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Dandelion wine to secondary fermentation

dandelion Wine to secondary fermentation
dandelion Wine to secondary fermentation. a little lighter in colour.

Well, finally, after what seems like months of babying, nurturing and feeding my dandelion wine during its primary fermentation, stretching it out for many weeks more than it is usually called for, I have given it its final racking and taken it down to the cool basement to sit for the next few months. I hope the only work I have left to do on it now is racking it every few weeks till it is bottled, just to make sure there’s not too much Dandelion Wine must on the bottom and to keep its flavor and color clear.
I did take a bit of a side road making this dandelion wine when I accommodated the 20 L carboy from a 14 L original batch of wine.
To fill-in the gaps and catch up a bit with this story line, I need to add that I’ve fed my primary fermentation slowly for weeks now, after adding an extra 6 L of water. I fed it with sugar syrup and after making the candied Angelica,

Candied Angelica- Boiling in syrup @145 till Translucent
Candied Angelica Boiling in syrup @145 till Translucent

I fed it slowly with the leftover Angelica syrup till the syrup was gone. This added  extra flavor and a touch of Angelica fragrance to the dandelion wine which seems quite complementary. However, only the final tasting, after the bottles have sat for months, will really tell me if it’s a success or not.

Sorted & Cleaned Dandelion Flowers May 2013
Sorted & Cleaned Dandelion Flowers May 2013

All in all I’ve added about an extra 1kg of sugar to the original recipe with the extra 6 liters of water. I will adjust that recipe accordingly now.

People have asked whether it is possible to add sugar and/or water during primary fermentation, so the answer is, obviously, yes. I think, realistically, there is a set amount of sugar that each type of yeast can handle. Once the yeast has turned it into the highest percentage of alcohol it can tolerate, the yeast will cease to work and the rest of the sugar is left as sweetness in the wine. Whether that sugar is added all at once at the beginning of the primary fermentation, or added slowly over the course of weeks, may make no difference. If I had not decided to stretch my 14 liter batch to 20 liters, the original amount of sugar would have sufficed and given a very dry wine. However, that being said, I would not have had that delightful extra, classic, flavour of Angelica in my Dandelion Wine if I had not stretched out the primary fermentation for so long. Having made a note in my formula book, I will be better prepared next spring and synchronize the making of Candied Angelica Stalks so the left over syrup goes directly into next years dandelion wine. I will make it part of the recipe.

Dandelion Wine working at Primary Fermentation. Fizzing, hissing and in general purring contently like a cat.
Dandelion Wine working at Primary Fermentation. Fizzing, hissing and in general purring contently like a cat. The colour was intense! adding 6 liters of water to it toned it down a bit, but the colour is still lovely and rich.

As I mentioned in my most recent post because I used 3 kg of fresh dandelion flowers it gave enough strength to the flavor that I could stretch it by a third without affecting the flavor. Though the color is not as intense as it was before adding the water, it is still a beautiful yellow color and the Dandelion flavor is very much intact.
I will probably rack the wine two more times during its secondary fermentation.
And in a month or so I will bottle it in sterile bottles with sterile corks, slap on some labels and put it aside until December.

Dan

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Dandelion wine to secondary fermentation-Finally

dandelion Wine to secondary fermentation
Dandelion Wine to secondary fermentation

 

Well, finally, after what seems like months of babying, nurturing and feeding my dandelion wine during its primary fermentation, stretching it out for many weeks more than it is usually called for, I have given it it’s final racking, and taken it down to the cool basement to sit for the next few months. I hope the only work I have left to do on it now is racking it every few weeks till it is bottled, just to make sure there’s not too much Dandelion Wine must on the bottom and to keep its flavor and color clear.
I did take a bit of a side road making this dandelion wine when I accommodated the 20 L carboy from a 14 L original batch of wine.
To fill-in the gaps and catch up a little bit with this story line, I need to add that I’ve been feeding my primary fermentation slowly for weeks now, after adding an extra 6 L of water. I fed it with sugar syrup and after making the candied Angelica,

Candied Angelica- Boiling in syrup @145 till Translucent
Candied Angelica- Boiling in syrup @145 till Translucent

I fed it slowly with the leftover Angelica syrup till the syrup was gone. This added a little extra flavor and a touch of Angelica fragrance to the dandelion wine which seems quite complementary. However, only the final tasting, after the bottles have sat for months, will really tell me if it’s a success or not.

Sorted & Cleaned Dandelion Flowers May 2013
Sorted & Cleaned Dandelion Flowers May 2013

All in all I’ve added about an extra 1kg of sugar to the original recipe with 6 liters of water. I will adjust that recipe accordingly now. People have been asking whether it is possible to add sugar and/or water during primary fermentation, so the answer is, obviously, yes. I think, realistically, there is a set amount of sugar that each type of yeast can handle. Once the yeast has turned it into the maximum percentage of alcohol it can tolerate, the yeast will cease to work and the rest of the sugar is left as sweetness in the wine. Whether that sugar is added all at once at the beginning of the primary fermentation, or added slowly over the course of weeks, may make no difference. If I had not decided to stretch my 14 liter batch to 20 liters, the original amount of sugar would have sufficed and given a very dry wine. However, that being said, I would not have had that delightful extra, classic, flavour of Angelica in my Dandelion Wine if I had not stretched out the primary fermentation for so long. Having made a note in my formula book, I will be better prepared next spring and synchronize the making of Candied Angelica Stalks so the left over syrup goes directly into next years dandelion wine. Make it part of the recipe.
As I mentioned in my most recent post because I used 3 kg of fresh dandelion flowers it gave enough strength to the flavor that I could stretch it by a third without affecting the flavor. Though the color is not as intense as it was before adding the water, it is still a beautiful yellow color and the Dandelion flavor is very much intact.
I will probably rack the wine two more times during its secondary fermentation.
And in a month or so I will bottle it in sterile bottles with sterile corks, slap on some labels and put it aside until December.

Dan

 

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Dandelion Wine, how to save a Wildflower Wine-part 2

I’ve noticed more questions regarding problems with Wildflower Wines are coming in via Google search terms.
Since I’ve had some challenges with my own batch of 2013 dandelion wine, it seems appropriate to address them here and share their solutions in case it is of help to anyone who feels stuck with the same problems.
My first piece of advice to everyone attempting to make a wildflower wine is “Don’t Panic“. And while I could be accused of using that approach far too often in life, I consistently find that a few deep grounding breaths do wonders for putting things back in perspective. There usually are solutions that are hidden by our perspective and panic.

Though we have tried to keep things sterile and control the environment as best we can to avoid obvious mistakes and “wine gone wrong” scenarios, I have found that wild wine making is a robust and forgiving process which allows for much improvisation and room for flexibility. If your intent is not to create a commercial masterpiece for sale to the public, something you can duplicate precisely year to year, but to explore the ancient art of wine making, for your own satisfaction, share a cool homemade wine with friends and family, and to enjoy the process, then you have come to the right place.

Dandelion wine-First "real" racking to 20 liter glass carboy.
Dandelion wine-First “real” racking to 20 liter glass carboy. Note the heavy glass pot lid holding the siphon in place, something improvised or a clamp keep the lees from getting stirred up and following the clear must to the fresh carboy. Racking the must off the lees keeps them from adding their flavour to the wine.

Any creative endeavor we pursue, is as much about our own process and working with ourselves as it is about the materials we are working with and the product we are creating. Our own transformative and Alchemical process.

Looking back I note how I have been affected by all the materials and processes I engaged over the years as an artist, craftsman and Apothecary, I have evolved and grown as an individual through all my creative pursuits, challenged and manipulated, coloured and shaped by them all, and in a way, they have all become parts of me. I have grown particularly through the challenges. Just as our Dandelion flowers are transformed into Dandelion Wine through processes of fermentation, clarification and patience at our hand. From a simple flower into something complex and sublimated, so too are we engaged and affected by the process, touched & transformed through the challenges of our creativity and our willingness to expand and explore outside ourselves. The real Alchemy and transmutation is what goes on within us.

If you don’t mind creating a slightly different version of wine each season, and perhaps a better one as well, if you are not trying to produce a commercial “fine wine” and treat it as an exact science, then it is important to remember to simply do your best with the resources you have, enjoy yourself. Embrace the process and challenges, let them change you for the better. Learn, grow and enjoy. Most importantly, enjoy.

Dandelion Wine 2013 first racking of 14 liters to 20 liter carboy
Dandelion Wine 2013 first racking of 14 liters to 20 liter carboy. 6 liters distilled water needs to be added.
Dandelion Wine-Primary fermentation, second run after racking.
Dandelion Wine- Second Primary fermentation, after adding distilled water.

It’s been close to two weeks since I added extra distilled water and decided to extend my batch of dandelion wine to make 20 liters from the 14 liter recipe, See “How to “Save” a Wildflower Wine) Since putting it back in the plastic bucket for primary fermentation it didn’t seem to be doing too much. I assumed that yesterday, after 2 weeks it must have finished its primary fermentation, so I racked it into the 20 liter glass carboy for secondary fermentation. (I nailed the quantity pretty much perfectly!)
Lo and behold, it started vigorously working!! Hissing, fizzing, bubbling away, working like there was no tomorrow. It had not gone through primary fermentation at all since I returned it to the bucket with the extra distilled water!

I can only assume that because of the cold snap we had for a week or so, (down to 2-4 degrees Celsius some nights!!), and because it was on the floor where it is always cooler, it did not have enough heat for the primary fermentation process to kick in properly. It must have sat close to 2 weeks not really doing much of anything. Funny as it may seem, I just assumed my hearing was at fault after fifty odd years, and that I was the only one that was not hearing the hissing of the process. It must have been the power of suggestion that compelled everyone who checked it for me to state that they definitely heard fizzing. There is a moral there somewhere.

I am going to say I was lucky no other organism got the jump on fermenting the must while the wine yeast was contemplating navels, (or the juice of the Navel oranges I added), as could have happened.
Racking it into the carboy on the second day of a heatwave really got it going! Perhaps the agitation of racking helped stir it to action, so I’m going to leave it loosely covered and wait till it stops hissing and bubbling and then rack it again and put the CO2 lock on it for a real secondary fermentation.

Dandelion Wine working at Primary Fermentation. Fizzing, hissing and in general purring contently like a cat.
Dandelion Wine “working” at Primary Fermentation. Fizzing, hissing and in general purring contentedly like a cat.

Gauging by some of the questions I’ve seen on the search stats I believe that others have experienced a similar problem so if you’ve had your wine not doing much of anything in primary fermentation, staying sweet, and wondered what you were doing wrong, this may have been the reason, and may provide you with a happy ending. Proper temperature is definitely necessary for primary fermentation. As far as I know, once the primary fermentation has kicked in, it creates its own heat which will keep the must warm and working till the sugar content has been completely consumed. Wikipedia has some of the basic information, and always is a great starting place for questions. This is also a good time to mention that besides sugar, wine yeasts need other nutrients to thrive. Adding some “Yeast nutrient” to your not fermenting wine is also something that should be tried if you are stuck, before you give up.

Before this last most recent racking, the wine was still tasting rather sweet though it was tolerable. Considering that the secondary fermentation would reduce the sugar a little further, it still would’ve made a nice wine with adequate alcohol. If after this current primary fermentation or during second fermentation, I find that it is too dry for my taste, I can add sugar or glucose to sweeten it without initiating the primary fermentation again. I will cross that bridge and share it here, if and when I get to it.

I will keep you posted.

Till then, remember to keep legible notes. Your future self will thank you.
Dan.

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Dandelion Wine, How to save a Wildflower Wine.

I racked the 2013 Dandelion wine yesterday. It had done most of its work so it was time for a change. The colour is deep yellow, it left a gummy bright yellow ring around the inside of the white plastic bucket. I assume this was created for the most part by the pollen in the flowers. It took a good scrubbing with hot water and soap to remove it.

First racking-Dandelion Wine 2013
First racking-Dandelion Wine 2013..Note: do not feel discouraged if your Dandelion wine is not as rich and bright a yellow as this photo,i think the purple background has made the yellow look much brighter than it actually is!!

The Dandelion wine smells good, musty,(yeasty), “winey” ,and the alcohol content is evident in the aroma. After you have done a few rounds of wildflower wines you will get to know what they should smell like at each stage and be able to tell by the smell whether all is well or not.

Drawing off a half cup full for a taste test, I found it did have a high alcohol content, warming my mouth and tummy as it went “down”.

It is obvious the sugar in the recipe was converted to alcohol, which has left the wine rather dry but potent. I am going to make some adjustments and I will share them here for the sake of showing the other side of recipes, which is that some things are simple, and some more complex. What can we do when things go wrong? Making cookies takes an hour, making wine much longer. Having a recipe is great, but it is only a starting point. With fermentation we are dealing with a process that takes months, influenced along the way by many factors. Lots of things can go wrong and I have seen numerous queries wondering if a wine is salvageable.

For this reason I am going to address some of the questions that have been coming in through the search terms in my stats area, there have been some really good questions indicating difficulties people have had with the process of making Wildflower wine. I will take this opportunity to address some of those questions here, at least for those in the future that may have them, and do a practical demonstration of some options of how to save your wine if it is save-able.

Search queries for dandelion wine.

“How to clean Dandelions for wine”. Yes it is important to remove the stems from the Dandelion flowers however, however it is not necessary to remove the green “crown” of leaf material that sits directly under the yellow petals. Don’t worry about this part. When cleaning the Dandelion flowers for wine, spread them all out after picking, remove all stems, debris, leaf pieces that got mixed in during harvesting but leave the rest.

Cleaning Dandelion flowers for wine 2013
Cleaning Dandelion flowers for wine 2013. remove the stems but leave the green”crown” that is directly under the petals.

“Looks like mold on top of my Dandelion wine” There have been a few queries through Google, searching for answers to this question. Sometimes a scum will form as part of the natural fermentation process, especially if one used a coarse filtering material when straining the cooked ingredients. You will find something similar on top of a natural brine when pickling cucumbers for instance. There is nothing wrong with this layer on top of your wildflower wine. When you use a siphon and do your first racking you will collect the liquid between the top scum and the bottom dross and toss the rest. If it really is mold,,? Normally not, but I guess it can happen. If it has added an unpleasant flavour or aroma to the wine then I would toss it and start fresh. I would proceed to check the status of your wine. Has it properly fermented? If so, no worries. If it still has a high sugar content and a low alcohol content a week or two after starting, then something is wrong, the fermentation did not kick in and other organisms may have got the lead in establishing themselves, if this is the case I would probably dump it and start fresh, though if you prefer, you can try to save it. Scrub and sterilize all your tools and vessels well, don’t forget to make sure the sodium Metabisulfite reaches the insides of hoses, siphons and funnels. Siphon the wine back into the pot and repeat the cooking process as described in the recipe. I would look back on the circumstances of the “botched” first attempt and see what I may have done wrong and what could be changed to avoid the problem again, (If it was indeed some kind of mold). Primary fermentation needs to be at a relatively warm temperature, secondary fermentation in a cooler spot like a basement. I don’t know what the exact temperature needed is, but I would say around 18-21 Celsius for primary fermentation, sitting at too cool a temperature could give other organisms a good growth environment and make it harder for our yeasty beasties to establish a healthy colony.- I would also wonder if I had all my tools and vessels thoroughly sterilized before making the wine. Again, this is an opening for other bacteria and organisms to hijack your wine. So make sure the must has boiled a good 20 minutes and make sure all tools and vessels are sterilized properly and thoroughly! If you like you can add a little yeast nutrient with the yeast to help kick start it again, (This is also purchased at the wine making supply store). Cover and put your bucket in a warm place to ferment and check after a day or two to make sure it is “working”, fizzing etc. If this does not get your Dandelion Wine back on track, then you will have to start from scratch.

  • Balsamic vinegar, red and white wine vinegar
    Balsamic vinegar, red and white wine vinegar. Maybe some cool Dandelion Wine Vinegar too?? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • “My dandelion wine tastes like vinegar”. Well,,, this does happen, and often it is because tools were not properly sterilized or contaminants were introduced to the wine must during the fermentation process. Rumor has it that fruit flies sneaking in for a drink can lead to this problem, so make sure your fermenting wine is covered tightly with a cloth that lets in air needed for primary fermentation and keeps out the bugs. If it really has produced vinegar instead of alcohol, I would either try to make a unique salad vinegar from it or pour it in the garden. I have heard that there might be ways to save a batch of wine like this if it hasn’t been allowed to go too far. But I would just let it go and start fresh. Dandelions are abundant and the rest of the materials relatively inexpensive, one could spend many hours trying to save it and it usually is not worth the time, stress and effort
  • “Can I add sugar to my Dandelion Wine after fermentation?” Another very good question! Yes! I have tried this on occasion with success. Adjustments can be made during primary fermentation. You can stretch out the primary fermentation for weeks if you like, you could double the quantity of your wine by adding more distilled or room temperature boiled water,sugar and flavourings, (or boiled flower heads), adjust it, baby it, fine tune it, nurture and nourish it for weeks. You can feed it regularly with sugar or other fermentable materials, raising the alcohol content of your wine until it won’t process any more sugar into alcohol and leaves the excess sugar unfermented. Each type of yeast has a ceiling as far as how much alcohol it can tolerate in its environment before it stops “working”. Reaching that point would usually be the indicator it is time to start your secondary fermentation and work on maturing your wine. Some specialty yeasts that can be purchased at wine making supply stores are designed specifically for flower wines, and some have a higher threshold or tolerance of alcohol in their growing environment. This is where you can do some improvising if you are not happy with your wine or if you think it has “gone bad”.
  • So, for the sake of illustrating this option of how to “Save” ones wine by working with it during primary fermentation, and for those that have had various questions about mishaps with dandelion or wild flower wine I hope what follows will present a bit of a practical demonstration of flexibility in the process. The original Dandelion Wine recipe makes 12-15 liters of wine, I only have a 20 liter glass carboy available at the moment, so instead of using 3 or 4 one gallon jugs for the secondary fermentation, I will increase the quantity of wine I am making to accommodate a 20 liter glass carboy. And I still hope to end up with a stellar homemade wild dandelion flower wine.
    Dandelion Wine 2013 Topping 14 liters wine to 18 liters in 20 liter carboy
    Dandelion Wine 2013. Topping 14 liters wine to 18 liters in 20 liter carboy. Note the ring of bubbles indicating fermentation of the new sugar.

    Dandelion Wine 2013 first racking of 14 liters to 20 liter carboy
    Dandelion Wine 2013 first racking of 14 liters to 20 liter carboy.

Since i used 3 kilograms of flower heads in my original recipe, It produced a very rich dandelion flower base, and I can afford to thin it out. I called for 3 kg. in the recipe but even 2 kg would have worked well, it would have just produced a “lighter ” wine. I am going to put my racked wine back in the re-sterilized plastic bucket after adding water and sugar to it and bringing the total volume to 20 liters. I have added 1 gallon, or 4 liters of distilled water and then 1 Kilogram of white sugar, it started working again immediately, (Note the ring of bubbles around the top of the liquid after adding sugar). I will check it in a few days to see if the sugar has been processed into alcohol, and may add more sugar at that time. If your wine shows no reaction to the addition of sugar you can add a little yeast nutrient, if that does not get it going and the fermentation still does not start, add a fresh package or tablespoon of yeast,(as per the recipe). This is the point in your wine making endeavor where you can get creative. When setting up this “re-fermentation” you can adjust and play with the flavour and fragrance of your wine by adding spices and other ingredients. The only cautions I would include are, go easy, better a little less of a flavour than too much, and make sure everything that goes into your fermenting wine must is sterile, which usually means boiling things and adding them after they are room temperature. Keep it in a warm place and check on it regularly to make sure it is working properly.

Dandelion Wine 2013-Racking back to bucket
Dandelion Wine 2013-Racking back to the bucket.

So, we have taken a 14 liter recipe for wild dandelion wine and are extending it so it will fill a 20 liter carboy, opening the door to adjusting the quantity and the qualities of our wine beyond our original recipe. We have made a pit stop in the process.This should provide an idea of where, when and how you can improvise with a recipe to save or improve a homemade, or wildflower wine that has gone awry, (or one you are just not happy with). Sometimes the best way to learn is by doing, and learning through our mistakes.

Remember, always keep (clear) notes, especially when improvising. Your future self will thank you.

Dan

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Dandelion Wine 2013

Remember how I always say “keep notes”?
Let me clarify and add a very important detail to that statement,,..Don’t just keep notes, but keep CLEAR notes. Notes that you can actually read accurately in case you want to duplicate, adjust or share your recipe!

I am a little embarrassed,( well a lot actually!), and have felt a little stressed about this, but, My “Best”Dandelion Wine recipe, Has a flaw. It won’t yield the 12 L that I stated, But only 8 L. This due to not being able to read my own handwriting!!
The recipe now has the correct amounts to fill a 12 -15 liter carboy
12 liters water, 3 kg, (not quarts), of dandelion flowers cleaned.
I also wanted to add that while a nylon stocking is a brilliant trick for filtering infused herbal oils, which I have done a lot of recently, it will be nearly impossible to fit a pot full of boiled Dandelion flowers and orange pulp into it!! What I should have added as a nifty way to filter your wine, was a clean Pillowcase!  I think that is it as far as corrections to that recipe go.

Dandelion Wine 2013

Prime Dandelion Wine real estate.
Prime Dandelion Wine real estate. Sometimes, timing ,is everything. Dundas Ontario
Dandelion Flowers for Dandelion Wine
Dandelion Flower Diva. If you have a counterpart/partner/”friend”, Spring, Flowers and Love are a magical combination that can make both the process and your Wildflower  Wine memorable.

Since we are on the subject, and after getting  this years batch of Dandelion Wine into primary fermentation over the weekend, I might as well add a couple of words.

  • There is a lot of leeway when it comes to improvising with various flavoring materials, not only can you play with adding more, or less Oranges, lemons, cloves and Wild Ginger etc. you can explore adding other natural materials to your Wild Flower Wine. For instance I added 60 grams of oleo-resin of Frankincense Papyrifera  to this last “Beltane” batch of Dandelion flower Wine. Something about it makes me think it will add something unique and beneficial to both the flavour and the aroma of this batch. I will find out if it actually does, in December.
Cleaning Dandelion Flowers for Dandelion Wine
Cleaning Dandelion Flowers for Dandelion Wine. All it takes is on small ray of sunshine to shine.
 Dandelion Wine.Squeeze out all your liquid through a pillowcase
Dandelion Wine. Squeeze out all your liquid through a pillowcase
Dandelion flowers after cooking. In pillowcase and cone colander for straining.
Dandelion flowers after cooking. In pillowcase and cone colander for straining.
  • There have been some inquiries about adding water, or topping up a wine. If you need to add some liquid to a wildflower wine recipe, at any stage of fermentation, you can usually add a couple of liters of room temperature boiled or distilled water to a 12-15 liter batch,without worrying that you might be diluting it or affecting the flavour too much. This is sometimes  required when you want to keep the volume of air in the secondary fermentation to a minimum.
  •  Remember it is always wise to use a light hand when trying something new in a recipe, and you can only really test the effects of any additions or adjustments when your wine is ready to drink,  so make sure to take notes, and learn from both your successes and failures. Life is a process.

I will post updates on this batch of Wildflower wine as the process unfolds, and hope to share a review of the final product in December when it is ready for consumption.

Until then, enjoy these gorgeous spring days, and don’t forget to keep notes. Clear, readable, notes. Your future self will thank you.

Dan

Posted on 9 Comments

My Best Dandelion Wine Recipe

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.

Bloodroot flowering Dundas Ontario April 2013. Harbinger of Spring
Bloodroot flowering Dundas Ontario Harbinger of Spring
 A field of Scilla. Dundas Ontario.
A field of Scilla. Cross Street Dundas Ontario.
Bloodroot flowering Dundas Ontario April 2013. Harbinger of Spring
Bloodroot flowering Dundas Ontario April 2013. Harbinger of Spring
Mayapple and Scilla 2013
Mayapple and Scilla 2013

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.

English: Various common fermentation vessels f...
English: Various common fermentation vessels for homebrewing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Dan

Posted on 23 Comments

How to make Violet Syrup-a Wildflower Recipe

A Wood Sprite told me last week it was almost Friday, and she had spied some Violets open and ready, suggested it might be time to make some Violet flower syrup. Unfortunately it rained most of that day, so visiting the Violets was postponed. I hope this coming Friday the weather will be better suited for harvesting Violet flowers.

English: Violets on the Flitch Way Sweet Viole...
English: Violets on the Flitch Way Sweet Violets Viola odorata growing along the old Braintree to Bishops Stortford Railway. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

   It is a simple recipe and provides the most gorgeous purple cooling and refreshing summer drink. Though it is a bit of a delicate procedure, temperature being critical to colour, it is well worth the effort.  It is the prettiest and  the most refreshing summer drink I have ever made! One other cool thing about Violet flower syrup, is that when you mix it in water it transforms to a translucent Lavender colour, and if you decide to “tarten” it up a bit with an acid  like lemon juice, it transforms to magenta! But if you add an alkaline to it, it will turn Green! (Mineral water??). Historically it was used a one of the first “Litmus” papers, before there were Litmus papers. 

  You can mix it with water or club soda/Perrier and still get the lovely colour changes and superb refreshment. Medicinally it is great for cooling down heated conditions, physically and emotionally,(anger etc.). Similarly, the leaves are traditionally used to treat “hot” tumors, boils, inflammations etc.

Violets
Venus And Violets

 Astrodynamically, like Friday, it is Ruled by Venus, Planet of beauty and Love among other things, and is cooling and moist in its nature. (As opposed to Saturns energy which can be cold and dry. 

  • As with most other flower wines, we want as much of the coloured petals and the least amount of green stem or leaf possible. When you find a nice thick carpet of flowering Violets in all their royal Spring purpleness, you will often be able slide your slightly parted fingers under the flowers, close the gaps between your fingers as you withdraw your hand, and harvest quite a few flowers at a time. Then just keep skimming them with your fingers, popping off the flowers till your hand can hold no more and you start picking more off the ground than you are collecting. Put them in your bag or basket and keep on skimming, moving over the more thickly populated areas till you have the required amount. Don’t be fooled by how simple the process is, it does take time to accumulate any significant quantity. Especially since they need to be compacted before they are measured for your syrup. I usually use a large paper liqueur store bag to collect them, keeping them always in the shade and cool. Then, off to home to do a final cleaning, separating as much green as I can, discarding any leaf, stem, substandard, dried or aged flowers.

Wild Violets-Viola Odorata

In our area we can find purple Violets, White Violets, white Violet flowers with purple speckles and various combinations of the three. For Violet Syrup we only want Purple flowered Violets. The deeper the colour, the better. Don’t be surprised if you find they don’t have much of a fragrance. At least in our area of North America. For many years I assumed that being a perfume ingredient, Violet flowers would have a fragrance worth capturing, they don’t. In perfume Violet leaf absolute is used, it has a sweet, green, floral earthy scent and imparts a beautiful green hue to your perfume. I know that Pansies, which are cousins of Viola Odorata, ( and edible in reasonable quantities), do sometimes have a lovely scent, and someday I will try making a Violet syrup from a purple fragrant strain. 

 Viola Odorata

Violet flowers do not dry very easily. Well, they dry easily enough but also lose their colour very easily. Perhaps pressed in the leaves of a book, safe from any moisture and absolutely no  heat or UV rays they might keep longer. In general they fade quickly with exposure to light. So something to keep in mind, is to store your dried Violets and your violet flower syrup in as dark a place as possible, cool is good too, so a fridge does come to mind.

  • If you are going to harvest Violet flowers for syrup, please have a look at  my earlier blog, “9 tips for  making a Kick ass Wild flower Wine”. It will give you some insight how to make the very best Violet syrup.
  • One difference between making Violet Syrup and Dandelion Wine, is that it is best if the Violet flowers are dry. Not so much because of spoilage, but because we want to avoid anything that might dilute their beautiful colour such as a higher water content in the recipe..
  • Violets proliferate and propagate themselves by seed and root, and though they are extremely resilient, please be considerate of the plants. 
  • Don’t harvest them all. If there is an abundance of them, spread your “footprint” out so your harvest is not too obvious.
  • Leave some for others to enjoy. Good Wild crafting etiquette.
  • Always give something back, Nature loves balance and will always find a way to keep it. Whether it is at your expense or not.

Paper bag, an open bucket or basket kept in the shade, are the rule for harvesting most herbs and mushrooms in the wild. Plastic does not allow air circulation, holds in moisture, can be a breeding ground for bacteria, especially if you don’t get to process your herbs immediately as can often happen with the complexities of life. Plastic containers can accelerate decomposition, especially if it is warm out,. It can cause them to wilt, and age before you even get your harvest to the kitchen. With Violet flowers, I find sometimes it is a good idea to fluff them up occasionally, allowing fresh air to the ones that are getting packed into the bottom of your collection. This also helps disperse any dew or rain that might be lingering on them. They are a more delicate harvest than most.

 A RECIPE FOR WILD VIOLET FLOWER SYRUP

  • 4 cups, or a one liter container, of cleaned, very tightly packed fresh Violet flowers.
  • 6 cups, or 1-1/2 liters of boiling water
  • 16 cups, or approximately 4 Kilograms of white sugar.
  • Do NOT add lemon juice! Though someone I very much respect calls for this in a violet flower syrup recipe, it will turn your beautiful purple to a magenta, which, though nice, is something you can do later in a glass with your purple syrup. If you add it while making your syrup, you will immediately lose the purple of the Violet.

Preparation

  • Put Violet flowers in a glass or enameled pot with lid. Only use stainless steel if you have to.
  • Bring water to a boil.
  • Pour the water over the Violet Flowers, cover tightly.
  •  Let sit overnight at room temperature or slightly above it. On top of the fridge sometimes works.
  • After 24 hours or so, press out as much of the liquid as you can.  (See nylon stocking in how to make a kick ass dandelion wine), or use a clean herb press with a nylon stocking.
  •  Measure out your purple liquid and put it through a very clean paper, (or mesh), coffee filter. (Make sure to enjoy the colour!).
  • Add your liquid to the now washed and clean pot.
  • For every 1 Cup, of liquid, add 2-1/4 cups white granulated sugar.
  • Bring slowly to a boil on medium heat stirring till sugar dissolves.
  •  Skim of the scum as it collects, (It will be a beautiful purple colour), but DO NOT LET IT COME TO A FULL BOIL!
  • Take it off the heat,
  • Wait for 5 minutes and repeat the process. Again, stirring, but do not let it actually boil.
  • Take it off the heat. Put the lid back on and let it cool till it can be handled or poured into vessels without cracking them.
  • If you have hot sterile bottles or jars to store it in, then use them. (You can pour it in hot). Personally, I love having it sit in a cut glass decanter. Beautiful to behold! I find it will keep for a few weeks, (or longer) in a decanter, months if I sterilize it first. (With Sodium Metabisulphite,make sure to follow the instructions that come with it.)   If you don’t have sterile canning jars or bottles, keeping it in the fridge will preserve it for weeks if not months.
  • Because of the lack, (and the expectation), of a sweet fragrance, I will often add one drop per two cups syrup, of essential oil of Neroli, distilled from the flowers of the bitter orange, right before I bottle the syrup. Feel free to explore this path of enhancing the Violet flower syrup, but keep in mind to only use real essential oils, never fragrance oils or chemically identical substitutes. Another point to keep in mind is that some fragrances are much stronger than Neroli essential oil, such as Jasmine Absolute. So use them accordingly.

 Have fun.
 And remember to always keep notes. Your future self will thank you.

Dan

Posted on 4 Comments

9 Tips- for making a Kick Ass Wildflower Wine

Now is the season, the possibilities of this years bounty are starting to bubble up in our minds. Wild wines, Jams, Jellies, confections and preserves, fritters and frittatas. Wild Mushrooms and May-apples. SPRING is here! Symbol of potential and new beginnings, new endeavors. so let’s get started.

Experience has shown me a good recipe is only part of the work, and often not as important to the result as HOW we go about making our wildcrafted delicacies. Since Dandelion Wine is one of the first Wild wines we can make, and in many North American areas, there is still time to make it, I will use Dandelion Wine as our example. These TIPS can be applied to all your planned productions from Mother Natures Bounty each season and year.

Dandelion Wine is a Spring tradition internationally. More than just a beverage. It can capture the essence of the season, and since it should sit for a few months to mature, you shouldn’t really drink it till Winter. Yule or Christmas or Chanukah time, capturing a taste and memory of springs light and warmth to savour during the dreary cold dark and dead of winter.

A pest and a blessing. Love them or hate them, either way we simply have to live with them. As persistent and adaptable as the proverbial cockroach, they are going nowhere, and we will never be rid of them, so might as well embrace them in all their bitter, medicinal, sweet and sunny glory.

dandelion
dandelion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are hundreds of recipes for Home made Dandelion Wine. I can’t tell you which is the best. I am sure every year there are more being developed as more people explore making it, and with the speed and proficiency of internet communication there are probably more wonderful recipes being posted as I write this. Whatever recipe you use, these tips are guaranteed to take it to a whole new level!!

– Not all Dandelions are equal .When it comes to making Dandelion Wine. You can’t just chop down any Dandelion flower at any time of the year in any place willy nilly so to speak and expect to make a superb wine. One dandelion is not the same as all other dandelions! First of all, if we are going to use them for our dandelion wine, we need to wait for them. That’s right.

–If you want Wild Mushrooms, you hunt them.

–If you want Dandelions for wine, you wait for them. Seriously.

1- Wait patiently , keep your eye open for where and when they will rise, you know where they will appear. Because you have noticed them,(consciously or not), year after year while your subconscious toyed with the idea of making something with that abundance that seems to be wasted. You are a creative spirit. Have all your tools, materials and vessels ready and sterilized, and a place ,(kitchen?), to do your magic planned. Be prepared!

2 – What is it that you are waiting for? You are waiting for that first county-wide Yellow Shout of Spring Joy from the earth, and that big outward push of those Dandy Lions from the sweet loins of mother nature en mass. That is the sweet spot!. There is usually only one per year. And it is worth waiting for! It could last two weeks, or it could only last a few days before a run of cold cloudy rainy weather puts a damper on it. There will be no more of a glorious or perfect a time to harvest Dandelion flowers for wine than this. Period. Sure, there will be more Dandelion flowers all summer long, and yes you could make dandelion wine at some later point in the season. But y’know what? It simply won’t be the same, and you will never know it unless you try this out.

English: Dead Football Ground with Dandelions,...
English: Dead Football Ground with Dandelions, Barnsley, Shropshire The building is the former changing rooms (home team this end, please!). A set of goal posts still leans against one wall. Dandelion wine makers, please take note. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So,,.Do enjoy Spring, relax and breath it in, take a few days to let that warm spring glow take the winter chill out of your bones, but DON’T miss that first yellow window! Seriously, when I do miss that first virgin big yellow swath of dandelioness everywhere, I will most often just wait till the next spring and say, “oh well, it wasn’t meant to be”. That’s how important it is. Having a good recipe is only one part of making the best Dandelion wine.

English: Dandelion clocks near Long Itchington...
TOO LATE!!!
English: Dandelion clocks near Long . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3 – If you can, try to harvest on a SUNDAY. Start as close after dawn as you can. Astrologically this is the day of the Sun and The hour of the Sun. (about an hour and a half to two and a half depending on which system you use for division of Planetary hours), and you only really have to initiate the harvest then, you don’t have to complete your harvest within this time frame. Astrologically, Dandelions are ruled by the Sun. (As are Calendula, and St. John’s Wort). So from an Astrodynamic perspective they are energetically at their peak and prime, resonating and ripe, in happy harmony ,( vigorous and vibrant) at this time. Timing is everything. You can tell, if you look for it. There is an extra vibrancy and glow to them. It is not random, and it’s not your imagination.

astrological glyphs, planetary rulerships.
Astrological Glyphs- Planets and Asteroids -Chaldean. Planets and their dynamics with each other and our world are one element at the core of Astrodynamics and Plant Alchemy.,(ignore the Asteroids for now). Each Plant is associated with an astrological sign, planet or both. As is each day, Monday-the Moon, Tuesday-Mars etc., and each “Station” of the Moon as she goes through a Lunar cycle is ruled by a different sign of the Zodiac..

There are other Astrological conditions that you could take into account, but if you are not familiar with the energetic connection between plants and planets, Astrological rulerships, Planetary hours and the basics of Plant Alchemy, this is a great place to start. Especially since you may not have a wide window of time to work with. Does working with plants according to their astrological rulerships make a noticeable difference in quality? I believe so. But,, you will have to try it and find out for yourself.It’s just one of those things. Esoteric, because you have to experience it from the inside to know it. Experience it first hand, first person. It is not exoteric knowledge, learned from the outside as most knowledge is transmitted to us.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday would be second best choices, ruled by Mercury, Jupiter and Venus in that order. Here is a link to a great site that is a primer for Astrodynamics, Planetary Rulerships, and Plant Alchemy, check it out ,http://humanityhealing.net/2012/08/astrology-and-the-use-of-herbs/

4 – Morning Dew Often, when harvesting herbs for drying, it is important to pick when the dew is dried from them, to avoid encouraging mold and other organisms while they are drying.. When harvesting flowers for wine, you do not have to wait till all the dew has dried off, morning dew is a unique ingredient. So don’t shake it off. If you have it, keep it..

5 – Find a spot where where there is an obvious abundance of Dandelions, an area rich in whatever it is that Dandelions thrive on. Physically and energetically. Don’t get too close to busy roadways where pollution from exhausts might have seeped into the ground, or anywhere there might be a chance herbicides or pesticides may have been used, and stay away from areas that may have been home to, or down hill from old industrial buildings or old land fill sites. Stay away from areas sparsely populated by Dandelion, go for the gusto! There is a reason they grow so thickly in some areas.

6 – Harvest them by hand.. not with scissors or knives. Also, If you have helpers, get someone to do the picking, and someone to nip off all the stubs of stems and anything green that is still attached. (Kids are great at this).The green parts are not needed or desired for wine and will only reduce the colour and add their own flavour. We only want the flavour of the flower. Thumbnails work perfectly for harvesting most flowers.

7 – Since you are taking something, always give something back. Whether something physical that is of benefit to the land or plant, a gesture, or something symbolic. Give and receive. Balance. Nature is big on balance. It is a law you can count on. Like Karma.

8 – Make sure all your bottles, spoons, funnels etc. are clean and sterile, if you can’t boil them then use sodium metabisulfite, a standard preservative and sterilizing chemical available in all wine and beer making supply stores. Follow the instructions for using it. It is very, very important to keep everything clean and not introduce any organisms other than the yeast we are intentionally adding.

9 –. USE WILD GINGER I always add Wild Ginger to every wine I make! I am constantly impressed with the magic it performs and the flavours it adds without being obvious or obtrusive in any way. And I am not just trying to perk up sales of Wild Ginger from my shop either. Wild Ginger lends rich character and depth to a wine. It is absolutely transformative. To any wine. Perhaps due to the complexity of its oils and resins. I have heard historically in old Europe, Clary Sage was used for a similar purpose to create “Muscatel” Wine. Clary Sage is also an herb endowed with essential oils ,(in flower), and resins, (on the stem). About a teaspoon to a teaspoon and a half of ground dried Wild Ginger to each gallon,(4 liters) of liquid. I have found this especially benefits floral wines that need body to compliment their lighter and more ethereal spirit.

A treat for the senses, Wild Ginger, Asarum Canadenses offers infinite delights in the kitchen and Perfume studio.
A treat for the senses, Wild Ginger, Asarum Canadenses offers infinite delights in the kitchen and Perfume studio.

So those are the basics of How to make a kick ass Dandelion Wine, You can use these tips with every wild wine you make, and adapt them to all your foraging forays and wildcrafting projects. Here is a simple recipe. One I hope will suit first timers as well as the practiced maker of wild wines. it can be doubled, tripled or halved. It includes a secondary fermentation which many of the old recipes do not include, but I have I found it refines your end product considerably. making it dryer, crisper, clearer and higher in alcohol content. If you find it too complex as a beginner, you will find many simpler and good recipes online. Take what you can from these tips and incorporate them in your project. Start small.

Remember to Always take notes!!! I can’t stress this enough!! Quantities, ingredients, variations from a recipe, observations, times, dates, and keep them somewhere safe for next year. This is really important and if you do keep diligent notes, I guarantee your future self will thank you! If you already have your favourite recipe, try out the tips and let me know how this seasons wines turned out for you.

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 above.
  • 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 pillowcase 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.

Dan

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  • Country wine basket
    Country wine basket (Photo credit: wchuang