First I struggled with the dandelion plants in the garden. These tough little critters have strong, stubborn roots and will fight to their bitter end. I gave up soon after, as you can probably tell by my meagre harvest.
|dandelion roots, washed but not yet trimmed.|
After cleaning and trimming the dandelion roots, I placed them in the oven, and gleefully zapped them with the dry heat. Roasted dandelion roots are toasty and nutty in aroma. Beautiful. However, I was a bit hasty in getting them out of the oven, so as you can see, they are not as dark as they can be, and some are still very pale inside. (Note: I roasted them at 160C/320F for only about half an hour - they would definitely benefit from more time in the oven to bring them to a deep coffee colour.)
|oven-roasted dandelion roots|
Still, they were sufficiently fragrant and brittle so I decided to just go ahead and use them. At this point, you can actually brew them like a tea, or grind them into a coffee-like powder. I opted for the latter, using a mortar and pestle, which resulted in this dandelion "coffee" powder!
|dandelion root coffee powder|
Okay, so this barely made a quarter cup of beverage. It was, as expected, fairly bitter, so I added a pinch of raw sugar as well. I offered most to my uncle as he likes coffee and I wanted to know what he thought - he was pleasantly surprised at how coffee-like it was.
I fumbled my way through this without any guidance. I did hop online afterwards, though, and found some ideas that would come in helpful if I should make this again, such as dehydrating the dandelion roots at a lower heat first, and then cranking up the temperature, stirring perhaps once or twice for a more uniform roast, and to prevent them from getting burnt. Some people also add spices, which I imagine would go wonderfully well, and give it a chai-tea-like quality.
I would love to improve upon my first attempt - but that would mean doing battle with the dandelions once more. Better start working on those biceps...