Spring is sprung! The birds are out, the geese are migrating, the peepers are singing, and dandelion’s are popping up in lawns and fields across the country. To celebrate, I’m sharing my super simple dandelion wine recipe with all you lovely people!
There’s a tradition in Appalachia in the Spring to go out and forage young spring greens such as burdock, purslane, lamb’s quarter and dandelion. Whether by design, or by accident, these young tender greens are often packed full of vitamins and nutrients and make excellent tonics after a long, cold Winter.
I’ve signed up to take Herbal Academy’s foraging course, and am in the middle of the Materia Medica course, so I’ve chosen to dive into learning about dandelion and all of it’s medicinal benefits. But nutritionally speaking, dandelion is packed full of Vitamins A & B, calcium, potassium, iron, and carotenoids. It’s been used for centuries as a liver, gallbladder and kidney detoxifier.
“Teas brewed from burdock root, dandelion, and red clover promote healing by cleansing the bloodstream and enhancing immune function.” says Dr Izharul Hasan in the (FREE) Encyclopedia of Home Remedies For Better Life.
After a long cold Winter, it provides a nutrient boost and detox solution to flush out all the stagnant stuff in your systems.
All parts of the dandelion are edible – the leaves can be added to salads, the roots dried and ground up to replace coffee, and the flowers can be battered and deep fried…but those recipes another day.
How to Make Dandelion Wine
Today we’re going to talk about my favorite dandelion recipe – dandelion wine. This recipe can be as simple or as complicated as you make it! I highly recommend taking the Herbal Academy’s Herbal Fermentation Course — it gives you an excellent foundational knowledge for home fermentation so you can have the confidence to brew an excellent batch, every time!
This recipe calls for 8 cups of dandelion flower heads. The green parts of the dandelion are bitter (just take a bite of a leaf!), but the yellow is not. However it is rumored that the green parts trap and add wild yeasts to your brew. If you want to try this recipe and ferment using only wild yeast, leave the green caps on. If you don’t want the bitter, but are lazy (ahem, me!) do half and half – half just petals, half with the greens still on.
Another variation on this recipe comes from Sandor Ellix Katz and “The Art of Fermentation” is to not boil the water, but let the flowers steep overnight. He says,
“With flowers, yeast can be helped by the addition of some acidity, such as a little bit of citrus juice, and some tannins from raisins. I typically use flowers raw to incorporate their yeasts, exactly as I use fruit; but some people boil them to extract flavors, or steep them in hot water. There are many methods.”
This recipe also calls for 6 cups of sugar. Don’t panic! The sugar isn’t for you, it’s to feed the yeasts bus that will do the fermentation for you and turn your dandelion “tea” into dandelion “wine” as a biproduct of eating the sugar up.
The raisins are totally optional – honestly, I usually skip them. As Mr. Katz said above, they’re supposed to add natural tannins to your brew, but I could honestly live without that.
To make Dandelion Wine, you start by making a flower tea. Once the tea has cooled enough, you add the yeast, juices, peels of your lemon and orange, and your sugar. Cover well with a dishcloth or an airlock and let the little yeasty buggers do their work for about two weeks. The first few days it will bubble madly and then start to slow down. You’ll know it’s done fermenting with the bubbling stops. It you take a whiff it should smell alcoholic.
Strain your wine with a fine sieve or cheesecloth – no one likes to *chew* while they drink wine – and bottle. Again, this can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. You can simply pour it into empty soda bottles, empty and cleaned wine bottles with a screw cap, or a wine bottle and cork it. Labels are optional
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|CourseDrink CuisineFermentation ServingsINGREDIENTS8 cups dandelion heads stems removed16 cups water1 lemon juice and peel1 orange juice and peel2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast brewers, wine, beer, or even bread yeast6 cups sugar1/2 cup raisins (optional)|
- Go out and pick roughly 8 cups of open, yellow dandelion blossoms. Try to leave as much of the green part behind as this can be pretty bitter. (Or, pick the whole thing and have dandelion salad tonight!)
- In a large soup pot, pour enough hot water over the blossoms to cover, bring the heat up to just before boiling and turn the heat off.
- When the water cools to less than 90 degrees, add the sugar, yeast, zest and juices from the lemons and oranges (and raisins if you’re using them.)
- Cover with a wash cloth or hand towel and put aside somewhere warm to ferment. It will take roughly 10-14 days depending on your yeast and the temperature in your house. You will know it’s ready when it stops bubbling.
- Strain the plant material out and without disturbing the bottom of the pot, scoop out or siphon off your wine into food grade plastic bottles or wine bottles
- Let mature for roughly 6 months in a cool, dark place.