A few years back, I was reading an article by Thomas Elpel, author of Botany in a Day and several articles and books on all kinds of primitive skills. He’s a true master. But he had attempted to make dandelion coffee, and it didn’t turn out for him and he was disappointed with the results.
The reason is, he had tried to make it in a drip coffee maker. I thought of writing him and telling him how I do it, but figured he is the expert and I’m just a little hobby forager, so decided to let it go.
The dandelion root coffee that I have made is rich, mellow, smooth, complex and has chocolate undertones. It’s truly a superb beverage.
The way I did it is to dig the roots with a weed digger. (You probably know that you can’t pull them up!) Then I scrubbed them, put them on a baking sheet, and put them in a 250 degree oven for 5 hours. At that point, you break a couple of the roots to make sure they are a rich, dark brown inside. Then you “grind” them in the blender.
Dandelion roots do not grind properly! You will end up with some powder and lots of irregularly shaped chunks.
To properly prepare dandelion coffee, you need to use an old time stove top percolator. But once when I was visiting my sister in Florida, I was going to make some for her but she didn’t have a percolator. So I took a pot, lined a large sieve with a coffee filter, then added the dandelion coffee, and made sure it was submerged in the water. I brought the water to a boil, then simmered it until the coffee was the strength I liked.
And that’s how you make real dandelion coffee! Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of that operation to share with you. Maybe I’ll do another tutorial with photos in the spring.
Today I’m going to post a lot of photos because this will be my last wild edible post until spring comes. I plan to not only take photos of wild plants, but show you how I use them. That will be a lot more useful than just pictures of plants that I’m posting now.
Another wild edible that has been a staple to people during hard times, particularly in the Deep South during the Depression, is poke salad. Poke salad is a highly nutritious vegetable, but care has to be taken in its preparation. The poke plant is poisonous. The roots are deadly poisonous. But the young shoots, and the leaves while they are a bright, translucent emerald green, are easily treated to remove the toxins, resulting in a safe, healthy edible.
To prepare the poke shoots, bring a separate large pot of water to boil. Fill a smaller pot with some of the boiling water, add the poke shoots, and simmer for 5 minutes. At that time the cooking water will be reddish and cloudy. Pour off that water, cover with more boiling water, and cook another 3 minutes. This time the water will only be slightly cloudy. Pour that water off, fill the pot with boiling water one more time, and simmer a few more minutes.
At this point, the cooking water will be perfectly clear, assuring you that all the water soluble toxins have been safely removed. Dip the poke out of the water, discarding the water, and serve with butter and salt. Do NOT pour cold water over the poke shoots in the pot or you will set, rather than remove, the toxins.
In spring, I will do a picture tutorial for you.