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Dandelion Wines

"Have you got anything on dandelion wine? Thousands of them are in bloom here in
Ohio and we thought we would put them to use. We are looking for both a semi-sweet
recipe and a dry one for different occasions and moods." Lance, Ted, Alex, and Dave

Yes, indeed, I have several recipes for dandelion wine (one of my favorites!). I'm sending you two of them and hope I'm not too late!

Dandelion Wine (1)

Pick the flowers just before starting, so they're fresh. You do not need to pick the petals off the flower heads, but the heads should be trimmed of any stalk. Put the flowers in a large bowl. Set aside 1 pint of water and bring the remainder to a boil. Pour the boiling water over the dandelion flowers and cover tightly with cloth or plastic wrap. Leave for two days, stirring twice daily. Do not exceed this time. Pour flowers and water in large pot and bring to a low boil. Add the sugar and the peels (peel thinly and avoid any of the white pith) of the lemons and orange. Boil for one hour, then pour into a crock or plastic pail. Add the juice and pulp of the lemons and orange. Allow to stand until cool (70-75 degrees F.). Add yeast and yeast nutrient, cover, and put in a warm place for three days. Strain and pour into a secondary fermentation vessel (bottle or jug). Add the raisins and fit a fermentation trap to the vessel. Leave until fermentation ceases completely, then rack and top up with reserved pint of water and any additional required to reduce all but 1 inch of airspace. Set adide until wine clears, rack and bottle. This wine must age six months in the bottle before tasting, but will improve remarkably if allowed a year.

Dandelion Wine (2)

This is the traditional "Midday Dandelion Wine" of old, named because the flowers must be picked at midday when they are fully open. Pick the flowers and bring into the kitchen. Set one gallon of water to boil. While it heats up to a boil, remove as much of the green material from the flower heads as possible (the original recipe calls for two quarts of petals only, but this will work as long as you end up with two quarts of prepared flowers). Pour the boiling water over the flowers, cover with cloth, and leave to seep for two days. Do not exceed two days. Pour the mixture back into a pot and bring to a boil. Add the peelings from the four oranges (again, no white pith) and boil for ten minutes. Strain through a muslin cloth or bag onto acrock or plastic pail containing the sugar, stirring to dissolve. When cool, add the juice of the oranges, the yeast and yeast nutrient. Pour into secondary fermentation vessel, fit fermentation trap, and allow to ferment completely. Rack and bottle when wine clears. Again, allow it to age six months in the bottle before tasting, but a year will improve it vastly. This wine has less body than the first recipe produces, but every bit as much flavor (some say more!).

COMMENTS: Dandelion wine is typically a light wine lacking body. One of the recipes above used raisins as a body-builder, but you could use dates or figs or rhubarb instead. Whatever you use will affect the color, so golden raisins or golden figs are usually used with dandelions (both are usually available in bulk at Sun Harvest, Giant Foods, or many other stores).

Both recipes call for 2 lbs granulated sugar per gallon of wine. Whether this produces a dry, sweet or semi-sweet wine will depend on the yeast you use, as those which convert additional sugar into higher alcohol percentages will result in drier wine unless additional sugar is added (no more that 1/4 lb per gallon). I tell people to make what they like. If you like dry wine, use slightly less sugar or champagne yeast. If you like sweet wine, add a little more just before bottling (along with wine stabilizer to stop all fermentation). Personally, I always push the yeast into the most fermentation it will give by adding sugar after racking and giving it another month to raise the alcohol level. This requires an additional racking before bottling. Also, the yeast usually doesn't use up all the additional sugar so my wines are usually a little on the off-dry side (which I prefer).

If you omit the body-building ingredient, dandelion wine is light and invigorating and suited perfectly for tossed salad and baked fish (especially trout). If you ferment with a body-enhancer but shave the sugar, the wine will serve well with pastas, heavier salads, fish, or fowl. Sweetened, it goes well before or after dinner.

Finally, dandelion wine is well-suited to make into a sparkling wine and may even do splendid if kept semi-dry to semi-sweet. In that case I'd use no more than 3/4 lb of raisins per gallon if you use that recipe -- you don't want too much body weighing it down. Good luck, and may your yeast always give you an extra day's work!.

My thanks to Lance, Ted, Alex, and Dave at L & R Sturgill for the request. I hope you had good luck with one of these recipes.

This page was created on May 19th, 1998.

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