One of my favorite photographers and an Eat Boutique contributor, Jill Chen, comes out from behind the camera to share the steps in making this beautiful recipe, courtesy of blogger/author/friend, Georgia Pellegrini. Thanks, Jill and Georgia! -Maggie
I woke up a few days ago to a front lawn full of yellow dandelions. It wasn’t planned on my part, but after reading Georgia Pellegrini’s post on making dandelion wine, I was inspired to act quickly… stalking my neighborhood for fresh untouched patches of the dreaded yellow weed.
Pick from young plants and newly opened blooms, away from sprayed areas or where dogs frequent.
I found it helpful to first spread buds out on the table for any ants or bugs to escape. Rinse well, trimming green ends off (optional).
Throw all the dandelion petals into a large pot. Now add the juice and coarsely chopped rind of one whole lemon and orange.
Add water, and bring to a boil for a few minutes.
Remove from heat and cover, letting it steep on the counter for 24-48 hrs.
After the steeping stage, add the sugar and activated yeast (I used Champagne yeast). Give it a good stir.
I am lucky to live near a wine-making supply store where I purchased a 2 gallon glass carboy for fermenting, cap, champagne yeast and airlock. Suddenly, I’m dreaming about growing my own grapes and having a little “garage winery.”
Using a large funnel and colander, scoop the mixture into the jug, straining everything out. You need to create an airlock, so that the CO2 can escape as it ferments, but bad yeast doesn’t get in.
This is an airlock, which was a few dollars from the wine-making supply store. Vodka (alcohol, not water) is added to create the barrier. It will bubble and allow gas out, but nothing gets in. My jug is happily gurgling and bubbling away in the basement. I’m tempted to pick more dandelions to store in the freezer. Just in case this turns out amazing, I won’t have to wait till spring to make it again. It will be Christmas when we have our first tasting. I look forward to wearing flowers in my hair and sipping a little bit of sunshine.
“Dandelion Wine” via Georgia Pellegrini
- 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 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 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 let cool and sit 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 jug with a funnel and fit the funnel with a small fine 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. Add the cloves and ginger and put on airlock on. This can be done by using a deflated balloon and poking holes into the latex, then fastening the balloon around the neck of the jug. Or you could also use plastic. Shake well and let it rest for one week in a cool dark place as the fermentation begins.
6. Strain the liquid again into bottles using the funnel again. Allow the uncorked bottles to sit in a dark cool place for 3 to 6 weeks. Then cork the bottles, or use bottles with screw on tops, and store them in a cool place for at least 2 months and up to a year. This kind of wine is best consumed while it is young.
Notes from Georgia:
Note #1: Some recipes call for just petals not whole buds. My friend Ron, the mastermind behind Herb Farm informed me that 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.
Note #2: Pick dandelions from an open field 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.