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.
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.
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.
The cork gets inserted into the opening of one red part.
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.
Aren’t you dying with anticipation?!?
The good news is that the results are in after 6 months. See how it turned out HERE.
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