I could show you this fully finished step-by-step recipe a few months from now, [scroll down, I've added the finished steps!] but what good would that be if you had to wait many months for dandelions to come back around? So instead, I’m going to give you the recipe and show you the step-by-step up to where I have it, so you can get picking in the fields and follow along with me. Then we can do a taste test together in a few months when it’s ready and compare our dandelion wines.

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably saw a little back and forth about a book called “Dandelion Wine.” It’s apparently very good so now I have visions of myself sipping dandelion wine in a small crystal glass the size of a thimble (since that’s how I’m told it is to be consumed) while reading “Dandelion Wine.”

I got inspired to make this last summer, after Grandma P. had her fall and we had to sort through some things and get life in order. I found this book, among many. I think it may have even been from her mother’s days. The cover seems to be falling to pieces. But I love it.

I loved it for many reasons. Mostly its old fashioned illustrations and very casual approach to the whole thing. It didn’t seem intimidating. It seemed inviting.

There were these guys, for example. How could they not be inviting? I feel like I’m just hanging with them in the parking lot of the vineyard, picking through the grapes, talking in big hand gestures, probably with an Italian accent.

And then there was this. Flower wines. How delightful and non-overwhelming I thought. I have rose petals, I have dandelion petals… wine grapes are another matter. Plus I’ve tasted grape wine… but flower wine?

I want a sip.

I also looked at this book for inspiration. My friend got it for me for my birthday from this wonderful shop in San Francisco that sells vintage cook books. It’s called Omnivore Books and is where I had my book signing last fall, you may remember…me, Greta Garbo, and bottle of whiskey…

I love old books. They inspire me.

You start with 8 cups of dandelion buds. Some people use just the petals… but as you’ll see in the note below, using whole buds introduces more micronutrients for the yeast to feast on. It also requires less picking and adds a bit more bitterness. I don’t mind bitterness… I kinda like it. But if you don’t like it then pick those petals off the buds.

You’ll wash the buds very well. This will take off any debris from the fields… it is best to pick away from roads and places where there have been pesticides sprayed.

Then once washed, drop them all in a pot.

Next peel a large orange and a lemon.

Coarsely chop the peel.

Squeeze the juice of the orange.

Then squeeze the juice of the lemon.

Pour the juices into the pot.

Then add the water…

Then bring the whole affair to a boil for a few minutes. Then let it sit for 24-48 hours.

Watch the lonely wild turkey outside looking for a woman turkey in his life. It’s mating season right now and the guy is lonely.

Nice neck skin, eh?

The guinea hens came over to keep him company but he didn’t really care.

Once your dandelions have been brewing for a day or two, add some brewers yeast to some warm water to activate it. You could also use wine or champagne yeast. I got this brewers yeast from the health food store… you could probably also find it online.

Next comes the sugar. A lot of it… the yeast will eat up the sugar and turn it into alcohol.

Add the sugar to the pot.

Add the yeast to the pot.

Give it all a stir.

Watch Willie the cat dash after Blackie the cat, who lives under the garage. Willie gets very territorial and they talk to each other in their cat chants.

Next get a gallon jug. I borrowed this one from my dad who buys them for his dark room solutions. He’s a photographer. You can order them here if you like these ones. OR, you can buy a gallon of apple juice at the store, I’ve seen them in these types of containers. Then you can drink it and use the empty glass jug. There are so many possibilities.

You’ll want to fit this with a funnel and then you’ll fit a small mesh strainer into the funnel.

Ladle the liquid into the strainer, scoop by scoop…

Press the dandelions with the back of the ladle to extract all of the liquid… keep going until all of the solution is in the jug. Be sure to mix the solution as you ladle to get the sugar and yeast that fall to the bottom of the pot.

Next add the cloves.

And there you have it! You’ll want to put a kind of air lock over the jug so that the CO2 can leave the jug but bad yeast doesn’t enter. If you screw the lid on tightly, you run the risk of having the bottle explode. You can do this with a balloon for example and poke some holes in it before securing it around the neck of the jug. Then let this jug sit in a cool dark place for a week… then it goes into wine bottles, uncorked for several more weeks (you’ll use the funnel again)… then it gets corked (you’ll need a corker) or you can buy the bottles with screw on caps. Then it is stored for several more months until it is ready to drink, in a small crystal glass the size of a thimble.

While you wait, with me and the guinea hens, you can watch a turkey fight … it’s the season when they show off for each other to see who’s boss.

And see who’s… tail… is bigger.

Then they sniff each other out…

And then sort of wander around again and look for their life’s purpose.

And the girls… the girls are their life’s purpose.

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Update:

It was time to bottle so I thought I’d show you how it all went down.

I bought this red contraption from the interwebs for a few dollars. It’s called a wine corker… or something technical like that.

It is basically twp plastic parts, one that is slightly larger than the other. They have more expensive ones but I decided to go the cheepo route my first time around. Once I open my wildly successful dandelion wine business I’ll upgrade.

I also bought a bag of wine corks for a few dollars.

As for a wine bottle, I used some empty ones from wine bottles I’d already saved. I washed them in the dishwasher to they were sterilized and this helped the label come off.

These are my highly technical directions, but if you purchase this contraption it will be very obvious how it works:

The cork gets inserted into the opening of one red part.

The other red part gets placed on top of the cork.

The whole thing is set over the opening of the wine bottle.

And gently, verrrry gently, you will tap the cork into the opening.

I made the mistake of tapping a little too hard and a bottle of wine exploded all over the room and covered a big stack of my cookbooks. Now some of the pages stick together. But I didn’t need those recipes anyway.

Once it is sealed, you can store these in a cool dry place and wait 6 months for the big taste test. The nice thing is that it will be ready right around the holidays and make a perfect gift.

Aren’t you dying with anticipation?!?

Another Update:

The good news is that the results are in after 6 months. See how it turned out HERE.

If you liked this post, you might also like:

“Dandelion Wine”

Cook Time: 24 hours

Total Time: 24 hours

“Dandelion Wine”

Ingredients

  • 8 cups whole dandelion blossoms, stems removed
  • 16 cups water
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Peel of 1 large orange coarsely chopped
  • Peel of 1 lemon coarsely chopped
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons brewer's yeast
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and diced

Instructions

  1. Wash the dandelion blossoms well in a colander. Place in a large pot with the orange and lemon juice and peels. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool and sit for 24-48 hours.
  2. Once ready to continue, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the sugar to the dandelion liquid and stir. Next, add the yeast mixture and stir to combine.
  4. Fit a large jug with a funnel and place a small fine mesh strainer in the funnel. Ladle in the liquid one spoonful at a time, pressing down onto the dandelions to ensure all of the liquid is extracted. Dump the dandelions and peels into an empty bowl to allow each new batch of liquid to strain easily.
  5. Add the cloves and ginger to the jug.
  6. Place an airlock on the jug. This can be done with a deflated balloon - poke holes into the latex, then fasten the balloon around the neck of the jug. Alternatively, you could use plastic. Shake well and let it rest for one week in a cool dark place as the fermentation begins.
  7. Once rested for a week, using a funnel strain the liquid into bottles. Allow the uncorked bottles to sit in a dark cool place for 3 to 6 weeks. Then cork the bottles, or use bottles with screw on tops, and store them in a cool place for at least 2 months and up to a year. This kind of wine is best consumed while it is young.
  8. Note #1: Some recipes call for just petals not whole buds. My friend Ron, the mastermind behind Herb Farm informed me that fermentation can sometimes stop before it is complete, meaning it's "stuck." This can happen when there aren't enough micronutrients for the yeast. You increase the chance of success by using whole buds because it adds more micronutrients, but you will have a slightly more bitter wine. I'm okay with that, I like a little bitter. But if you're not, try the petals only. This will require more picking and separating.
  9. Note #2: Pick dandelions from an open field far from any insecticide spraying, and if you can, pick early in the season when the leaves of the plant are still tender. Newly opened flowers are also ideal.
http://georgiapellegrini.com/2011/05/10/recipes/dandelion-wine/