Ah, finally time to blog about dandelion wine! I’d like to categorize this under “Gourmet Weed Eating.” This was only our second time making wine, and the first time making dandelion wine. My husband sampled some dandelion wine from a coworker many years ago, and he liked it, so I thought this would be a fun one to try.
The recipe I used is from the book The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan. It’s an excellent book and has a lot of useful information about building your homestead in limited space. She covers a range of topics from gardening, to keeping animals, to cheese and wine making. Great stuff! I purchased this book from Tractor Supply Co., but you could probably also find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or even your local public library.
I would love to print the complete recipe here, but I am waiting to see if I can legally do that. I will, however, explain the basic process so you have a good idea how we did it. You can also watch the video if you’re more of a visual learner.
1. You’ll want to start this process in the spring when dandelions are in full bloom. I went to the large field behind our church to pick blossoms. You’re going to need A LOT of blossoms, so pick an area that is pretty well loaded with them. Also, pick an area that is NOT treated with pesticides, weed killers, or other chemicals. If you would like to pick from someone’s yard, get permission first. Although, I wonder if anyone in their right mind would be bothered by you taking dandelions from their lawn. Anyway, pick a huge bowlful.
2. Next, the green part of the blossom needs to be trimmed off. Green parts will inhibit the fermentation process, so just take a pair of scissors and snip off the backs of the blossoms. Then measure 3 quarts of blossom pieces to be used in the next step.
3. Bring a gallon of water to a boil, remove from heat, and combine it with the blossom pieces. I did this in a large 2-gallon glass jug. Let this steep, like a giant mug of tea, for a couple days. Bring it back to a boil in a large pot with the zest of two oranges and one lemon, then strain it, combining the liquid with about 3 pounds of sugar. Let that cool (this could take a while because it’s a GIANT mug of tea!).
4. When the “tea” is cool, add yeast, the juice of your two oranges and one lemon, and raisins (I will add exact amounts as soon as I get permission from the book publisher). Give it a stir and cover with a loose lid for the fermentation stage. The mixture will begin to bubble and foam, and will continue for a few days to a couple of weeks. Keep an eye on it so you know when the bubbling stops. Once the fermentation is complete, strain the solids out with cheesecloth and pour the liquid into clean jars. I used mason jars with loose lids for this (just in case it decided to bubble while I wasn’t looking). I can’t remember how long I let the wine sit in the jars before I put it into pretty bottles, but you’ll want to wait for any sediment to settle to the bottom first (a couple weeks?). Then CAREFULLY transfer the clear wine into your pretty bottles and let it sit in a cool, dark place to mellow out for 6 months.
It’s a long six months….
We happened to time it just right so we could sample our dandelion wine on Thanksgiving Day. My mom got out some pretty little sherry glasses (crystal, of course!), and the adults all got a sample (me, my husband, my parents, and my grandparents). I was very pleasantly surprised at how well this wine turned out! I think everyone liked it. I mean, my grandpa gave a funny look, but I’ll assume that’s only because it’s been a while since he’s had anything spiked. I don’t know the ‘professional’ descriptive words for wine, but I would call this a dessert wine. It is nice and sweet, and it has a slight fruity flavor to it. I much prefer sweet, fruity wines over dry or red wines, so this dandelion wine is just right for me.
If you are looking for an easy wine recipe that does not require any expensive equipment or ingredients, try this one out. You’ll need to plan ahead a little so you can get the blossoms in the spring, and like I mentioned earlier, the recipe is in the book (I will post the complete recipe here if/when I obtain permission from the publisher). If you try this recipe, let me know how yours turns out. If you have a different wine recipe that you call your favorite, I’d love to hear about it. Leave me a comment below!