Roasted Dandelion Root Coffee is a surprisingly delicious beverage! It closely resembles coffee in flavor and body when brewed properly. I serve it at all my workshops and presentations and am always amused by the response. People tend to hesitantly sample it with a look of serious doubt on their faces, and the next thing you know the whole pot disappears!
Dandelion Root is a rich treasury of vitamins and minerals, as well as trace minerals and micronutrients. It also contains numerous medicinal components, but one that draws particular attention lately is a substance called inulin, which may be an important ingredient in managing diabetes. Even the bitter flavor of the Dandelion Coffee is good for you as it helps to stimulate the entire digestive system, from the appetite all the way to the better absorption of nutrients. Truly there is a fine line between food and medicine with this precious herb!
There are no harmful substances in Dandelion Coffee, unlike our commercial coffees that do far more harm than good. Folks would be far better off if they started each day with a hot cup of Dandelion!
The best place to harvest is from a farm field that gets plowed frequently or a large garden. The soil will be looser, which allows the roots to get really big and also makes for much easier digging. The dandelions in your lawn or other mowed places are generally stunted and yield very small roots.
Look for the biggest, thickest clumps of dandelion leaves, as these are usually fed by a nice, fat root. I also carry a knife with me to cut the greens away from the roots. You will need about one 5-gallon bucket of roots to make 3 or 4 quarts of roasted Dandelion Root. This would yield 10 gallons or so of coffee.
If you have time, take the greens home separately and prepare them for freezing. A bucket of roots will give about a bushel basket of greens so plan accordingly! I like to make a day of it and stock up for the whole year on both greens and coffee.
Washing the Roots
I used to scrub each root by hand, and believe me this was a lot of work! I have since developed a much more efficient method where I can process large quantities relatively quickly.
To wash the roots, (you’ll probably want to do this step outside) put them in a bucket, fill it with water and agitate the roots with your hands until the water is very muddy. Pour off the water, fill the bucket again and repeat this process a few times until the water runs clear. At this point you should have a pile of beautiful, golden dandelion roots. Don’t worry if there is still some dirt left on them, as we will be washing them one more time.
Roasting the Roots
Spread the coarse-ground Dandelion Roots on cookie sheets about ½ inch deep. I can fit 4 cookie sheets, stacked, 2 on each rack, in my oven. Try to roast as much as you can at one time.
Set the oven at 250° and leave the oven door slightly ajar while they are roasting so that moisture can escape. You will be both drying and roasting the roots in this step. The roasting process takes about 2 hours. As the roots dry, they will shrink down to about ¼ of the size when fresh. After they dry they will begin to roast, going from a blonde color to a dark coffee color.
Be sure to stir them frequently with a spatula to assure even drying and roasting. You may have to rotate the cookie sheets occasionally if they are stacked to ensure even drying and roasting. As they get close to desired color, be careful not to burn them!
Cool and store in glass jars.
Making the Coffee
Some people grind the roots further in a coffee mill so that they are nearly powdered and make it in their coffee pot. I prefer to use them as they are, and make the coffee like a tea in a simmering pot of water.
Use 1 level Tablespoon Roasted Root for each cup of water. Or use 1/3 cup root for each quart of water or 1-1/3 per gallon. You make need to adjust these amounts to your taste if you like it stronger or weaker.
I make the coffee in a pot on the stove, simmering the roots gently for 10-15 minutes or until it yields a rich, coffee-colored brew.
Serve hot with cream and sugar or however you like your coffee.
Purchasing Dandelion Root Coffee
Not everyone is able or willing to go to this effort to harvest and prepare your own Dandelion Coffee. There are several commercial sources of Dandelion Root that you might check out:
http://www.dandyblend.com/This is not pure Dandelion Root but is a combination of roasted barley, rye, dandelion root, beetroot and chicory root. It reminds me a lot of Cafix, a popular coffee substitute on the market. A 3-oz jar makes 25-30 cups.