasting:
I`m going to try brewing a pot of 1:1 coffee/dandelion blend and see how it tastes.  I'd also like to try making up one of the chai recipes listed here.

So what do you think. Would you be willing to have a cuppa?  You know, you can come on over.... i'll put a kettle on!


  1. I'd try it, but not sure I'd do the work for it haha. I don't drink coffee to begin with so while it sounds intriguing I'm not sure I'd find the time to make it myself.

  2. you can also brew it weaker evidently, and drink it like black tea.
    one thing to think of is that it's a diuretic, and is thus good for some blood pressure problems. it's also caffeine free, and so a healthy choice for anyone, even children !