BUSHCRAFT FOOD: ACORN OR DANDELION COFFEE?

It’s not a tough call, to be honest, but I may as well hold out the suspense for what it’s worth and mention making both, as I tried to recently.

Making acorn coffee is fairly simple if a little labour intensive. You need to pick the acorns while they are still green, but only picking the larger ones that come easily from off the tree. After the boring task of de-shelling the acorns, you have to boil them to remove the excess tannins, chop them up and then roast them until they are crumbly and brittle, ready to crush into a rough powder. You would then prepare it like you would fresh coffee.

The only trouble is that acorn coffee generally tastes horrible. It is basically just bitter brown water. And if you boil the acorns several times you end up with slightly less bitter brown water, still a million miles away from a good cup of joe. I know you can’t be too choosy when it comes to bushcraft food, but as coffee is not particularly nutritious there is no point making it unless you are going to enjoy it.

Now dandelion coffee is something else entirely. The coffee is made from the roots of the plant, which is a little more difficult to get than one might think. For one thing, make sure you find a plant that is not located anywhere likely to be directly exposed to weed killer, pesticides or excessive car fumes. Then you might notice that unless the surrounding soil is soft, dandelions roots have a pretty firm grip, and are likely to break when pulled out, so digging around the plant to extract it whole might be necessary. You are after the main thick central root. This will need a good clean after which the white root pulp needs to be hung to dry in the sun or over a heater. I chopped the roots up and hung them of a single piece of string to keep them together. Once dry I then roasted the roots in an oven until they were golden brown and brittle. I say, brittle, they were still tough as hell. I had hoped at that point to crush them into a powder, but they weren’t having any of it, so I had to resort to slicing them into smaller pieces using a very sharp knife. This tempts me to think that I probably should have cut them into tiny pieces before roasting them, but I’m not sure if they would have then been prone to just burning off in the oven. Anyway, I eventually had my pieces of dandelion roots. Just like for the acorn coffee, I placed the chopped dandelion roots in a percolator and prepared it like fresh coffee through the power of steam, though I’m sure boiling it in a pan would have worked too.

I was hoping it would taste better than acorn coffee, but I wasn’t prepared for something that tasted so much like coffee – instant coffee, oddly enough – that halfway through my cup I had already forgotten this was made from dandelion roots. I was even able to recycle the used roots to make another cup.

So there you have it. Dandelion coffee is the way forward, just save the acorn coffee for people you don’t like.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: ON A FORAGING TRIP « Common Ground Community Garden
  2. cliff
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 10:13:33

    (Almost) entirely agree. Didn’t boil the acorns and don’t think they needed it. Was still very bland. Dandelion roots can be left any warm dry place and forgotten about till needed. Best to chop them up first as they are softer and dry quicker and roast more evenly. Made mine in espresso pot and was surprisingly like very dark espresso. Secret is to roast it dark right through or your coffee tastes like dandelions. This

    Reply

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