I like coffee. Too much. Not only is it an expensive habit but I’m not entirely convinced it’s good for you – particularly when big business gets their hands on it. Like everything else I’m doing, it was time to find an alternative that I could make myself and know exactly what had gone into my coffee.
Coffee is made from coffee beans, themselves derived from the coffee tree (which is belong to the Runiaceae family). Some coffee trees can last up to 70 years. The two most common coffee trees are the coffea arabica and the ‘robusta’ from the Coffea canephora which account for over 80% of all coffee today.
Coffee substitutes have been made from a variety of ingredients in times of war and crisis – or just during plain poverty. Dandelion root, wheat and chicory are just some of the ingredients that have been used along with parsnip.
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To make parsnip coffee, grate the parsnip (including the skin) on a cheese grater – the smaller the grating level the better. Place the grated parsnip on a tray to dehydrate for the day. If you have the time, leaving the tray near a window which gets a lot of sun is an easy, if slow, solution.
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Fire up the oven and pop the tray of parsnip in. It takes about 20 minutes (depending on your oven temperature) for the parsnip to brown. I normally keep it in the oven until it goes black but that’s just a personal preference.
Leave the parsnip to cool slowly and naturally.
Once the parsnip has cooled, place in an airtight jar for storage. I usually ground mine at this stage into a fine powder using a pestle and mortar.
To make coffee, just take one teaspoon of the ground parsnip and add to a cup of water. Depending on how fine you have ground it, bits may float around in your coffee. You could use a muslin cloth to strain the ‘coffee’ powder. You may also add milk, cream or sugar.
Depending on your level of coffee expertise, parsnip coffee may be a solid substitute or a horrendous experience. I find it just fine, probably similar to shop branded coffees. There is a slight parsnip taste, but nothing overpowering.
Well worth a try.