Dandelion Coffee - Background Information
Dandelion coffee is a delicious drink that can easily be used in place of regular coffee. I used to offer up free dandelion coffee grounds to people when we had our apothecary on Main Street in Yarmouth. It proved to be impossible for me to gather enough of the root to satisfy demand. If I ever open that type of business again, I'll charge for it.
Gather dandelion root in the fall of the year. During the Spring and Summer period dandelions will be adding bulk to their roots so that they may endure the coming winter. The roots will be at their most luscious point just prior to the end of their second growing season.
Make sure you know what dandelion looks like. Several imitators are common. Dandelion does not have hairy leaves. It's smooth leaves have tooth-like indentations (hence it's name -- Dent de Lion). Dandelion has a single, unbranched stalk. Should you make a mistake and gather up another herb, such as Hawkbit, it is unlikely that any harm will be done as herbs are generally harmless when made up into simple preparations as teas or coffees.
Use a long, narrow gardening trowel to dig up the dandelion root. plunge the trowel into the earth, down, alongside the length of the taproot. Do this in a circular pattern around the root. Two or three plunges will be sufficient. pull the root up, along with the trowel, on the last plunge. In no time you'll end up with a bag full of root.
Cut the green tops off. Discard into the compost or feed to the chickens. Fall dandelion leaves are probably too old and stringy for eating. Wash the roots in water after you have gathered them. Use a potato scrub brush to clean them of earth.
Now the roots must be dried. Chop them up into 1/2 centimetre-sized pieces. Let dry completely and quickly without direct sunlight or artificial heat. The way I dry a large amount of herb is to place them on paper all along the top of the stairwell. Stairways have a noticeable airflow associated with them and this dries most herbs very nicely. Stir up the roots twice a day.
After the Dandelion roots are completely dried (about 8-10 days), place them in a cool, dark place until you are prepared to roast some up. I'm describing the roasting process as a separate step from the drying process because roasting a damp root is, at best, a precarious proposition.
To roast the chopped and dried roots spread them out on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven at 320F for about 30 minutes. Stir the root several times during roasting--more frequently if the root is closely packed. It doesn't take very much root to fill a cookie sheet so plan on roasting a great number of small batches. A batch is nearly done when the aroma of roasting root starts to permeate the house. It might take a couple of batches before you get the hang of judging when they are done.
Grind in a coffee grinder and store in an airtight container. I use old coffee tins.
prepare your dandelion coffee just as you would regular drip coffee. If you add milk and/or honey to regular coffee then do likewise with dandelion coffee. Bon appetite