Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Making Wine From a Bounty of Dandelions

I recently read an article posted on about making dandelion wine. While I thought that was an insane idea, I happened to casually glanced across the street into my neighbors "dandelion garden" and changed my mind.  Why not try this recipe? The ingredients are mostly free with the exception of wine stoppers and yeast...

So I set out to pluck a gallon of dandelion flowers with my daughter in tow.

The writer said it would take approximately 2 hours to collect enough dandelions. I think we got lucky though in getting all that we needed within 40 or so minutes!  I suppose my only complaint about the entire process is that I have to wait so syinkin' long before sampling my endeavors!

If you want to make your own batch of dandelion wine, following is your basic recipe:

Ingredients and materials
Just over one gallon of dandelion flowers.

Day 1: (two hours)
  • 1 gallon of dandelion flowers picked on a dry day. (It is wise to stay away from roadways or areas that could be sprays however.)
  • 1 gallon of boiling water.
  • A clean 2-gallon container that can hold the flowers and water.
  • A cloth to cover the container.
Day 4: (two hours)
  • A 2-gallon non-reactive soup pot - Possibly stainless steel.
  • 3 oranges.
  • 1 lemon.
  • 1 small ginger root.
  • ½ cake of yeast (or a half package of dry yeast).
  • A jelly cloth (Whenever I strain I use an old t-shirt).
  • A fermentation container.
  • A cloth to cover the container.
Day 10: (one hour)
  • Coffee filters (or clean, old dish towels).
  • Colander.
  • Funnel.
  • Bottles.
  • Cotton balls.
I have a neighbor who is into beer brewing and he's lending me much of the necessary equiptment for this part of the process...  Ask around, you never know what you can borrow!
Day 31: (5 minutes)
  • A trash can.

Euell Gibbons Dandelion Wine Recipe:

1. Gather 1 gallon of dandelion flowers on a dry day. Collect the flower heads only. The stems will add a bitter flavor to the brew.

2. Put these in a 2-gallon crock and pour 1 gallon of boiling water over them.

3. Cover the jar and allow the flowers to steep for 3 days. Don’t go more than a day or two after the 3-day period. The flowers will rot, and you’ll have to start over.

4. Strain through a jelly cloth so you can squeeze all the liquid from the flowers - As I mentioned I strain most of my homemades through an old t-shirt.  Works well enough... Whatever fabric you use, it will get permanently stained yellow.

5. Put the liquid in a kettle, add 1 small ginger root, the thinly pared peels and the juice of 3 oranges and 1 lemon.

6. Stir in 3 pounds of sugar and boil gently for 20 minutes.

7. Return the liquid to the crock and allow it to cool until barely lukewarm. It should take about an hour to cool. Don’t wait too long before moving onto the next step, so as to avoid bacterial growth.

8. Spread ½ cake of yeast on a piece of toasted rye bread and float it on top.

9. Cover the crock with a cloth and keep in a warm room for 6 days.

10. Then strain off the wine into a gallon jug, corking it loosely with a wad of cotton.

11. Keep in a dark place for 3 weeks, then carefully decant into a bottle and cap or cork tightly.

12. Don’t touch it until Christmas or later - Many of the websites I found said the wine is best after a full year!

13. Enjoy!!!

For more information on wild edibles, check the local library. I took out a few books including "Stalking the Wild Asparagus" and found them quite interesting...

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