Happy Beltane, Mayday or whatever this part of the planetary and seasonal cycle represents to you. Spring really has sprung here in Southern Ontario!! The birds and the bees, the flowers and the trees, all agree. New beginnings, inspirations, insights, seeds, hopefulness and anticipation are in the air. Ahhh what a gift! Winter is finally really over!! This is the day, more often than not, I will visit forest and field to find Natures cornucopia spilling it’s first gifts, scattering them across the ground for the taking. Fiddle heads, Wild Ginger unfurling, Blood root flowers announcing Springs true arrival and the beginning of foraging season. Morels and chanterelles coyly hiding and teasing from under hedges and fallen forest leaves. I am yours if you can catch me. I know they are there, they know I know, and so our yearly courtship begins.
Ok... So why have I named this post ” My Best Dandelion Wine Recipe”? I have a confession. I changed the recipe I posted with “9 Tips- for making a Kick Ass Wildflower Wine”. I did!. It is done.. Ever since I posted my recipe for Dandelion Wine, I have had a nagging vague feeling that just wouldn’t go away. Yesterday I saw the seasons first bright YELLOW flush of Dandelions peppering green fields, and I knew I had to change some details in the recipe for my own peace of mind. There is an art to sharing recipes publicly and I am discovering, simpler is better.
Most of the old fashioned wild wine recipes are for a simple, single fermentation wine. You leave the must in the bottle and cork it after it has fermented in the bottle. You could say it gives you a “Rustic” style wine. Which is fine. It is a simple process and people have been making it and very happily drinking it that way for centuries.
However,, Now days the art of home wine making, is very popular and offers much more sophisticated recipes, equipment and processes. I was trying to do both in that recipe, to bring together the traditional rustic, single fermentation approach with a secondary fermentation twist. It is do able, but challenging to do it in a simple straightforward way. And I feel simplicity is important here. I want to make it as easy as possible for anyone to enjoy making, drinking and sharing this classic wild wine.
So, please find below, “My Best Dandelion Recipe” .It will have a higher alcohol content than the rustic type, and my earlier recipe. It will have a smoother and more refined flavour, and I hope you will find, like I have, that it really is a kick ass wild wine recipe. Thanks to all for bearing with me. I hope you will find it worthwhile.
MY BEST DANDELION WINE RECIPE
(Makes about 12 liters of Dandelion Wine)
- 3 Kilograms of cleaned Dandelion flowers.
- 12 Liters, (quarts) of water.
- 4 Kilograms sugar, brown or white.
- 2 cups white seedless Raisins chopped fine, (or an extra cup of sugar).
- 2 whole large washed Oranges, seeded and either put through the blender or chopped fine.
- 1 whole, washed Lemon,same as above.
- 6 whole clove pieces
- 2-1/2 teaspoons dried and powdered Wild Ginger or 60 grams,(2 oz.) fresh & chopped.
- 1 packet wine making yeast, or 1 tablespoon regular bread making yeast.
- 1 cup lukewarm water.
- 1 food grade white plastic bucket 15 liters capacity,(standard restaurant size used for liquids and muffin mixes, grape juice for wine etc.
- Large pot that will boil 15 liters.
- Old and clean Pillowcase.
- Clear plastic hose for “racking”,(transferring the wine out of containers without the must).
- Large funnel, and or colander that will sit firmly on top of your bucket.
- one medium wine making carboy 12-15 liters.
- or -3 to 4-1 gallon narrow mouthed glass jugs. The kind hot sauce and vinegar come to restaurants. Easy to find on recycling day.
- Beer or wine bottles with corks or caps.
- Sodium Metabisulfite for sterilizing. Available at most brew your own shops and anywhere that wine making supplies are sold. Follow directions!
- All vessels and tools must be sterile.
- Collect and prepare your Dandelion flowers as directed in my post” 9 tips for making a kick ass wildflower wine”.
- Bring water to a boil,
- Add flowers, water, sugar, oranges, lemon, cloves, wild ginger, raisins
- Bring back to a boil for 1/2 hour, simmering on low and covered.
- Let it sit covered to cool, until it is just cool enough to handle.
- Pour and strain into plastic bucket through a clean washed pillowcase, or through a colander lined with doubled cheese cloth, nothing beats a pillowcase especially for wringing out the liquid and keeping larger particles from passing into your wine. the colander is just a precaution, and to support the weight, ( ideally find one that your bucket supports, or put the colander in a funnel that sits firmly on the rim of your bucket, or just use a large funnel and sit your nylon stocking in it.)
- Press whatever liquid you can through the pillowcase or cheese cloth. (Make sure your hands are washed and clean first).
- When liquid is room temperature or a little warmer. Take one cup of liquid, (using a clean or sterile utensil), add it your cup of lukewarm water and stir in the yeast. Let sit for 5-10 minutes or until yeast starts “working”, (it will start creating fizzing or frothing).
- Add yeast mixture to liquid in plastic bucket, cover with a clean cloth or a clean towel, (tie or use rubber band around the rim so it does not sag and come into contact with the liquid), and let sit for 1 or 2 weeks at room temperature undisturbed or until you can hear no more fizzing.
- Note, if you do not hear fizzing within 24 hours of adding yeast. Put your liquid back in the pot, boil for 10 minutes, cover, wait for it to cool enough to just above body temperature and go through the process of adding your yeast again.
- After a week or two, when your wine has stopped “working” or fizzing, “rack” it to a sterile carboy or to your sterile one gallon glass jugs if you don’t have a large narrow necked glass carboy. Racking in wine lingo means siphoning off your clear wine from the must that has settled on the bottom. Pouring it out would just mix in the must and carry its taste over.
- Keeping a minimum of space between the top of your liquid and the top of the bottle is helpful. If needed add room temperature boiled water to bring liquid level up to 3 to 4 inches from the lip in a gallon jug and 6 to 7 inches in a large carboy.
- Add CO2 locks, From a wine supply store, about $1.00 each. Or a piece of balloon rubber pulled tightly over the opening and tied, with a couple of pin holes in it for gas to escape and keep organisms out. Let sit, undisturbed in a cool dark place for secondary fermentation. Cool basements are ideal for this.
- Wait 4-6 weeks, then siphon the wine off the must again, but this time into your sterile bottles.( Note; For those more experienced with wine making, you can do whatever you like at this point. You can put it back in a sterile carboy and continue your secondary fermentation, rack it as often as you like, pump it through a filter, play with the sugar/alcohol content, flavouring etc.)
- Cork, cap and set aside till December at the earliest.
In December, open, decant, and have a taste of Spring in the middle of Winter.
Remember to keep CLEAR notes. Your future self will thank you.