Dandelion Wine

This post is a long time in the coming - I picked these dandelions quite a while ago, three weeks to be exact. The wine making process takes that long, and now it has to age till Christmas before we can drink it! Patience seems to be key with dandelion wine, and I'm really hopeful that it'll be worth the wait!

It took me almost three hours to pick all these dandelions - very enjoyable work, but tiring none the less. I got them from a park by my house - hopefully not sprayed with chemicals, but I have to admit, I was a little worried about dog pee....(maybe I shouldn't admit that here!)

This is my hand when I was done picking.

According to multiple sources, the "best" dandelion wine is made with the petals only, none of the green calyx. I started to take the petals off, but found it to be an almost impossible task for one person to accomplish in less than 12 hours. There's just no fast way to get the petals off a dandelion. It didn't help that when evening fell the flowers started to close up! I ended up picking the petals off only about a third of the flowers I'm harvested.

By about 8pm, they were pretty well closed up and really hard to deal with. I decided to try an experiment - I'd make one batch with the "pure" petals, and another with the calyx (green part) on. It would be an experiment in the difference that that little bit of green makes.....plus I was just about out of energy and motivation to pull any more petals off.....

The next step was to "brew" the flowers in water. This is the petals only (I'll call it Grade A)....

And this steamy shot is of the flowers with calyx (Grade B). I brought each to a boil for a few minutes and then let them steep, covered, overnight.

The next evening, I added some citrus peel and heated them again to boiling. I probably should have added the peels the night before, but I forgot, and I figured it might still get some flavor from them.

I boiled it for a while longer, and then strained it. I didn't have any cheese-cloth in the house, so I used an old flour sack towel and a colander. It was steamy, but worked well.

I wrung out the towel to get the last of the juices out....

Next, I added a whole bunch of white sugar (this is what ferments into alcohol.) and let it cool so I could add the yeast. I used champagne yeast from the brew shop on Monroe street.

Sliced up some lemon and lime.....

....and bottled it into three half gallon jugs with the citrus floating on top. It aged like this for 6 days in a cool dark cupboard.

Here it is after the initial fermentation. The one on the left is "Grade A," and the two on the right are "Grade B." The color difference was striking.

Here's a really bad closeup of Grade A. It was teaming with nice fizzy bubbles - a surefire indication of fermentation.

You can see the bubbles better in this shot from the top.

Grade B didn't look fizzy at all, although when I tasted it, it seemed quite alcoholic. I think perhaps the fermentation went a lot faster in this one and was pretty much over.

Grade B top view.

I strained them again (exactly how I did the first ones, but no heating this time,) and let them age another 2 weeks. The color difference wasn't nearly as striking after they got strained.

Finally, this weekend we bottled! I chose these small 350 ml bottles - they're pretty, and I had almost exactly enough wine to use up a case of 12 of them. Dave and I siphoned the wined into the bottles, and corked them with hand corker I rented from the brew shop. The siphoning process was neat, but we were too occupied to take pictures so I'll have to leave it for another post.

It was hard to get a good picture of the finished product - I finally turned it on it's side and got a decent one. It cleared up significantly over the past two weeks, and is now a nice clear honey color. We tasted a tiny bit and it seemed quite alcoholic and harsh, but intriguing none the less. I think age will do it good, but I guess we'll just have to wait till Christmas to find out!

This picture doesn't do the color any justice, but you can see all 12 bottles. There are four "Grade A" and eight "Grade B." I'm working on labels for them, but for now I put tiny dots with on the Grade A bottles. I put them back in the case the bottles came in and in the basement....it's a little frustrating to have to wait so long to taste something I've invested so much time in, but it'll be so fun to open them up sometime over the holidays and taste the results! It'll be like a little bit of spring during the darkest time of the year.

I would include a recipe here, but I didn't do a very good job of following one or recording how much of everything I used. I know I used pretty much equal parts water and dandelion, a lot of sugar, some lemon, lime, and a packet of champagne yeast. It you do a google search, you'll find a lot of recipes.....
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  1. i just transferred my dande wine into a 5 gal glass carboy this afternoon. I am def a bit tipsy after just a glass or two, or three. I like your website and pics. And your definition. keep on being awesome!

  2. Thanks! Let me know how it turns out! - Megan


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