Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Dandelion Wine (updated)

Dandelion Wine

Photo A Brown

My first attempt at wine-making will be dandelion wine.

There are scores of different recipes for making use of these unloved weeds.

But many of them seem to make things very complicated - or rely on grapes and other additions.

(If I'm going to use grapes, why not just make grape wine, I wonder?)

I adapted one of the simplest that I could find 
(from a place called the Twin Eagles School
-- dandelions, citrus, sugar and yeast:

•              1 gallon dandelion flowers
•              Juice and thinly sliced peels of 4 oranges
•              Juice and thinly sliced peels of a lemon
•              Small (approximately one inch) piece of ginger root
•              3 pounds sugar (6.25 cups)
•              One packet of yeast

"On a spring or summer day when it is sunny, go out and gather a gallon of dandelion flowers. Separate the yellow flower petals from the green sepals (the small green leaves under the flowers). The reason for this is because the green sepals are bitter in flavor and you don't want to put that flavor into your wine.
Put flower petals in a 3 gallon crock and pour a gallon of boiling water over them. Make sure that the dandelion flowers are fully covered and soaking in the boiling water. Cover and steep for three days.
After three days strain the flowers from the liquid and squeeze flowers to get all the juice from them. Pour into a cooking pot. At this stage in this dandelion wine recipe, add the ginger root, lemon and orange juice and peels to the liquid. Next add in sugar and gradually boil for 20 minutes.
Pour liquid back into crock and let cool. Now add the yeast. Pour into a fermenting jug snugly fitted with an airlock.
This will ferment anywhere from six days to three weeks while your liquid begins its' process of magically transforming into wine.
When the fermentation stops, transfer to sterilized bottles with caps or tightly fitted corks. Let stand for six months. During this process your wine is going to season. This is when the true alchemy of this dandelion wine recipe comes to completion."

 The only adjustments I made were to forgo the ginger, since I had none on hand - and I topped off my gallon fermenting jar with a couple of cups of honey water, since the recipe as written didn't quite make up a full gallon.  

This recipe calls for a lot of dandelion petals, but by the end - once I'd learned to pluck only the biggest, plumpest blossoms - and gotten down the proper petal-removing twist - I could harvest a quart of dandelion in 20 minutes.

It put not a dent in our supply.

The rule of thumb is that after you've bottled the wine, you can try it out at the winter solstice, but not before.  I'll have to post an update then!

UPDATE: June 19
It kept bubbling for quite a bit longer than 3 weeks, more like 5, but I finally bottled it a few days ago.  It's a pretty yellow color - though cloudy.  So now we wait.

UPDATE: December 29
One of the bottles blew it's cork at some point in the autumn, but the rest survived.  We opened one on mid-winter night.  It was cloudy (since I hadn't learned to rack wine properly on this, my first try) and sweet -- more port-like than wine like.  A decent sipping desert wine, maybe, but I'm going to give it to the spring equinox before I open another of the bottles.  It was far inferior to the rhubarb wine that I also opened that night.