I have become OBSESSED with chicory. I am in love with the rich dark chocolatey java like substance. Earthy coffee. Mmmmmm obsessed I am. Whoever called this poor mans coffee was sadly mistaken. Coffee is wonderful but chicory is even even better. For a added bonus it is very healthy. Google it. You might just be pleasantly surprised.
It can be free. Most county roads are full of it. Make sure you are pulling it up in areas you know haven’t been sprayed with pesticides or weed killer. My favorite location is an uninhibited lane leading to a little church in a rural part of the county I live in.
Growing up we called it cornflower. It grows everywhere here in Kentucky, along roadsides, railroad tracks and bordering parking lots. It grows in full sun and thrives in heat. It’s tough to dig up but when you can pull them up, the root looks like a carrot. It is easiest to pull these after a good rain. They are strong and stubborn.
They are light beige when scrubbed clean. Some are fat and woody, others long and slender. Some have little "hairs" but those usually come off when scrubbed. They don't hurt. They are just runners.
The greens are edible, much like dandelion greens, if you like that sort of thing. I find them to be too bitter but they are full of vitamins.
To make this worth the work, and it is, get at least 5 lbs of root. After you dig it up, snip off the greens at the base of the plant and discard if you don't plan to use the,greens.
You will need these, scissors will not cut it.
I clean mine by placing them in a large bucket outside and spraying my garden hose with the high pressure nozzle. This knocks loose a lot of the dirt and grime. Rinse and fill again with clean water. Let sit about an hour. I pull the roots from the water and lay on my patio and rinse again. Use a scrub brush if needed.
Once cleaned, using snips cut the pieces like you would a carrot and pile on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Chop small enough to dry quickly. You are roasting to dry and remove the moisture in the plant so you can grind later.
Bake at 425 for about an hour. Keep an eye on them after 40 minutes. Burning chicory is not a pleasant odor.
Bake until brown, almost burnt.
Once dry roasted, use a coffee grinder or ninja blender, something tough. You are basically grinding up hard little sticks.
Grind until some is fine and some is woody like so.
At this point you can place it back in the oven for further roasting. The darker it is, the richer it is.
Place a few spoonfuls in your coffee maker or for best results, use a french press.
Use only 1/2 to 2/3 of what you would typically use in coffee in your maker. It’s more water soluble than coffee.
Sweeten or use cream if desired. Enjoy your cup of free, organic and healthy caffeine-free hot joe.
Oops. Guess I should have shown you what it looks like.