Chicory is a weed that replaces coffee and helps you lose weight.
Probably, everyone ever paid attention to bushes sometimes up to 1.5 meters high with bright blue flowers, something similar to cornflowers. And this bush grows literally everywhere. But not everyone knows that this is the very chicory from which a tasty and healthy drink is prepared. This article will discuss the useful and medicinal properties of chicory, on the preparation and methods of its use. And, of course, about how you can make a drink “almost like coffee” from it.
A brief botanical description of the plant
Mankind has been familiar with chicory for thousands of years. There are ancient Egyptian papyrus dating from 1536 BC, in which chicory is mentioned.
There are many types of this plant, but only two are used for food - this is salad chicory and ordinary chicory. This article will discuss ordinary chicory.
Common chicory (Cichorium intubus L.) - a perennial herbaceous plant with a height of 30 to 150 cm with a thickened spindle-shaped root, a straight stem and widespread branches. Belongs to the family of asters. The flowers are mostly blue, but sometimes there are white and even pink. It blooms from June to August.
A common weed from Africa to Siberia. The plant is very sensitive to light levels. Chicory flowers open in the morning, as soon as it starts to darken - they close.
In nature, chicory can be found in meadows, clearings, grassy slopes, in vacant lots, fields, along roads and even in mountains. Some gardeners grow it on flower beds - it looks very decorative during flowering.
Chicory was especially popular in Europe during the Second World War, when serious problems arose with the supply of coffee and began to be offered as a replacement.
The chemical composition and medicinal properties of chicory
Now the most interesting: modern medicine has proven that chicory contains a unique polysaccharide - inulin, which positively affects metabolism. In particular, it lowers blood sugar and enhances metabolism, which is important for people who are overweight or obese.
Inulin also lowers blood cholesterol and triglycerides, which provoke atherosclerosis and other diseases. Inulin normalizes the intestinal microflora and, passing through the entire gastrointestinal tract, helps to remove heavy metals and toxic substances that enter the body along with food.
Scientists have also proven that, unlike coffee, chicory does not remove calcium from the body, but rather helps to absorb it from food.
Dried chicory root contains up to 75% inulin.
In addition to inulin, chicory contains protein substances, intibin glycoside, which gives a bitter taste to the drink, tannins, and organic acids. It is rich in vitamins of groups B, C, A, E, K, macro- and microelements: such as zinc, magnesium, manganese, calcium, iron, and also pectin and carotene.
Due to its rich composition, chicory has been used for centuries in folk medicine for diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, heartburn, cirrhosis of the liver, arthritis, intoxication of the body, bacterial infections, cardiovascular diseases, as well as to enhance immunity.
For medicinal purposes, all parts of the plant are used. The leaves of chicory are edible and are used in salads or as a side dish, they can be eaten raw or baked, stewed, boiled.
Since ancient times, chicory leaves were added to livestock in the villages, because they contain a lot of protein, vitamins and minerals - they are very nutritious. It is noticed that wild animals (moose, deer) also eat chicory leaves.
An infusion of chicory flowers calms the nervous system, and from a root containing the greatest amount of inulin, make a drink similar to coffee. It also has a tonic property, only, unlike coffee, it does not deplete the nervous system, because it does not have caffeine.
In general, a drink from chicory root has general strengthening properties, improves immunity. By the way, due to the fact that chicory root contains a large amount of sugars, syrup is made from it, which is used by confectioners.
A drink from chicory also has an astringent, antimicrobial effect, increases appetite, and reduces perspiration.
How do I harvest and store chicory
The Internet is full of recipes for preparing all kinds of side dishes and chicory salads. But I'm interested in its flowers and, most importantly - the roots.
I collect flowers during mass flowering - this is July-August. In the morning, always in dry sunny weather. Tearing a little - I just feel sorry for them. Then I leave the flowers to dry on the veranda between two sheets of paper and then store them in a paper bag.
Tea or "napar" of such flowers is good to take in the evening with insomnia, in stressful situations. Chicory flowers are an excellent sedative.
The situation is different with the roots. They must be harvested in the fall - from late August to September (when the sap flow stops in the plant) or in early spring (before it begins).
I collect roots in the fall when the plant begins to wilt. It is very convenient to do this after a good rain or even a downpour, when the earth gets wet as it should - chicory has a root root, it is very well pulled out of the ground.
Another way (when there is no rain) is to simply dig it with a shovel. The root of chicory is very deep, up to 1.5 meters in depth, so I physically can’t dig it all out, and therefore I will not bring damage to the plant - next year it will necessarily grow from the remaining piece of root.
So, after I gathered my roots and brought them home, they need to be washed thoroughly. To do this, I soak them in cold water for a while, after which they are washed very well.
Further, everyone does things differently. Someone says that the roots must be cleaned, someone - that in no case impossible. Therefore, I chose a middle ground for myself - I try to rinse them well with water, and if in some places I can’t clean it from the ground, then I clean it with a knife.
Then the root should be dried a little with paper towels and chopped. To admit, this is not easy. Thin roots can still be cut with a knife, but if the root is at least as thick as a finger, it has a very hard core and it is already impossible to cut such a root.
Some even take out the core because of this and throw it away. It can be easily removed if you twist the root in different directions with both hands. But after all, the core also contains useful substances, so I leave it.
And I grind the root, cutting it first with a secateurs across into small pieces, and then gently with a knife I split it lengthwise into finer fibers. Perhaps a potato peeling tool is suitable for these purposes.
Some chicory lovers, after chopping the roots, allow the pieces to dry, then grind and everything - then they simply brew it like tea. At the same time, it is possible to maximally preserve all useful substances in chicory, because we know that heat treatment destroys them.
But many, after grinding, roast the root in a pan, like coffee beans, and only then send them to the coffee grinder. At the same time, chicory acquires a pleasant smell, golden brown color and in fact becomes to taste like coffee.
But you need to consider that at a temperature of + 180 ... + 200aboutAlmost all of its useful properties are lost. Therefore, here I chose a middle ground for myself - I put the chopped chicory roots in the oven on a baking sheet at a temperature of 40-50aboutWith for a few hours. And when the pleasant smell starts to spread, nutty and slightly caramel - I pull my chicory from the oven.
Then it remains only to grind in a coffee grinder, pour into a clean, dry, glass jar and store in a dark place, in a closet, for example.
How to make "coffee" from chicory
So, we have chicory root powder, now we just have to make “coffee” from it. To do this, I take a small teapot for tea (I will not cook it in Turk, like coffee). Instead of a kettle, a mug is also suitable. 1.5 teaspoons of chicory root powder pour 200 ml of boiling water. I give a little stand. In fact, I got a pair of root.
Next, I need a small strainer, through it I filter the liquid from the kettle into a cup. The drink is ready. It has a tonic effect on me and, as my homeworkers remarked, it lifts my mood.
He, in fact, does not look like coffee, except in color. The chicory drink has its own bitter taste and a very pleasant nutty caramel flavor. This is a healthy and at the same time very tasty drink.
Who should not drink a drink from chicory?
As in the case of medicinal herbs or with herbal teas, I want to say a few words about contraindications to the use of chicory drink. The root of the plant contains a lot of oxalates, therefore it can not be used for people with urolithiasis, kidney disease, low blood pressure, anemia or stomach ulcers.
In addition, chicory drink should be drunk with caution for people prone to allergies and pregnant women. Therefore, if in doubt, it is better to consult a doctor.