Dandelion Root Coffee
Dandelion is such a useful plant. This year I have made a delicious wine from the flowers and eaten the leaves in salads, firstly blanching them under pots. I noticed that there were some extremely large plants in a bed I had not dug and it seemed a shame to waste them.
There has been a particularly horrible advert on my TV recently advocating the spraying of toxic poisons onto dandelions. This plant above all others has so many uses its presence in the garden should be honoured. I still find it so hard to believe that the ‘normal’ view is that free food and medicine like dandelions are a weed that should be eliminated by spraying poison onto the land.
Dandelion has supreme nutritional value, the early leaves provide a diuretic tonic with compounds that help restore potassium to the system – unlike many pharmaceutical diuretics. Both the roots and leaves are rich in fructose and insulin, bitter principles, phenol acids and sterols. The leaves are rich in potassium salts, coumarins and flavonoids.
It also has great value medicinally in managing your health or that of your loved ones. It has been used in the treatment of acne, bladder infections, eczema, endometriosis, gallstones, hangover, haemorrhoids, high blood pressure, liver disease and warts at least !
How to make Dandelion Coffee: So firstly I dug up the roots and cleaned them off outdoors using a hosepipe and brush. Then I took them indoors for a more meticulous scrub in the kitchen bowl, taking off the hairy bits and prising out clumps of stuck soil with a knife.
Then I dried them off with a tea towel, and patted them down with a couple of kitchen towels. Next I chopped up the roots and laid them out on a tray, taking them out to the greenhouse to start drying.
There was hardly any summer season this year so we were having fires in the wood burner even in July, which allowed me to use my ‘underburner drying space’ although slow roasting in an oven is just as good to dry the roots out.
Then they need processing to powder, using a chunky pestle and mortar, coffee grinder or something similar and then you have the powder left to make dandelion coffee, which has a taste all of its own.
You can brew up a dandelion coffee just like a normal ground coffee, or even mix it with coffee as a substitute, a bit like chicory. I tend to put a couple of heaped teaspoons in a small pan with enough water for a mug and boil it up as a decoction, then filtering it into a cup.
The word Dandelion comes from the French ‘dent de lion’, a reference to the shape of its leaves. The old English name for it was ‘piss a bed’. In France they still call it Pissenlit, (literally ‘piss in bed’) due to its strong diuretic effect. Dandelion is without doubt wild food foraging at its most nutritionally and medicinally useful.