The Dandelion is an amazingly useful plant. Young leaves can be picked for the salad. Older ones can be stewed. The roots can be baked and ground into a coffee substitute. And the flowers can be fermented to produce a light refreshing summer wine sometimes described as “sunshine in a glass”.
Looking at all the dandelions blooming around our house, it was this last usage that has piqued my interest of late. I’ve never tested it, but why not? A little weeding, a little drinking–better than spraying poisons everywhere in a misguided quest for uniformity.
I decided to follow the second recipe on this page. I really wanted to following the instructions I once read in an issue of Back Home magazine, but my copy is in storage. If someone has the recipe, please post it to the comments! Anyway, what follows over the next few posts are photo-narrated instructions for making your own dandelion wine.
Step 1: Pick a bag full of dandelion blossoms (at midday if possible). Select larger ones, as the smaller ones take longer to clean. I picked all that were available on our property (there’d be more if we were more diligent about mowing) and then I picked a bunch on my neighbor’s property too. (Thanks for not using lawn chemicals Drew — if it turns out decent I’ll bring you a bottle.)
Step 2: Separate the petals of each flower from the green parts. Do this without staining your hands. Just kidding! The stems and green parts of the flower add a bitter resinous off-flavor to the wine. Or … so I read. The fastest way to separate each flower is to squeeze the back of the flower tightly, and then pinch into the face of the flower. The petals should mostly separate like pulling the choke out of an artichoke. You need at least 2 quarts of flower petals.
Step 3: Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil and mix with the flower petals (the “must”–material to be fermented). Remove from heat. The intent is to create a sort of dandelion tea, and the initially heat helps accelerate that process. Cover and allow to stand for 48 hours, stirring occasionally.
Well, that’s it for now. I’ll post an update in two days with the next few steps.