I've heard about dandelion root coffee before, but never bothered to try it because it sounds like a lot of faff, and besides, I'm not much of a coffee drinker. However, since I'd already dug the plants up anyway, I decided to give it a go for the sake of this challenge. I found an interesting website that gives a very easy recipe for making the drink. It also includes a warning that the strong diuretic effect make this inappropriate for those with low blood pressure. Since I do indeed have low blood pressure, the cautious approach would be for me to avoid dandelion coffee entirely (and possibly other parts of the plant too). I'm not that cautious, but I will bear this in mind and make sure I only drink this when well hydrated and not, for example, at the end of a boozy meal.
Following the instructions, after washing the roots and patting dry (with a tea towel), I roasted them. I had the oven lit anyway for stew (gas mark 3, which is 160°C or 325°F), so I just put the roots on a baking tray on a lower shelf for a couple of hours. When I checked them after that, they looked pretty well done. I broke one in half so you can see that it's dark brown all the way through.
I don't have a coffee grinder and I did consider using a spare pepper mill, but in fact these roots were so brittle that they were easy to break up and crush to a fine-ish powder with the pestle and mortar.
Although the recipe said to simmer the drink for around 10 min, I couldn't shake the maxim,
Boiled coffee is spoiled coffee. OK, I know it's not really coffee, but still. Lacking also a coffee pot or cafetiere (being not much of a coffee drinker) I chose to brew this in much the same way as I'd brew tea, but with not-quite-boiling water. I left the pot on top of the wood burner to keep warm while it brewed for ten minutes or so, then poured through a strainer lined with a bit of kitchen towel, as the powdered root is probably finer than loose tea.
I added milk and sugar, as I would for coffee, and it was remarkably nice and surprisingly similar to actual coffee. It was a bit weak, but then I didn't have many roots. Perhaps it would have been stronger if I'd simmered it, but that would have been more work.
In fact, what surprised me most was how little effort all this was. Starting with roots as a byproduct of gardening (no additional effort), and apart from cleaning, which was a bit fiddly, this was hardly any work at all. I don't think I'll set out to harvest dandelions this way, if only because it destroys the plant, but if I dig up some plants anyway I might well clean the roots and put them aside until next time I have the oven lit.
Also harvesting this week:
Hairy bittercress (+cream cheese sarnie)
Navelwort; Lesser celandine; Sorrel: salad
Also eating this week:
Bilberry and blackberry jam
Foraged food challenge summary page here.