Updated: Feb 9, 2021
Yes its true! In Britain and Europe we have a plant that is in the same family as coffee and it grows prolifically and you can forage it for free, maybe even from your own garden!
The dried and roasted seeds can be used as a coffee substitute and it does actually taste of coffee. Maybe for those coffee connoisseurs out there you might disagree with the level of comparison but the satisfaction of making your own coffee substitute cannot be underestimated! And I found it a better coffee substitute than dandelion root.
You may already be familiar with this plant even if you haven't used it for any culinary purposes. Goosegrass (Galium aparine) is a very sticky green plant, caused from the hook-like bristles covering the stems and as children you may have used it to play tricks on friends by sticking it on their backs.
After you boil the leaves, the hooks lose their sharpness and they are fine to eat as a greens substitute. Goosegrass is used in herbal medicine and one of its properties is clearing the lymphatic system. We couldn't live without our lymphatic system which helps to rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials. You can make a cleansing cold infusion by leaving the fresh young leaves in cold water overnight. Strain it the following day and enjoy the refreshing water the next day.
Later in the season in summer or early winter you can gather the seeds. The first time I did it I picked them one by one and then found a much more effective way, with a clean sock or glove!
Below, top right is the fresh young plant in spring. Later in the growing season it will develop seeds. Collect them when they are brown, dry roast the seeds in a fry pan, grind them up and voila! Your native coffee substitute!
If you would like to learn more about foraging, why not book a 1:1 course or with a groups of friends? Please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org