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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 6 Comments

Candied Wild Ginger recipe

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

Candied Wild Ginger.

As promised, I am adding the first recipe for Wild Ginger. I will copy it to my Recipe section for easy future reference.

Candied Wild Ginger is probably one of my favourite Wild Ginger recipes. This recipe yields two separate products, candied Wild Ginger and a delicious syrup used for pancakes and ice cream, added to shakes and smoothies, drizzled on Yoghurt and fruit salads and added to  dressings and sauces. In my mind I can almost visualize its spicy sticky sweetness part of some kind of Cinnamon bun recipe. I am sure those of you that are much more accomplished than I at the culinary and confectionery arts could work wonders with it. I have used powdered Wild Ginger with great results in ginger snaps chocolate chip  and peanut butter cookies, but haven’t explored baking to as great a degree as others I know.

I would Love to hear any tips, ideas or Wild Ginger recipes you might have. Or questions, so please, don’t hesitate to leave a note in the comments section.

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

 Candied Wild Ginger

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 cup granulated sugar
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 50 grams dried Wild Ginger broken into 1/2″ to 2″ pieces. 
  • Extra sugar for coating when done.
  • Bring the water to a boil,
  • Give your dry Wild Ginger a quick but thorough scrub in cold water.
  • Add Wild Ginger pieces to boiling water, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Stir in sugar till dissolved and simmer for another 15 minutes.
  • Set aside to cool down to room temperature
  •  Once cooled, put it in a jar and let it sit for 2 days in a covered non metallic jar.
  • Drain all the liquid and let the Wild Ginger pieces stand in a colander till they stop dripping.
  • Take 1 cup of sugar for each 50 grams of original dried Wild Ginger, mix the sugar and Ginger in a bowl till the ginger no longer picks up sugar granules.
  • ( I often let the moist Wild Ginger sit for a few hours in the sugar.)
  • When you are ready, put your candied Wild Ginger loosely into a well sealed glass or ceramic jar to keep for future use .
  1. WILD GINGER SYRUP

  2. Add the sugar-water back to a pot with any sugar left over from coating the candied pieces, heat and stir.

    -When the new sugar dissolves, strain your syrup through a fine sieve, return to the pot and bring to a boil for 10 minutes.

  3. -When cool, bottle in clean or sterile bottles.
  4. This is your Wild Ginger Pancake Syrup. You can either keep it in the fridge for a few weeks,(6?), or “Preserve” it in sterile bottles and keep it longer.
  5.   If you would like it thicker, either add more sugar or boil it down till it thickens further, (or both)! I am sure there are some other culinary tricks for thickening a sugar syrup, but these are the ones I know of. Candied Wild Ginger will last a very long time if not gobbled up as is usually the case. A few years ago I made the mistake of hiding my treasured jar of candied Wild Ginger so well, that I forgot all about it for a couple of years!!. It is now almost 4 years old and is still preserved perfectly and just as mouth-watering as the day it was made!! (see photos).
 Candied Wild Ginger 2009. Still tastes amazing!!!
Candied Wild Ginger 2009.
Candied Wild Ginger 2009. Wild Ginger Syrup.
Candied Wild Ginger, Asarum Canadense 2009. Still tastes amazing!!!
Wild Ginger ready to be candied. Asarum Canadense. 2012 Harvest
Wild Ginger ready to be candied. Asarum Canadense. 2012 Harvest

A closing note to everyone. Though currently, in our area,(Southern Ontario), Wild Ginger is not a protected plant, nor is it on any kind of endangered list. If you already have made its acquaintance, and know where to find it, please treat it with respect and care, it is a privilege.

Give a little something back, either before or after you harvest!

Harvest in a way that is in harmony with the plant and its growth patterns. A way that will encourage its natural propagation and growth, and  not be harmful to the plot you are harvesting from.

One way of doing this is to harvest the more mature “Nodes” as I call them. These are the central points or “Hubs” from which it sent out shoots in past years, which in turn rooted and sent out their own shoots and runners the next year etc. This removal of the center pieces not only gives the harvester prime herb, a higher yield of roots, but it is no longer needed by the offshoots and I believe will actually stimulate them to grow well and establish themselves as new “Parents” or central nodes for more runners or shoots. It is more in harmony with its natural growth patterns, ( and ours,) as it reminds one of the child leaving home, becoming independent and getting well rooted on its own, then becoming a parent, (Hub) itself as it sends out more of its own shoots to root and grow.

However you approach and engage plants, it is always a relationship. The only choice we have is what kind of relationship it is going to be. Though Nature seems passive and yielding to our choices, whether to her benefit or detriment, there is, I believe, a lot more going on in forest and woods than meets the eye. She is not as defenseless as we may think.

So, if you get whipped in the face or tripped unexpectedly by a branch for instance, consider them polite hints, by a gracious host, and at the very least,  stop, and be still for a moment, contemplate, your actions and choices,  and just Listen. 

Dan

Dan Riegler