Harvesting and roasting dandelion roots for tea

It’s that time of year again, when chilly fall weather makes a hot cup of tea ever so appealing. I love to turn my garden plants into a hearty cup. Roasted dandelion roots make for an especially full-bodied tea. Malty, earthy, with a little bitter note, it was a traditional coffee substitute among poor people and during times of coffee scarcity. Apparently it has lately become known as a superfood, but don’t let that keep you from enjoying a cup.

Dandelion tea is commercially available, though the flavor isn’t quite the same. If you are going to harvest your own, make sure to use dandelions that have not been sprayed with chemicals.

Using a spade or other sturdy digging implement, dig up as many dandelion roots as you can manage. I recommend recruiting children or other family members in this effort to get as many roots as possible. Scrub and wash the roots repeatedly until they no longer color the water they are being washed in.

Run the clean roots through the food processor or chop them using a sharp knife. Spread them out in a thin layer on a lined cookie sheet and let them dry for a day or so. (To speed up the process, use a dehydrator or oven at no more than 200°F) Finally, roast the roots in the oven at 350°F. Start checking on the roots after about 10 minutes and take them out of the oven when the color matches your roast preference.

To maximize yield, grind the roasted roots in a coffee grinder.

How to make dandelion tea

Brew using 8-12 ounces of boiling water per teaspoon of dandelion root powder. Steep 5-10 minutes. Strain out grounds using a tea strainer. Sweeten to taste and enjoy with a little milk or lemon.

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