What sort of extras do you have time for? Yoga? Scrap-booking? TV? Floor mopping? Puzzles? Going to the gym? Movies? I’m afraid I don’t have time for any of those things. My life is too fast-paced for such indulgences and I’m simply much too busy. Busy picking dandelions. Isn’t it wonderful most of us have some choice in what we do with our time–even if it’s just a half hour a day? I think yoga must be terrific but I don’t know how I’d ever squeeze it in at times like these when digging dandelions roots is absolutely urgent.
I read somewhere that millions of French children, women, and old men feel the same way I do. Though I’m not sure this is true, I like to imagine the French roaming the countryside en masse in pursuit of the aptly named pissenlit. Besides it’s diuretic action, dandelion root is an immune system stimulant, lowers cholesterol, reduces inflammation, and can be used for digestive problems, according to my two beloved books.
If you are collecting the root for coffee, or the greens for salad, it’s best to do it is in spring before the yellow flower appears. After blossoming, the leaves get too bitter and the root quality is compromised. You can harvest the root in late fall but I find the coffee made from spring roots more pleasant and not at all bitter. I also tried roasted parsnip root coffee (did I tell you how busy I am?) but it was disappointing. I thought it would taste like caramel latte because of the root’s innate sweetness but it ended up tasting like roasted parsnip. Shucks.
Dandelion coffee, on the other hand, is something I wish I had more of. Yes. I wish I had more gigantic dandelions to dig up but now my garden is completely clean. Our lawn is still full, of course, but those roots are much smaller than the ones grown in loose soil, and hardly worth picking. Perhaps foraging is best done in lesser amounts anyhow; better to be wanting more and waiting for next year’s seasonal ritual than over-doing it.
Dandelion Root Coffee Recipe
- Soak freshly dug roots in water to loosen dirt.
- Scrub roots and let dry on a towel for a few hours/day.
- Chop roots into evenly sized pieces and dry.
- Roast in a cast iron skillet until the pieces turn a chocolate brown. The aroma is wonderful! (You can also roast in the oven at 350 for about 20 min.)
- Coarsely grind roasted chunks in a coffee mill and store in a glass jar. (Alternatively, you can boil the root chunks, without milling them, for about 5-10 minutes and then let them steep to make a decoction. Strain to drink.)
- To prepare a cup of fresh brew, boil water and use a french press (or a tea pot) to steep ground roots for at least 5 minutes. I like my coffee and tea black, so I don’t add anything to this, but it might be nice with cream, sugar and cinnamon.
- Drink up!
Enjoy your extra time today, however you fill it,