April 3, 2012

Dandelion Wine

   It's always kind of funny how you definitely know that spring is here when all the weeds around your yard and garden start popping up. Each year thousands of dollars are spent to get rid of them. Whether you hire someone to come out and treat your lawn or you simply spray them with vinegar, most people will agree that weeds are a nuisance.

   Unfortunately, many people view dandelions as just another weed to get rid of. Yes they will sporadically pop up where you wish they wouldn't and are hard to pull out of the ground when trying to clear them out, but they are a very useful plant. The whole plant is edible, and when picked the white goo that gets all over your hands can be used as an adhesive such as glue.

   This post will show you how I have taken this WEED and created a hopefully delicious wine.

   To begin my daughter and I headed out to our backyard. It's only the beginning of April and dandelions have popped up everywhere. With a basket hanging from my arm, I have found that the easiest dandelions to pick were located around the bases of our trees. The best time to pick them is around mid morning when the blossoms are fully opened. This is the fun part. Weather you have boys or girls most children love picking flowers. Even though they aren't going to be able to enjoy the finished product, children love helping and this part is a wonderful way to be able to include them. Today we are picking around 4 quarts of dandelion blossoms. With dandelion wine you do not need the stems or the leaves. Just the blossoms. When you go to make your wine you can either use the whole blossoms, greens and all, or you can use just the pedals. The difference between the whole blossom and just pedals in the finished product is the bitterness. When you leave the greens on the blossom the wine will maintain a slight bitterness.

   Next we took the blossoms and measured them out. Because we were just using a basket, we had a rough idea of how many we had picked. So to be more exact we took out a quart sized mason jar and began filling it. Our first time around we were pretty close we ended up with three quarts of blossoms! Because we needed one more quart we went ahead and just took the mason jar out for a quick round of flower picking to fill it up. We packed the jar until it was slightly firm but not super firm.

   Once we had the four quarts of blossoms we dumped them all into a big bucket and rinsed them off thoroughly.

   Then we took a large pot and brought four quarts of water to a boil. With the water at a boil, we turned the oven off and added our blossoms to the water. This mixture of water and blossoms will then sit for 2 days. What an amazing smell. Definitely already has a malt smell. I love it.

   So just a review of what ingredients I am working with:
  1. 4 quarts of dandelion blossoms or just pedals
  2. 5 quarts of water
  3. 2 lemons
  4. 2 oranges
  5. 7 cups of sugar
  6. 8 whole cloves
  7. 1/2 tsp ginger
  8. a packet of yeast
   To begin preparing for the next couple steps I went ahead and took the lemons and oranges to the grater creating lemon and orange zest out of the peels. Once the outer peels were almost diminished I finished removing any excess skin. Then I tossed the oranges and the lemons into a juicer to have fresh lemon and orange juice. Make sure you do not add any of the pith (white stuff around the oranges and lemons).

   Time sure does fly by. It has now been 2 days since we picked our dandelion blossoms and boiled them. I went ahead and put the pot the blossoms had been sitting in back on the stove and brought it to a boil once again. I then added the orange and lemon zest, orange and lemon juice, sugar, cloves, ginger, and an extra quart of water. This mixture will stay at a boil for around an hour. When boiling for an hour a raging boil is not necessary, just a low grade boil will do. 

   When done boiling you will then strain the mixture. I do not recommend using coffee filters as I have seen on other sites. It takes way too long and most of the finer sediment will settle later in the process. Instead you can use cheese cloth. I went ahead and strained the mixture right into the bucket I will be allowing it to ferment in. If you do not have a fermenting bucket you can  strain into an empty pot for the time being. After you have strained the mixture to remove the dandelion debris from the liquid you will allow it to cool down until it is luke warm. At that time you will add the yeast. The liquid needs to be warm but not hot in order to allow the yeast to dissolve.

Here is a picture of our fermenting bucket

   If you do not have a fermenting bucket at this time you will transfer your liquid into bottles. Then you can place a balloon with a couple small holes over the bottle in order to make it air tight.

    Now comes the tough part. Waiting. The wine will then need to be stored in a dark area for 2 months. Initially thinking I may store it in our basement, brew master Lenny suggested I keep it in a warmer but dark location such as the top of our steps going down to our basement. Lenny had advised that temperature can affect the taste just like it does in beer. When fermenting in a cooler location you end up with more of a lager. Because dandelion wine is supposed to be a light wine warmer temperatures would be better.

   Because we have some time to spare until the finished product feel free to check out the rest of our blog. There will be more to come in regards to this project such as when we go to rack our wine, so make sure to keep up with us so we can keep you up to date.

If you have any questions or suggestions feel free to leave a comment or e-mail us at thehomesteadjones@yahoo.com. Till next time, see you on the flip flop.

No comments:

Post a Comment