Chicory: Beautiful Blue Coffee Substitute

Posted by on Oct 20, 2019 in Unmowed Blog | 0 comments

Chicory. It’s a weed, of course, nothing but a weed, sprouting up along roadsides, often growing right at the edge of the blacktop.

It’s a particularly wiry, scraggly weed, with dandelion-like jagged leaves and a warty bumpy stem. It’s often sprayed by highway crews as they go about their midsummer poisoning of plant life along guardrails and STOP signs.

 

But when you take a moment to look at chicory up close, it’s a symphony in blue.

The color of chicory flowers is the pure clear blue of a June sky or a bluebird feather. Chicory is shy of flaunting its beauty—the blossoms are only open in the early part of the day, closing up as the sun begins to head downhill. By evening the flowers are all tightly shut, and it’s just a raggedy roadside weed again.

Chicory roots, as you’ve probably heard, can be used as a coffee substitute. Many a wild foods cookbook informs you to dig up chicory roots for a delicious beverage.

But like much advice, this is easier said than done. It takes a fair amount of elbow grease to unearth even one root, yank it free of the web of clinging rootlets, and shake the dirt off. You need a dozen to make a pot of coffee. And once the roots are dug, it’s a bit of a project to wash every speck of dirt out of the gnarly crevices of a chicory root, and then they have to be roasted in a low oven and finally ground up. It’s all a lot of good healthy exercise, no doubt; those who gather their food from the wild rarely get fat doing it.

Chicory coffee is a pleasant drink once you finally make it. It’s quite coffee-like, although it will never replace Starbucks, I fear.

But the beauty of chicory flowers? Priceless.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *