And I mean scratch. A friend of mine who works barefoot on a farm gave me a bushel of chicory roots. “They’ve got some mold on them, but you can probably cut that off.” he said. “You’re going to be roasting them, after all. I can get you 10 more if you want them–they’re just going to put them on the compost pile.”
I started on the bushel Friday, and here it is Sunday and I’m still working on the one bushel, so I doubt I’ll get getting any more…
Why am I doing this? Well, I LOVE dandelion coffee, but it’s danged expensive. And pulling up roots myself, well, that’s pretty labor-intensive, and unfortunately, after my husband pulled up most of the dandelion in the garden plot (not realizing it is a helper plant–we neither of us have “green thumbs”), so I don’t have as much ready dandelion in my yard as I’d like. Chicory is related to dandelion, and has similar health benefits, apparently, such as being a cholagogue, and I’ve heard that it could make a bitter, coffee-like drink without the caffeine (which I’m trying to avoid).
It was a lot of work–the main part of which, I think, was cutting the moldy bits and the tops off of all the roots, which were so dirty I opted to perform this chore outside, with temps in the middle 40s (not bad, when it’s still sunny, but I worked late into the afternoon).
After cutting the moldy parts off of the roots (and throwing away a few which were limp and soft with mold), and cutting off the sprouting tops, I washed them. Three times.
Next I put the roots through a food processor to slice them, and then spread them out into a baking pan.
I tried roasting them at 250F, and it took a bit over 4 hours to get nice and brown. The next time, I did them at 300F, and it took closer to 3 hours, so I’ve been doing subsequent batches (because this is a LOT of chicory) at 300F.
Then let the roasted root chips cool for a bit, and put them into the food-processor fitted with an S-blade this time, to pulverize them. The resultant powder had some chunks in it, but that was okay. It took about a minute, with some pulsing in-between. I had to wear earplugs. Sometimes the S-blade would catch on a big chip and just stop–I had to pry it loose in each case, or risk damaging my Cuisinart.
A whole bushel of chicory roots, processed this way, only yielded between a half gallon to 3/4 gallon of powder–quite a reduction! I brewed it in a French Press coffee-maker, and started out with 3 heaping tablespoons, but feared that would not be enough, and added another.
The resultant brew was nicely bitter, if not as malty as dandelion coffee, dark and rich. I liked it, though I still like dandelion coffee better. The main concern I have NOW is that, having drunk a couple cups, I notice a tendency for…gas. I did some research and found that chicory root (which is what endives grow from–who knew?) is high in inulin fiber, which is a pre-biotic that feeds bacteria in the gut (like acidophilus) but is not “digestible” for sugars for calories…I have had inulin (as an additive to stevia) as well as other chicory root preparations, so I am at a loss to explain why chicory coffee would have this effect. Taking acidophilus did relieve those symptoms, thankfully–unless they were about to alleviate anyway. The next day I made some “coffee” using half dandelion root and half chicory, and suffered no such effects.