Fake it until you make it

There was a break in the weather, so I decided to crack on regardless of the muddy, floody grass around the garden.  The raised beds themselves had drained nicely, so the soil structure around the garden just had to take a hit for the team.  I did lay planks down in the places I’d be working the most in an exercise in damage limitation.

Chicory leaves
Step one: Give the leaves to the chickens

Deciding what to aim for first wasn’t too difficult.  I really want to get my onions into proper soil.  They should have been in weeks ago.  The problem was I couldn’t just plant them into the garden, because the soil hadn’t been enriched since the tomatoes went in last season.

Dig out the chicory roots
Step two: Dig out the chicory roots

And I couldn’t enrich the soil because there was a mustard cover crop in there, that had been in a tad too long because of the rain.  It was beginning to flower.  This wasn’t a good sign because the stems would start to go woody making it harder for the organisms in my soil to break down and if left much longer would go to seed.

Washed chicory roots
Step three: Remove all traces of mud from the roots

I didn’t want to dig the cover crop into the bed they were growing in as they wouldn’t break down in time to benefit the onions that really should go in tomorrow.  So I had decided to dig them into the bed the tomatoes are going to go into this season and give the benefit there.

Peeled chicory roots
Step four: Peel the roots because they looked excessively hairy and cut into evenly sized slices

The problem with this is I’d popped a nursery bed on the end of the bed in the early autumn because it seemed like a good idea at the time, and would have been, had I not been distracted by a rather large project. So there they all were jammed in tight as a lesson in why it isn’t a good idea to plant things too close.  The brassicas where all showing signs of not amounting to anything and the coriander had been and gone, the leeks were still salvageable.  As for the rest  – all that remained was a faded label to mark where they would have been.  And then there was the chicory.

Roast chicory roots
Step five: Roast at about 150C for about and hour and a half

As the bed needed clearing I got tough with myself and lobbed the past it coriander and incredibly leggy brassicas to the compost heap. I heeled in the leeks among the past it spinach in another bed for the moment and then all that was left was the chickory.  I’d heard it was good for a winter salad, but it was way too bitter for me.  It would seem it was even way too bitter for the slugs and snails as they had barely touched it in the months it had been languishing in the garden.  I ripped the tops off and gave it to the chickens.  I hope they liked it, but I doubt it.

Dehydrate roasted chicory roots
Step six: Finish the roasted chicory roots in the dehydrator to remove all the moisture without burning them.

The chicory roots were difficult to remove and when I eventually dislodged them they reminded me of my finest parsnips.  I vaguely remembered you could make a coffee substitute from chicory root so I had a brief look at The Great Big Internet, to get the gist of how to do it and then gave it a whirl.

Ground chicory powder
Step seven: Grind the dehydrated chicory roots into a fine powder in your strongest blender

After a day of peeling, roasting, dehydrating and whizzing it all to a fine powder I can say …  ummm, I don’t think I like it.  Having said that I’m not a great coffee drinker in the first place.  I did have high hopes as while it was roasting, this incredible chocolatey aroma drifted out from the kitchen and over the garden.  But as I was whizzing it up it smelt more of roast carrot – without the carroty bit.

Brew chicory coffee
Step eight: Add two tablespoons of chicory powder to one cup of boiling water and leave for five minutes to ‘brew’

But needless to say I pushed on and popped some in the coffee plunger and added the boiling water and hoped for the best.  It looked like coffee, but that is where the similarity ended.  Drinking it as it comes was out of the question.  It was quite bad.  But I like my coffee with a touch of sugar and a dash of milk so I dressed up the chicory coffee in the same way.  Yeah Nah….  Not my favourite thing to drink.  Hubby the Un-Gardener actually spat it out when he gave it a try.  I on the other hand went to all the trouble of growing it, peeling it, roasting it, dehydrating it and whizzing it up, the least I could do was finish the cup.  This didn’t improve my opinion of it, but at least I tried.  I might plant a real coffee bush.

Chicory coffee
Step nine: Enjoy… well do your best to enjoy.

Come again soon – the strange after taste in the back of my throat may be gone by then.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

4 thoughts on “Fake it until you make it

  1. Haha that is hilarious! You have inspired me not to plant chicory. 😉 I am feeling your pain with the sodden ground though. I’m running behind on everything too thanks to the poopy weather but ah well, what can we do? One day the pruning and digging and planting will get done…

    1. Hi Twiglet. It was fun to do and the rest of the jar will probably sit in the back of the cupboard for when we run out of coffee and get desperate!
      The weather couldn’t possibly be horrible for ever. Nicer days will come.
      Cheers Sarah : o)

  2. I believe, most of the better tasting ones are actually a mixture with (barley) malt. Adding sugar for caramelisation as the last step of roasting may bring out a more typical coffee taste.

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