Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dandelion Wine

I mentioned a while ago that I got this book and recommended it for everyone. One of the chapters inside is on foraging off the land. The book has several suggestions for what you can do with dandelions. I had no idea that the plant was so useful! From roasted roots to make coffee, to the leaves for a salad, this plant is so versatile! I am going to try and use the flowers for dandelion wine! Not only is it fun and easy to make, but its almost free! Y'all know I love free!!!
I started off by picking about 3 and a half quarts of dandelion flowers. Then I sat out on the deck for hours (it was a beautiful, relaxing day!) and I took out the center of the flower. The books says that the more of the green you remove, the less bitter-tasting the wine will be. I don't like bitter, so I took the time and took off 99% of the green stuff. When I ended up doing more research online for other recipes and such, I saw that most people leave the green bottoms on. This process was pretty time-consuming, so next year I might leave the green on!

Dandelions are such a beautiful flower! Our yard is FULL of them! Its almost embarrassing, but whatever! We were told by our neighbor that the previous home-owner had turned over the entire yard three different times in the 10 years that they had lived in the home. Each time they tried different grass seed. Each time, the dandelions came back. Instead of trying to kill them, I guess we decided to live with them- and use them!

As you can see, I took the time and took off a majority of the green leaves and flower bottoms.

I then placed all of the flower pieces into a plastic bucket. RNH had previously used this bucket to make wine with scuppernong grapes last year. Unfortunately we put it in the garage with the grape juice in it last year and completely forgot about it until it was too late. We ended up having a really nasty smelling grape vinegar on our hands instead... Yuck! I am keeping the bucket in the kitchen this time so I will constantly be reminded that it is there every time I trip on it!

I then poured 2 gallons of boiling water over the petals and let it soak for three days. Because of my work schedule, the petals soaked for about 4 days, but I think it will be okay- especially since I took the greens off. If the greens had been on, I'm assuming the bitterness will really have seeped out.
After 3 (or 4!) days, I put the petals and water back on the stove and let it boil again. I stirred in a bunch of sugar, I think 3 or so cups? It was sweet to taste. Almost too sweet. I hope I didn't ruin it!

After the sugar was dissolved, I took the rinds of two oranges and two lemons and put them in to simmer along with the rest of the mixture for an hour. After the hour was up, I poured the mixture back into the plastic bucket. I had to monitor the liquid until it cooled to 70-75F degrees, which took about an hour or so. Once it had cooled to that temperature, I poured active yeast over a piece of bread and laid the bread on top of the mixture and covered the bucket with the lid.

That sat for three days (actually I think 4!). After this I took wine bottles and put several golden raisins in the bottom of each one. I then strained out the bread and fruit and poured the wine over the raisins into the bottles. I made 4 bottles of wine. On the top of each bottle, I placed a balloon with a tiny hole. This will allow the gases to escape out of the bottle, without letting a lot of air into the wine. I didn't take pictures of this.

The bottles are now sitting in my closet going through their processes. I check on them every once and again. Once the balloons are mostly deflated, I will strain the liquid through a cheese cloth and it will go back into the wine bottles with a balloon on top until the yeast finishes. I will have to do this about 3 or 4 times I think. (I'm not to that point just yet!) Once the balloons don't inflate any more, I will cork the bottles and leave them in a cool dark place for a year before I can taste it. I'm not sure I'll be able to wait that long...!!!

In the meantime, I made a Boston Creme pie from scratch. It was in a Hershey's recipe book. I was disappointed at first because it wasn't that great. The recipe says to let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. But who can resist tasting it right after its put together?!?! The next day, once the entire pie had cooled.... SHOOO-WEEE! I can't tell you how good this thing was! It looks pretty and tastes even better! YUM!


3 comments:

  1. I hope this batch tastes better than the first grape one!

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  2. I love dandelions-- they are such neat flowers! I think I'd plant them just to make the wine!!! Bet it will be delish. -sk

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  3. Me too Skinny!!!

    SK- I just wish they weren't considered a "weed..." then our yard would be beautiful! Haha!

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