In my last post about harvesting dandelions, I talked about all the great benefits of the different parts of the dandelion, and a little bit about how and where to harvest them, so here is what we do next.
When we are done digging the dandelion up from the ground we have a nice long thick root that can be up to a foot long, (if we got a nice big plant, if not we have smaller roots to work with which is ok too). We are then going to separate the plant into 3 parts, the flowers, the leaves and the root. The stems the flowers are on can be tossed unless you need the latex sap to remove warts.
Flowers are edible, leaves are great in tea or in salad (if they are young and tender), and the roots are perfect for making tea/coffee.
I am going to be honest, the difference between dandelion tea and coffee is the strength you make it so the words are interchangeable here and I drink it as tea so please forgive me if I use one or the other but really, the difference is the steep time. The dandelion coffee you can buy in the store is not pure dandelion, but has other ingredients of barley, rye, along with dandelion root, chicory roots and beetroot. I personally prefer the straight dandelion flavor. When you roast them in the oven to dry it has a nice smoky slightly bitter flavor. It is almost like a dark black tea, not as much like coffee but still really good! And you don’t need creamer or sugar for the dandelion like you do for coffee.
So you have a nice big pile of dirty fresh out of the ground dandelion root, what next?
Wash wash wash! I rinsed my roots off on the drive way with the hose before even bringing them into the house. This is to get the big obvious chunks of dirt off, as well as any worms that might be hiding in the roots. Worms love dandelion roots!
After they are rinsed I bring them inside and soak them in the sink with some Bio-Clean produce wash. My front yard is completely pesticide and animal free, but the produce wash is still a good idea to help get the dirt and any chemical residue that might be picked up from the air or water runoff from the neighbor’s house, etc. After soaking the roots in the bio-clean solution for 10 minutes I rinse again and scrape/scrub off any remaining dirt. Then rinse rinse rinse until there is no residue in your water! Dirt can get attached to those roots pretty well so it takes some time to make sure they are really clean. It almost reminds me of cleaning leeks, only it takes more time.
Once they are nice and clean chop up the roots into about 1/2 inch lengths and rinse again (just in case you missed some dirt). Then throw the roots into the food processor and process down to the size of coffee grounds.
Take a large baking sheet, or three, depending on how much you harvested, and cover with a very thin layer of olive or peanut oil so the grounds don’t stick, then put the sheets in the oven at 225 degrees for 2 1/2 hours (or until they are dry). Leave the oven door open so that the moisture can escape and the root will dry faster.
The oven leaves a nice roasted flavor that you don’t get from the dehydrator. It is worth the warm kitchen!
Once it is all dry you can store it in zip lock bags or glass containers and use as needed.
Use 1 tbsp roasted roots per cup of coffee. You can add more or less depending on how strong you like your coffee. You can simmer the roots in the coffee pot for 10-15 min to get the correct strength. For tea let the roots steep for 5-10 min, strain and drink. French press works wonders for all types of herbal tea!
Here are some more ideas for tea recipes from http://www.prodigalgardens.info/
Dandelion roots can also be used in some other beverage aside from coffee. We can make a spicy tea from these roots. This tea is called ‘Chai’ in Middle East but it is just tea in America. You will need:
a cup Roasted Dandelion root
6 tablespoons of Fennel or Anise seed
36 green pods of Cardamom
6 sticks of Cinnamon
2 tablespoons of dried Ginger root
1½ teaspoon of black peppercorns
12 Bay leaves.
Mix tea mixture well, add 1/4 cup of mixture (with 1 cinnamon stick per pot) to a pot of boiling water and let boil for 20 min. Let cool and serve. You can add milk and honey to taste.
The next chai is has a chocolatey flavor.
2 cups Roasted Dandelion root
½ cup Cinnamon bark
½ cup Ginger root
½ cup Cardamom seeds
½ cup Star Anise
Every 2 cups of water use 3 tablespoon. Simmer it for 10 minutes. Add milk and honey, then heat but do not boil. You can serve it either hot or cold.
This spicy tea is good for winter.
1 cup Roasted Dandelion root
½ cup dried Orange Peel
½ cup Cinnamon bark
¼ cup dried Ginger root
Per cup, use 1 tablespoon only. Simmer it for 10-15 minutes the use honey to sweeten it.
Enjoy the goodness!