Summer time is a time to ramble down highways and country roads. We see many wildflowers, some in bloom, some spent. For me, August is the color of blue and golds. Goldenrods fill the fields and byways along with black eyed Susans. The light blue purple chicory flower adds a contrast of color that easily captures our eye with its beautiful star-like petals of blue. And is often found right by our roads whether highways or exit and entry ramps, medians and of course in fields.
Caution: It is never wise to gather plants near roads. The ground is polluted with exhaust fumes and tars.
Chicory: Chicorium intybus; a perennial plant native to Europe, India and Egypt.
Parts Used: Leaves: gather in mid summer; roots: gather in late summer,
Uses: the tender leaves can be chopped and used in salads. Tea, made from their roots, is often used in coffee like beverages because it does not contain caffeine. The root is also used to mellow coffee. In reviewing the literature, chicory uses and effects seems to temper the caffeine effects of coffee which is why it has been mixed with coffee. It is consumed in large amounts in many parts of the world with little or no side effects. However, if you notice chicory at the edges of your gardens and forests try tender leaves in salad. Chop like you would dandelion greens.
Health Benefits: Dr Weil tells us: “in terms of glucose control, the root contains up to 40% inulin, which is a zero on the glycemic index, so it has a negligible effect on raising blood sugar. This makes it a favorable choice among diabetics and a small study in 2015 show early promise that chicory root could actually help delay the onset of diabetes.”
Practical tips: its bitter much like dandelion root which is why it is favored in coffee substitute beverages. I have found it difficult to harvest. It can be found in compacted or dry soils and they are difficult to dig. also critters get after the roots too. I find the ones near my garden and meadow areas are worth digging for. I wash, chop roots and let them dry. They can be added to your teas or by itself for a strong coffee like brew.
Also one can mix them with dandelion root.. Both impart bitter coffee like flavors. Does this tea taste like coffee? No, but the bitter flavor is close.
Any other recipes? I would enjoy hearing from you.