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Dandelions in the yard (ok, not for another couple of weeks...) : Homemade Dandelion Wine In My Glass!

10:46 AM

I love Spring. The green grass, the birds singing, and leaves on the trees and the WEEDS in my lawn!   Especially Dandelion.  I love Dandelion.  Early on in the season (probably next week or so for me), Dandelion greens are ready for picking and eating.  Over the winter, their bitter sap goes down into their roots as the green tops go dormant.  No sap = Sweet(er) leaves.  This is the perfect time to pick if you want some fresh leafy greens from the yard (no spray, please).

A few weeks later, the tops of the Dandelion turn bitter with the return of the "sap" and they begin to send up a plethora of flowering shoots.  At this point, you can either a) dig up the plant b) get mad and spray your yard so the "weeds" don't spread c) give up your grass for lost and let the flowers go to seed and spread everywhere (the neighbors LOVE this) or, my favorite d)  Pick the flowers, and make WINE!

My husband and I started brewing our own beer and making our own wine and hard cider back in our 20s for two key reasons 1) it's fun and we love creating our own adult beverages and 2) I became sensitive to corn and here in the U.S. corn sugar is used in EVERYTHING... even beer and wine.  I like my drinks to make me feel happy and relaxed, NOT sick!

Last Spring was actually the first time I tried making Dandelion Wine, and it was SO worth it when we finally opened up a bottle at the beginning of this month!
You need a few supplies, a lot of blossoms, and the ability to wait about a year if you want to make wine.

Traditionally, Dandelion Wine was made first thing in the season (umm, probably somewhere other than Upstate New York) so the blossoms were gathered in Early March.  The wine was ready to drink around the Winter Solstice to remind us of Spring sunshine during the darkest time of the year.

This year, I was glad to drink my sunny wine during our March blizzard(s), eventhough we are now experiencing quite a few more daylight hours than we were just a couple months ago.

Sunny Dandelion Wine
Yields 1 Gallon (3.8L)
6 cups (1.5) Dandelion Petals (NO GREEN at all)
2 lbs (900 grams) granulated white sugar
1 lb (450g) Yellow Raisins
1tbsp (15g) Acid blend*
1 Package (5-7g) wine yeast*
1 Campden Tablet (optional, if cloudy wine bothers you)*
1 tsp (5g) yeast nutrient*
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) orange juice (room temperature)
1 tsp (5g) pectic enzyme*
*these are specialty items.  We are lucky to have a store in our town that specializes in wine-making, but these are readily available online too at any beer-making supply store*

other items you'll need:
2 (7.6L) gallon food grade plastic bucket
2 (7.6L) gallon airlocked fermentation vessel
wine bottles

 Fermentation vessel with airlock
Corks and "Corker".
Food Grade Plastic Bucket (this one is 5 gallons, we use it for Brewing beer too).

1) Prepare dandelion petals (remove them from the stem and the bitter green base).  Place petals, sugar, raisins, and acid blend into a food grade plastic bucket.  Bring 1 gallon (3.8L) of water to a boil and pour it into the mixture.  Add Campden tablet, if desired, and let mixture sit for 24 hours.  If you ARE NOT using a Campden tablet, cool the mixture to lukewarm. 

2) in a jar, make a yeast starter culture by combining the wine yeast, yeast nutrient, and orange juice.  Cover, shake vigorously, and let stand 1-3 hours, until bubbly.  Then add to the must (must= the mixture in your bucket)

3) Add the pectic enzyme, loosely cover with plastic wrap or foil, and ferment for three days in the bucket.  Then rack the liquid into a 2-gallon (7.6 L)  airlocked fermentation vessel and allow it to ferment to completion.  About 3 months!

Transfer the wine into bottles, cork them, and put them in a cool, dry, place... out of the sun.

4) Wait at least another 6 months before sampling.

Just in time for the Big Snowstorm!

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