Monday, February 03, 2014

Kitchen DIY: Coffee Substitutes.

Friday’s story of the burned bread and molasses “coffee” served to prisoners in a New York jail in the 1860’s, and the earlier story on  Breakfast Powder created a little interest, so I thought I would tempt you with a few more coffee substitutes. We have previously discovered that ersatz coffee can be made from:


Not surprisingly, most coffee substitutes were developed in America Рand the creative juices were running especially well during the Civil War, as the above links show. Today however, we are going to an English source - The Cyclopædia of Practical Receipts in all the Useful And Domestic Arts (London, 1841.)

The Practical Chemist who authored the book gives a number of recipes for coffee substitutes – or perhaps most of them should be considered as coffee extenders.

Acorn Coffee.
Sound acorns (ripe), peel them and roast them with a little butter, or fat, then, when cold, grind them with one third their weight of real coffee.

Coffee.Rice.
Good rice and roast and grind it, &c. in the same way as coffee.

Coffee. Rye.
Rye, and roast and grind it, like genuine coffee.
*This is similar to Hunt’s breakfast powder, Dellenius’ coffee, British coffee, &c.

Coffee. Iris or Sylvester.
The seeds of the yellow water flag, and treat them as for genuine coffee.
*This forms a most excellent substitute for the colonial article.

The book mentions a number of other potential substitutes - bread raspings, sassafras, and yellow beet – all to be dried and roasted “in the same way as coffee.”
Chicory is a well-known and enduring substitute for coffee. Our source for the day advises how to use it to “improve” coffee.  The chicory roots (Cichorium intybus) would of course be roasted “in the same way as coffee” before being ground with the real beans.

Coffee. To Improve.
Coffee, 13 parts.
Chicory, 3 parts.
Grind together.

The cyclopaedia has more coffee ideas for us. How about making your own coffee essence? Although, on second thoughts, you probably don’t have the equipment in your kitchen.

Coffee. Essence Of.
Coffee,            1 part.
Water,                         5 part.
Keep them at a heat of 209o Fahr. in a close vessel for ten minutes, then strain and evaporate at a low temperature in a vacuum, until reduced to one part.

Previously mentioned coffee substitutes.

2 comments:

Anne said...

My English Mother In Law told me that in London during WW11 they would make coffee from the seeds of the Copper Beech. Have you ever come across a recipe for this? I was curious as to whether they roasted the seeds first or how they would make it less bitter.

kitchencounterculture121 said...

"Barley Cup"