For a few years now I’ve been saying “When the dandelions come out I’m making dandelion wine!” As an avid maker the ability to make my own alcohol is both novel and practical, so on the way home from a lovely long weekend at Harrison Hot Springs I could barely be kept in the car as we passed field after field of blossoming dandelions. Finally, I could take it no longer and I launched out of the car on the side of the road into a sea of golden blossoms. Quickly filling up a Wholefoods paper bag, I looked around and I had hardly made a dent in the mustard tide. We piled back in the car and made it to Mission before I was saying “I think we need to grab more.” Dandelions are not only a fantastic flower for pollinators to feed on in early spring, but they clean up imbalances in your soil and therefore are often found in high concentration around human activity. As we passed by block after block of fist sized blooms I couldn’t take it any longer, we pulled over on a quiet block and picked another grocery bag full.
Once we got home it was time to start cleaning and sorting in to piles of roots, petals, and leaves; filtering out the not so pretty pieces for the house rabbits to snack on. It became immediately obvious I had really gotten out of hand and over picked my needs by about 5 or 6 times, but that’s no problem for a maker with hippy neighbours.
While brewing the wine we laid leaves out to dry for tea, filled up plastic bags of leaves for juicing, and piled the rest that I just couldn’t handle into large pots of soup stock to freeze.
Although the wine won’t be ready for another few weeks and I still don’t know what it’s going to taste like, I get the impression from the recipe it’s going to be one strong brew. If you’d like to give it a try grab a bag of flowers and get started before prime dandelion season passes us by!
1 Litre of dandelion flowers only (no stalks or leaves)
1 Gallon of boiling water
6 cups of white sugar (though I would love to try honey instead next time)
Active dry yeast. I used a quarter pack of Champagne yeast per gallon which I recommend, though if you fancy yourself a yeast expert you may have a better idea.
Bring the water to a boil, add the dandelion flowers. Simmer for 5 minutes and remove from heat. Strain to remove the flowers, add the sugar to the liquid, and stir well until dissolved. Let sit until it’s lukewarm.
Pour the mixture into sterilized gallon jug, add the yeast, and pop an air lock on top. (If you don’t know about air locks the best thing to do is take a visit to your local U-brew and pick one up)
Let it sit on your counter as the air lock pops away until it slows down to barely popping any more, about a month.
Now here’s the part I haven’t done yet, but I would recommend pouring into sterilized wine bottles and corking. If you use bottles with a punt, (the concave dimple in the bottom), and add a tiny bit of sugar at this point the yeast will activate again and carbonate the beverage like Champagne, but I would recommend putting your mix in the fridge about a week after it’s been bottled if you do this to slow down the yeast so it’s less likely to explode.
I’ll keep you posted on my project, and if you try making your own let us know how it goes!