Saturday, May 14, 2011

“Dandelion Wine”

Pick dandelions from an open field or yard far from any insecticide spraying, and if you can, pick early in the season when the leaves of the plant are still tender. Newly opened flowers are also ideal. You should have a large soup pot with a lid and 2 clean gallon glass jugs, a wire mesh strainer and 2 fermentation locks. 12 clean wine bottles with stoppers - corks, o-ring glass or screw tops.
8 cups whole dandelion blossoms, stems removed
16 cups water
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lemon
Peel of 1 large orange coarsely chopped
Peel of 1 lemon coarsely chopped
2 ¼ teaspoons brewers or Champagne yeast
¼ cup warm water
6 cups sugar
8 whole cloves
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and diced
1. Wash the dandelion blossoms well in a colander. Put them in a pot with the water, orange and lemon juice, and the orange and lemon peels. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for 2-3 minutes.Turn off the heat and add the whole cloves and ginger. 
Let cool and sit, covered for 24-48 hours.
2. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let sit for 10 minutes.
3. Add the sugar to the dandelion liquid and stir. Add the yeast mixture as well and stir.
4. Fit a large gallon jug with a funnel and fit the funnel with a mesh strainer. Ladle in the liquid one spoonful at a time, pressing down onto the dandelions as they go into the mesh strainer to ensure all of the liquid is extracted. Dump the dandelion and peels into an empty bowl to allow each new batch of liquid to go through easily.
5.  Fit the jugs with the fermentation locks. Let rest for one week in a cool dark place as the fermentation begins.. 
6. Strain the liquid again into bottles using the funnel.  Then cork the bottles, or use bottles with screw on tops, and store them in a dark cool place for 3 to 8 weeks and up to a year. This kind of wine is best consumed while it is young.
Some recipes call for just petals not whole buds. Fermentation can sometimes stop before it is complete, meaning it’s “stuck.” This can happen when there aren’t enough micronutrients for the yeast. You increase the chance of success by using whole buds because it adds more micronutrients, but you will have a slightly more bitter wine. I’m okay with that, I like a little bitter. But if you’re not, try the petals only. This will require more picking and separating.

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