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Chicory Coffee

General Posts
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Chicory Coffee

Chicory Coffee

I finally got around to trying to roast the chicory root to try to make chicory coffee. I love the coffee substitutes you can buy: Dandy Blend (super expensive), Caffix, Roma… we call it “Kinder Coffee” around here because Ella likes to sip it. Usually a mixture of Roasted Chicory, sometimes roasted dandelion (the dandy blend), barley malt, rye, beet root powder.

You can buy straight roasted chicory in the super market, its meant to mix into coffee to lower the caffeine content. Chicory has a rich bitter flavor so it doesn’t “water down” the coffee when used like this.

Chicory Root

Chicory Root

Chicory - Cichorium intybus - is a roadside plant with beautiful blue flowers. Its leaves look like dandelion, except that chicory leaves are hairy (whereas dandelion leaves are hairless), and chicory leaves climb the flower stalk whereas dandelion leaves do not. Both plants have very similar properties of being beneficial to the liver. They are also both quite bitter, and are therefore good for digestion.

chicory flower

chicory flower

Dave harvesting chicory

Dave harvesting chicory

I washed the roots and sliced them up. I put them in a low temperature oven ~ 250 F. After a couple hours it was bedtime so I turned off the oven and left them in to dry out overnight.

In the morning I put the oven back on, alternating between 250 and 300. It was drying but not getting brown. After about 5 hours of this I just turned off the oven. It was really dried out and a little brown, but not really too much.

oven roasted chicory

oven roasted chicory

Next I ground it in a coffee grinder:

ground chicory root

ground chicory root

Then I decided to roast it in a dry iron pan over the gas burner until it did get a little brown.

ground chicory roasted on the stove

ground chicory roasted on the stove

I made the roasted chicory root “coffee” in a French press (using only the roasted chicory root, no real coffee):

roasted chicory root in a French press

roasted chicory root in a French press

It was very bitter! So I touched it up with some honey and cashew milk, with a little pumpkin pie spice sprinkled on top:

chicory "coffee" with honey and cashew milk

Yum!

* Note - when I make it again I will probably just dry the sliced chicory root it in the oven (or dehydrator) and dry roast it on the stove after grinding just before brewing. I may even add dandelion root (and possibly burdock root) as well, for my own Dandy (Chicory Burdock) Blend! I will dry those roots the same way, and grind and dry roast them (with the chicory) before brewing as well.

~ Melissa

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CSF week 8: Berries, Bitter herbs, and Broken Bones

CSF Newsletters
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This week's yummy share: white clover leaves, white clover flowers, chicory leaves, comfrey leaves (external use), mulberries, chicory root, serviceberries, mugwort leaves.

This week's yummy share: white clover leaves, white clover flowers, chicory leaves, comfrey leaves (external use), mulberries, chicory root, serviceberries, mugwort leaves.

All new things in your yummy share this week!

  • white clover leaves - soups, salad, stir fry
  • white clover flowers - soup, salad, stir fry
  • chicory leaves (bitter) - soup, salad, stir fry or dried
  • comfrey leaves - external use, in “honor” of Ella breaking her arm this week, dry for a “tea” used as a wash or bath to heal broken bones. Can also make into an oil which helps heal.
  • mulberries - white and purple - raw or cooked, yum
  • serviceberries/juneberries - raw or cooked, yum
  • chicory root - cut and dry for tea or roast and grind for coffee substitute
  • mugwort - steep in vinegar for mineral-rich vinegar, steam as a green (eat with caution, some people are sensitive), dry for “magical” uses: dream pillow (will enhance dreams), carried dried herb when traveling for protection, burn as a “smudge” to clear energy, similar to sage

What a share this week! All new things! Berries!

The very bitter chicory leaves are excellent for your liver, and also help digestion. They compliment the sweet berries very well. They can also be dried to use later as tea. They look like dandelion leaves don’t they? You’ll notice there are little hairs on these leaves while dandelion leaves are totally hairless. These leaves also climb up the flower stalk which you’ll see in the picture below, whereas dandelion flowers always stay in their rosettes on the ground.

Dave with the chicory.

Dave with the chicory

Two kinds of mulberries: white and purple, both are fully ripe! You’ll notice the white ones in general are sweet without the tartness of the purple. They can be eaten raw or cooked into desserts like pies.

ripe white and purple mulberries

ripe white and purple mulberries

The serviceberries (also called juneberries): the darker ones are more ripe. They can also be eaten raw or cooked into desserts. You’ll notice a delicious almond flavor in the tiny seeds.

serviceberries, aka juneberries

serviceberries, aka juneberries

The comfrey is included this week in honor of Ella, who broke her arm. The FDA recommends comfrey for external use only, due to a controversial alkaloid in the comfrey (the same one as in coltsfoot.) Even though comfrey has been used as long as food as been eaten and plants have been used as medicine, I feel I should pass along this information to you. There was a study where the alkaloid, when isolated and given to mice in large amounts, caused the mice to get liver cancer.

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Comfrey - Symphytum officianale - is still used homeopathically to treat broken bones as a remedy called Symphytum.  To use it externally it can be made into an oil by chopping it and steeping it in olive oil. After a couple weeks remove the comfrey from the oil so it won’t mold. The oil can then be rubbed over areas of broken bones, muscle pulls, tendon tears, it will even heal open sores. In fact it heals the skin so fast it is not recommended if there is infection (you don’t want the skin to heal over an infection. The infection should be treated first.)

Comfrey leaves can also be dried and then made into tea (or freshly made into tea), which can then be used as a soak over the area which needs healing. The dried herb can also be powdered and mixed into an oil like olive or coconut and rubbed on the area. Fresh leaves can also be bruised and placed directly over the area of a broken bone.

Chicory roots should be cleaned (not washed if air drying, but it’s ok to wash in water if you’re drying in a dehydrator or roasting in the oven) and chopped and then either dried for tea (excellent for the liver) or roasted and ground to use as a coffee subsitute.

I washed mine, sliced it, and put it in an oven on 250 for a couple hours, then I turned off the oven but left them in there over night. The next day I turned the oven back on and roasted on 250 - 300 until dried and brown (it took quite a few hours.) Next I will grind in a coffee grinder and brew into coffee.

Clover flowers and leaves can be used in salads, soups and stir-fries.

Mugwort, or Artemisia vulgaris, is a special herb. It can be eaten with caution - some people are sensitive to this plant and may even get reactions upon touching. In Asia it is used as a steamed veggie and also made into pasta (you may have seen mugwort soba noodles at the health food store or Asian markets.) It is mineral-rich so the leaves can be soaked in vinegar and then the vinegar can be used in recipes.

Mugwort can also be dried. If you hang it to dry in your bedroom don’t be surprised if you have wild dreams! Mugwort is often made into “dream pillows.” It enhances dreams. It can also be carried in pouches (or on the windshield of your car as I did when I traveled to and from Maine to Boston for acupuncture school in the 1990’s.) It protects travelers. I also love to dry it and then burn it as a smudge to clear the energy, similar to how sage is used (but this is local!)

Mugwort is one of the herbs commonly used in acupuncture and Chinese medicine for moxibustion: in which this herb is burned over specific points on the skin.

I hope you enjoy this week’s share!

~ Melissa

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Backyard Edibles: The Food Under My Feet

General Posts
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Peaches

Peaches

In my small urban backyard which is only twenty feet by sixty feet, I am able to identify and collect over 80 edible plants, especially if I walk down my street and make use of other plants in the neighborhood.

Most of these plants are literally wild and grow there by chance. Others I have transplanted to the yard, and they now return year after year. Some, like Japanese Knotweed, are quite invasive and I am happy they are not in my yard, but I can easily harvest them around the neighborhood. And some food, fruit bushes and trees like peach, fig, blueberry and blackberry, I have planted.

The following is a list of wild plants, separated into categories, of what grows in my tiny yard (and these are only the things I identify and use! There are plenty of other plants which I don’t know or do not know how to use hanging out as well.)

Totally Wild in My Yarddandelionflowers

1. Dandelion
2. Yellow Dock
3. Chickweed
4. Lambs Quarters
5. Amaranth
6. Quickweed
7. Lady’s Thumbprint
8. Garlic Mustard
9. Broad Leaved Plantain
10. Narrow Leaved Plantain
11. Red Clover
12. White Clover
13. Sorrel
14. Wood Sorrel
15. Shephard’s Purse
16. Cress (Peppercress)
17. Purslane
18. Wild Carrot/Queen Anne’s Lace (though we don’t use this as a rule, because of its resemblance to hemlock)

Transplanted to my yard, but considered a wild plant

Oyster Mushrooms

Oyster Mushrooms

1. Nettles
2. Comfrey
3. Blackberries
4. Black Raspberry
5. Oyster Mushrooms
6. Lemon Balm
7. Violets

In my neighborhood, an easy walk from my front door

1. Burdock
2. Black Walnut
3. Acorns
4. Japanese Knotweed
5. Chicory
6. Mulberries
7. Wild Cherries, Tart and Sweet
8. Maple (Maple Syrup, if I were to tap them)
9. Cleavers
10. Thistles
11. Sumac
12. Wild Grapes

Plants I use only as medicine (most of the plants above are medicinal as well as edible, but the following I use only as medicine or herbs)

Feverfew...This one's in a pot, there is more in the yard

Feverfew...This one's in a pot, there is more in the yard

1. Mugwort
2. Mullein
3. St. John’s Wort
4. Motherwort
5. Catnip
6. Feverfew

Food Plants Which I Have Added To My Yard

1. Grapes/Grape Leaves
2. Fig
3. Strawberries
4. Peach Tree
5. Plum Tree
6. Cherry Tree
7. Kale (3 Varieties)
8. Beets
9. Carrots
10. Radishes
11. Tomatoes
12. Arugula
13. Spinach
14. Zucchini
15. Broccoli
16. Collard Greens
17. Chard
18. Fennel
19. Cucumbers
20. Pepper
21. Asian Pear Trees…3 trees/varieties
22. Blueberries

Edible Flowers

Calendula Flowers

Calendula Flowers

1. Calendula
2. Nasturtiums
3. Borage
4. Day Lily
5. Squash Flowers
6. Violets
7. Pansy
8. Sunflowers (Seeds)

Cultivated Herbs (if not mentioned above)

1. Basil
2. Rosemary
3. Thyme
4. Lemon Thyme
5. Peppermint
6. Spearmint
7. Apple Mint
8. Oregano
9. Sage
10. Cilantro
11. Dill
12. Parsley
13. Chives

What do you have in your yard?

Enjoy the harvest!

Melissa

Birch Center for Health
Food Under Foot

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Walking With The SCA

General Posts, Identification
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We had a great time going on a wild edibles walk with students of Pittsburgh’s SCA (Student Conservation Association.)
We knew we wouldn’t find any along the south side river trail, so we brought along some beautiful sky-blue chicory, which is in bloom all along the roadsides and all over the city these days.
We sampled herbal tea which had chicory in it, and discussed it’s use as a coffee substitute (drying and roasting the roots.)

(You can read more about chicory in my article in Natural News here.)

We did have some great finds along the south side trail that day, including:

  • Dandelion
    dandelion leaf rosette

    dandelion leaf rosette

  • Burdock
  • Garlic Mustard
  • Purslane - delicious succulent plant, high in omega fatty acids
    Purslane - High in Omega Fatty Acids

    Purslane - High in Omega Fatty Acids

  • Lamb’s Quarters - delicious “wild spinach” (please sign up for our newsletter (top right) for lots more info about lambs quarters!)
  • Japanese Knotweed
  • Mugwort
  • Staghorn Sumac (which we all sampled the sumac lemonade we had made for them, see previous post.)
    Staghorn Sumac - we soaked the red clusters in water for a lemony drink

    Staghorn Sumac - we soaked the red clusters in water for a lemony drink

  • Poisonous Crown Vetch - the variety Penngift was made in Pennsylvania, to plant along the highway to prevent soil erosion…with limited results. The soil continues to erode, and while cows and other ruminant can safely eat the plant, which is high in nitroglyceride, it is poisonous to horses and other non-ruminants. It spreads very easily as well.
  • Wild Carrot - which, though edible, we do not eat because of it’s similar appearance to the very deadly Water Hemlock and Poison Hemlock
    Queen Anne's Lace/Wild Carrot

    Queen Anne's Lace/Wild Carrot

  • Mullein - an herb which benefits the lungs, and often smoked by Native Americans for that purpose
    First Year Mullein basal rosette

    First Year Mullein basal rosette

  • St. John’s Wort - an herb used to treat depression
    St. John's Wort

    St. John's Wort

Here are some pictures of what the kids and adults of the SCA:

walking and talking with folks of the SCA

walking and talking with folks of the SCA

Pittsburgh Student Conservation Association

Pittsburgh Student Conservation Association

Finding Garlic Mustard Under The Trees

Finding Garlic Mustard Under The Trees


Reviewing what we'd identified

Reviewing what we'd identified

If you’d like more information about scheduling a wild edible walk for your group, please visit our wild event page. Or you can call Melissa at (412) 381-0116, or email to Melissa@FoodUnderFoot.com.

Thanks!
~ Melissa Sokulski, Herbalist
Food Under Foot

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Chicory: Wild Edible and Herbal Healer

General Posts, Herb, Identification, Medicinal
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One wild edible plant you’ll find in bloom this time of year along city roadsides, fields and waste areas is beautiful, sky-blue chicory (Cichorium intybus). Not only is chicory edible, but it has a long tradition of medicinal use, especially to detoxify the liver.

Chicory Flower

Chicory Flower

If you pay attention, you’ll notice that chicory flowers open and close precisely the same time every day.

Chicory is similar to dandelion in many ways. For one thing, the leaves look very similar, and another, they are both especially good for the liver. Another similarity is that chicory leaves can be eaten in early spring, but get quite bitter once the plant flowers. The roots can be dug, dried and roasted to use as a coffee substitute, and in fact is commonly used in that respect in commercial teas and coffee substitutes.

The roots can also be dug and planted in a dark cellar, and the plant will grow small pale leaf heads: we know this vegetable as Belgian endive; it is the same species as roadside chicory (Cichorium intybus.)

Chicory root is used medicinally as a decoction (strong tea) or tincture (steeped in alcohol) and used to clear the liver. Eating the chicory leaves or Belgium endive is used to treat Liver fire: bursting headache, thirst, congested face and fever.

Chicory Growing Along Gate in Pittsburgh

Chicory Growing Along Gate in Pittsburgh

Chicory is used to treat all kinds of liver ailments, including jaundice, gall stones (and urinary stones), moodiness, depression, constipation, indigestion, headache and right side pain under the ribs.

The milky sap of the chicory is used similarly to dandelion: to promote lactation in breastfeeding women.

Chicory in bloom is an erect, branched plant, with alternate leaves and sky-blue (or sometimes pink or white) flowers.

The root can be harvested in the fall, when the plant stops flowering.

Let us know if you have chicory blooming near you…and other uses you have for it!

Thanks,
~ Melissa
Food Under Foot

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