Fermentation: Dandelion Wine – Part 1

Dandelions were one of my first forays into the world of wild edibles. They seemed safe, comfortable, abundant and something I had a healthy dose of confidence in identifying. I’ve enjoyed their new leaves in salads, sautéed larger leaves in butter and salt (generally a good method for all bitter greens) and made lovely little fritters from the small flowers – the idea of creating Taraxacum officinale wine had never occurred to me. Luckily one day a year and a half ago my friend Paul said, (as we cracked open some of his homemade cider) “We should make dandelion wine – I have a carboy!” and although I had never drunk wine made from dandelions or known what a ‘carboy’ was, Lee and I said something along the lines of:

“Hells yes!”

DYK T. officinale turns into T. erythrospermum once it’s in the wish-blowing stage? 

Skip forward about a dozen missed dandelion seasons, due to lack of coordination, and here I am with a bucket of what looks like compost/grass clippings fermenting on the back porch. Here’s a quick over-view of the first part of the process.

1. Pick a million dandelion heads.

Watch out for little and large critters.
Be aware this will stain your hands for days.

Three bags later.

2. Set aside 2hrs of your life to pain-stakingly separate the flowers from the stems/leaves.

This took me the entire Ferris Bueller’s Day Off movie to do.

3. Find/collect the other materials needed for the wine – these items/ingredients vary by ‘recipe’.

I used organic lemons & oranges (juice, flesh and rinds) along with raisins and white-sugar-of-death, found a food grade 5 gallon bucket (sterilized it with boiling water and vinegar) and forgot to pick up yeast at the grocery store…

4. Make some rough measurements…

A LOT of sugar – about 5lbs

1lb raisins, 3 lemons, 2 oranges and about 18 cups Dandelion flowers

5. Throw it all together!

Top it off with a few gallons of boiling water.

6. Recess! (aka waiting for the temperature to go below 110C so that you have a more hospitable environment for the yeast to grow – this can take several hours, I went to bed)

7. Add yeast and watch it grow.

This was my first batch of yeast that I attempted in the morning – didn’t quite  work out…
Round two looking much better – ready to add to the bucket!

8. More waiting.

I put the bucket in a sunny spot on the porch to warm up with a cloth over the top to keep bugs out and let it bubble away – mix often and vigorously to catch some wild yeasts to help the fermentation along. 

Stay tuned for Part 2!


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