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Can you make Chicory Coffee with the roots from the wild roadside plants? And if so, how?

  • coll Oct 14, 2012 05:44 AM
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My aunt, who is an avid bicyclist, told me the other day that after gazing at fields upon fields of chicory during her recent rides, she decided she wanted to try to make coffee with it. She remembers her parents drinking only chicory during the War, when coffee wasn't easily available. She has seen it for sale but only at gourmet shops at very high prices, which is what made her think of it. She has the impression there may be health benefits too.

She was assuming you brewed the leaves like tea. I told her I am pretty sure you have to dig up the roots and roast them, then maybe grind it up? Anyway it's not common around here, so hoping someone elsewhere can tell me what she needs to know. I myself would like to get into foraging, so this may be an easy place to start. Or maybe the wild stuff might not be the best idea?

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  1. You are correct that it is the root which is used for "coffee". Roots are harvested after flowering season is over. I'll paraphrase from Billy Joe Tatum's "Wild Foods Cookbook & Field Guide"

    After roots are well scrubbed place on a rack and let dry for several weeks. She recommends an attic, but any dark dry spot seems good. Once roots are dry chop them. Place in a 300 degree oven for approx 3 hrs. until they are crisp. Using a coffee grinder or grain mill process the cooled roots to a medium grind.

    Her coffee recipe specifies using a percolator. 8 cups water with 4 Tb. each of ground chicory and ground dark roast coffee.

    She notes that the very young leaves in spring are edible. They are quite bitter so she recommends boiling with two changes of water and treating as you would any green. The older leaves are tough and fibrous.

    Due to the environmental toxins found beside car path locations it is best to forage at least 50 ft. from the road.

    3 Replies
    1. re: meatn3

      Thank you so much for all that great information. I am forwarding to her now.

      1. re: coll

        Glad to help! I just edited - the amount of water (8 cups) had printed as * cups.
        Billy Joe doesn't address storage. I would think the roasted root could be kept cool, dry and airtight in an un-ground state for some time.

        1. re: meatn3

          I know, after I sent her I saw that asterisk. But as I told her just now, it was a easy puzzle to figure out, if you like that kind of thing!

    2. Community Coffee (a favorite in New Orleans) has a best seller in their Dark Roast coffee with chicory and maybe she'd like to try that (mail order) before collecting pounds of chicory roots.

      2 Replies
      1. re: shallots

        She saw Community Coffee in her local grocery store but the price was too high. That's why she was thinking of making it herself, times are rough. Plus she's thinking pure chicory,not mixed, she swears that what my grandparents drank.

        1. re: coll

          Might be worth a call to your local government to find out what is sprayed on the roadside.