Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Roasted Chicory Root Coffee Substitute

Let's be clear. There is no real substitute for coffee. The best we can hope for is something reasonably similar to adjust to if needed.
Fortunately, chicory root comes close. I rather like it.  I've grown it. I've been roasting it myself for 15 years or so and usually have some around. I hadn't had a cup in a few years, but the other day when I found we still had plenty in stock from my husband's garden it got me thinking about it. Since then I've raided the cupboard a few times until I found I was low on it.
This morning I roasted another batch.
Below is what it looks like as ground, dried chicory root.  It is a very moist root. I've discovered over the years it is best to dehydrate it and then roast it.

If you've more patience than me, you can skip the dehydration step, but you'll have to watch the roasting very closely.

Here's the midway point. I did it at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. I stirred it every 10 minutes. I cannot recommend using a higher temperature. The root is very finicky. I did it at 375 once. The stuff around the edges gave me a very dark roast.

Done and cooling.

Chicory root can be steeped like tea or made in a coffee maker. I've even made Greek-style coffee with it.
The above is medium roast.


the Bag Lady said...

Cool! And the taste? Similar to coffee?

Leah J. Utas said...

Not really, despite the insistence of some. Smell is similar whilst brewing. But a pleasant enough drink on its own.

messymimi said...

Many of us love our coffee with chicory down here. It's a staple at some famous places. Never thought of roasting it myself, since we can buy the coffee with it already.

Leah J. Utas said...

Messymimi, I've had commercial coffee with chicory and it's fine, but when I make it myself I can have just chicory.

Hilary said...

I can remember trying chicory way back when I was in my teens or twenties and not liking it but it would of course deserve a second chance by now. The same goes for Caob as a chocolate substitute but I suspect that nothing could come close to chocolate.

Leah J. Utas said...

Nothing does, Hilary. Although, if you have to have something instead of chocolate, carob is okay. It's not so bad in baking.

Chicory is worth a second shot if you want to cut down on caffeine, and it is good for you.

Red said...

Sometimes chicory is added to coffee and it adds flavor. Some people do not like it at all. I can't remember having any.

Leah J. Utas said...

Red, I've had commercial coffee-chicory blends. They're not bad.

Dawn said...

Wow. I had no idea how to do this...or that you could! I'd like to try a cup.

Leah J. Utas said...

Dawn, stop in Rocky some day. I brew you one.

solarity said...

My parents always bought coffee with chicory added, having lived in New Orleans (and grown up in the south), and when I started grinding my own beans I bought chicory, too. The boutique local coffee place sold chicory because they, too, had spent time in New Orleans. Then when my allergist suggested I stay off coffee (as well as oranges, red wine, and a few other things high in tyramines that I can't remember) I drank chicory tea for a year and a half. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't coffee. I suppose if I couldn't buy it already ground and roasted, I'd try to do it myself, but I'd probably put less in my coffee than I do if I had to work at it.

Hilary, to me carob doesn't taste at all like chocolate: it tastes more like ginger. Quite nice in cookies, but not chocolatey at all. To my mother, it tasted almost exactly like chocolate. So your mileage may vary.

Mary Anne in Kentucky

Leah J. Utas said...

Mary Anne, am I to understand that coffee with chicory is a south thing? I had no idea until you and Messymimi brought it up.

Carob doesn't so much taste like chocolate to me as look like it. But, it is fine in its own right.

solarity said...

Chicory grows along roadsides through all of the southeast I've been in, so the year my roommate decided to try roasting some all she had to do was find a road that hadn't been sprayed with anything and dig some up. Legend has it that during the Civil War when coffee was extremely hard to get people drank chicory tea, and then after the war when they could get coffee again they added chicory to it to extend it (which is one of my reasons, besides the taste, for doing so) and got used to drinking it that way. New Orleans, in particular, is devoted to it. My parents, after moving back to Kentucky, actually ordered their coffee shipped from Salieri's grocery for many years, and they were emphatically not extravagant people. There's a line (pretty wiggly) across the south, below which you can expect to find Luzianne brand coffee in every grocery, pretty much along the line where your breakfast in a restaurant comes with grits whether you order them or not.

Leah J. Utas said...

Mary Anne, that's so interesting.I didn't know about the Civil War connection. Thanks.

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