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A Coffee Substitute

Every Western book I've read somewhere mentions Chicory Coffee. None of the books mentioned that it was particularly good tasting - but they kept on drinking it as a substitute for coffee. So can you. It's a wild plant found throughout the country.

(Cichorium intybus) is a hardy perennial that was brought to North America from Europe in the 1700s, and is now well-established across the continent. Though chicory has a variety of uses, it's best known for its association with coffee.

At many points through history, coffee has become unavailable or too costly. During these times, people have often turned to roasted chicory as a substitute. Folks also used to make coffee from roasted acorns, yams and a variety of local grains. Anything was better than going without!

The root of the chicory plant is long and thick, like the tap-root of the dandelion. When dried, roasted and ground, it makes an excellent substitute for coffee. There is no caffeine in chicory, and it produces a more 'roasted' flavor than coffee does.

Common chicory (Cichorium intybus) is a bushy perennial herb with blue or lavender flowers. It blooms from May to October. It is originally from the Old World and was naturalized in North America, where it has become a roadside weed. The roots are baked, ground, and used as a coffee substitute in the plant's Mediterranean region of origin. Common chicory is also known as blue sailors, succory, and coffeeweed. Chicoryt has a tough taproot, which is hard to pull up. This means that the Chicory plant can survive even after animals have eaten its leaves.

Many folk enjoy a cup of 'coffee' made entirely from ground, roasted chicory.
Another perk about chicory is that it's more soluble in water than coffee, which means you use a lot less of it when brewing. Very economical for someone on a tight budget.
Chicory also offers extra health benefits that you wouldn't normally get from your cup of coffee. It is reported to help cleanse the blood and improve the health of your liver.
The young leaves can be used in salads, and the root can also be boiled and eaten like a vegetable (it's related to endive and radicchio). It's also grown for cattle food in Europe. The flowers are blue-purple, and will open and close at precisely the same time every day.

Native Americans boiled the roots to make a wash for fever sores and steeped the roots to create a nerve tonic.

Found in waste areas, disturbed sites and along roadsides.

Chicory will appear spontaneously if you don't mow the lawn. It grows on roadsides, in waste places, and in overgrown fields. Chicory will be found at altitudes below 4500'. When World War II disrupted shipping, most U.S. "coffee" was produced from chicory. Caffeine-free, it is regaining popularity.

The ancient Greeks and Romans esteemed its use as a liver stimulant, and it is also found to be beneficial to the spleen and bladder. It can be externally applied as a herbal paste or poultice to relieve inflammation and swellings. (Rogue Turtle cannot confirm nor deny any of the health claims in this article. I‘ve only used it once in coffee. It‘s NOT Maxwell House, but like the man says, it‘s better than nothing. (I have wild Chicory in my front yard, seemingly in place of grass.)