Somewhere along the way the majority of us came to believe wine was simply ‘made from grapes’. Yet in bygones past, ‘wine-making’ encompassed a vast array of fruit, flowers and herbs.
Curiosity piqued, we proceeded to investigate the ancient art of dandelion wine making, resulting in a handy little instruction piece below on how to make one of the most popular flower wines in history, from one of the most common and accessible flowers available to us, the humble dandelion.
To many of us the dandelion is an annoying weed in the lawn, albeit a colourful one.
Yet in addition to dandelion wine (which also happens to be good for the digestion and liver), their leaves can be eaten in salads, and their petals make a lovely syrup to use instead of plain sugar in baked good or to pour over crepes. Apparently, dandelion syrup is known to have a unique ‘barley sugar’ flavour. (1)
Dandelion Wine: Key Tips to Getting Started
- Dandelions are most abundant during spring.
- Pick dandelions in full sun in the morning, after the dew has dried.
- Ensure the dandelions have not been sprayed with insecticides.
- Avoid roadside dandelions due to pollutants.
- Begin to make your wine as soon as you get the flowers home (their petals close once picked).
- Use just the petals (some wine makers use the whole flower for more ‘tang’).
- Allow six months to a year after bottling before drinking.
For a rich, strong, medium sweet wine flavour…
The petals from enough complete dandelion flowers to loosely fill a gallon/3.8 litre container * 4.5 litres of water * 1.5kg sugar * Zest and juice of 4 lemons * 500g raisins (chopped or squashed by putting in a carrier bag and pounding), or 200ml can of white grape juice concentrate * 1 sachet of white wine yeast * Yeast nutrient
Easily purchased online from Australian brew-making sites: A large enough container with lid to steep 3.8 litre container of petals with 4.5 litres of water (stainless steel, earthenware, glass or un-chipped enamel) * Large saucepan * Large spoon * Sterilised funnel & sieve * Two x ‘Demijohns’ * Campden tablet * Bubble track or airlock * Bottle for final brew.
Step One: Sterilise all equipment thoroughly.
Step Two: Hold each flower by the calyx (the green bit below the petals). Snip off the petals with scissors into a clean fermenting bucket.
Step Three: Boil the water and pour over the petals (make sure you use a large enough container to do so). Cover and leave 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
Step Four: Pour everything into a large saucepan and add the lemon zest, bring to the boil then stir in the sugar until dissolved. Continue to boil for five minutes. Take off the heat and add the lemon juice and the crushed raisins or grape juice concentrate.
Step Five: Clean the fermenting bucket thoroughly using a campden tablet, pour in the mix and cover until cool. Add the yeast and yeast nutrient and cover. Ferment for three or four days then transfer into a demijohn using a sterilised sieve and funnel. Fit a bubble trap and allow to ferment for a couple of months, rack-off into a fresh demijohn, leave until clear, then bottle. (1)
Now we cannot claim to have tried this recipe, and after researching the topic of dandelion wine making online, there appears to be a number of different methodologies. We’d love to hear from anyone who is inspired enough to give it a go!
Photo Credits: See http://www.pinterest.com/ffeaus/dandelion-wine/