If you have access to a patch of dandelions that haven't been sprayed, try digging up some roots and turning them into a tasty coffee substitute.
This is the season to make Dandelion coffee, after a frost has sent the last of the sugars down to the roots, ready for winter. The bigger roots are better for making coffee, however, the old gnarly roots should be avoided. Regardless of how many you manage to dig up, the method for making "coffee" is the same. Although it is strictly speaking, a root tea, it has many of the characteristics of real coffee. With a bitter/sweet coffee-like flavor, with hints of chocolate and caramel.
Recipe: Dandelion Coffee
Dandelion roots (medium/large are best), cleaned and dried.
Grind the roots up fine in a food processor until they resemble brown rice.
Spread the granules out on a baking tray
Put the tray in a 225 degree oven for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until the granules are completely dehydrated
Turn the oven up to 330 degrees and roast granules for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure an even roast
Turn heat up to 350 and bake for about 15 minutes more, checking regularly, until the granules begin to smoke. This happens as the sugars in the roots begin to caramelize. That's the time to take the tray out of the oven.
To deepen the flavor, stir the tray and put it back in for 5 minutes, but be careful not to over roast it or sugars may burn then char, leaving a light, week coffee, that tastes like an extinguished campfire.
When you are happy with the roast*, remove tray from the oven and let cool.
After the granules have cooled, store in an airtight, non-metallic container. I keep mine in the freezer for long term storage.
To prepare, put one to two heaped teaspoons of grounds per cup into a teapot or jug. Pour on boiling water (enough for the number of cups) and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
A quicker way is to put the coffee into a pan of boiling water, boil for about 30 seconds, then turn off the heat.
Let stand for a minute, then pour.
You may need to use a strainer when pouring it out.
You can drink it as is, or add milk.
Root cleaning tips:
Wash the roots thoroughly.
Use a vegetable brush to remove stubborn dirt, especially in crevices.
Rinse the cleaned roots until the water runs clear.
Dry them off in a towel then put them on a baking tray in a low oven (about 200 degrees) for about 15 minutes until dry to the touch.
Developing the ideal roast:
To test the roast, make a small cup of coffee and taste it. If it isn't rich enough, stir up the grains and put them back into the oven for 5 minutes.
Make another cup. Continue this procedure until you reach the ideal roast. Then take a small amount and put it back into the oven, to see what happens.
This will allow you to gauge the roast, and decide what you prefer.
I made this video several years ago. It has remained one of my favorites...