Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dandelion Wine - Part 1

When life gives you a couple acres full of dandelions...

... make wine!!

Sounds bizarre, right?  I agree, but Michael has been wanting to try this for years.  We figure, what better chance are we going to get than when I look out and see our entire yard covered in them.  Plus, it was a reasonably nice day and girls were all for going outside to pick flowers.  Worst case scenario - we spend an enjoyable afternoon picking flowers, a couple hours time making the wine (over the next several months), and it tastes awful.  We still get the experience and to say that we've tried it.

Disclaimer:  I have never made nor tasted dandelion wine.  I am by no means an expert on the matter.  But if you want to give it a shot, I figure I'll write it up as we go and we can make it together!  So here goes nothing...

Dandelion Wine - Part 1 - Pick, Pull, and Steep

- 6-7 cups dandelion petals (about 1/2 gallon or so of picked dandelion flowers)
- 1 gallon water (remove 1 pint, we will use that later)
- large air tight container


1.  Enlist little helpers to pick a big bowl full of dandelion flowers.  You don't need the stems or green parts, so just pick the flower.

2.  Remove the stems and green parts, leaving just the yellow petals (and maybe a bit of the green around them - just not too much or it can make the wine bitter.  However, some recipes do use the whole flower and just add more sugar).  Ours made about 6 1/2 cups of petals.  We saw recipes that called for anywhere from 4 cups to 4 quarts of petals, so we just decided to go with whatever we had.  Again, not experts or dandelion wine connoisseurs (you think there is such a thing?).

3.  Take the gallon of water and remove 1 pint (2 c.); bring to a boil.  Place petals in a large airtight container and pour boiling water over them.  Cover and allow to steep for 2 days, stirring once or twice daily.

Planning ahead:

Special equipment needed for step 2:
- large pot
- fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth-lined collander

Ingredients for step 2:
- 2 lbs. sugar
- 1 lemon (juice and peel)
- 2 oranges (juice and peel)
- 1 packet yeast (I decided on this Champagne yeast)
- 1 tsp. yeast nutrient

Special equipment needed for step 3:
- 1 gallon (or larger) carboy with lid or stopper
- twin airlock and carboy bung (Michael picked out this one.)

Ingredients for step 3:
- 1 lb. golden raisins
- reserved pint of water

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