Odds are, you have dandelions in the spring. We do. Not an entire field of yellow like some yards are, but in the back, there are enough. Enough, of course, that I decided to turn them into something useful: dandelion wine.
I don’t know the first thing about making wine, as we barely even drink the stuff, but I like to learn new things and we’re always up for a challenge (cue S rolling her eyes…). Basic fermentation, got that, and while making apple peel vinegar, I did learn a bit (yeast create alcohol first, then those yeast eventually commit suicide by making their environment inhospitable by producing too much alcohol, so new little bugs jump in and turn the alcohol into vinegar, or something like that). But wine to drink? Nope.
It’s actually a fairly basic process (not surprising, if they’ve been doing it for millenia – the Romans were advanced, but I don’t think they had giant stainless steel vats and the rest). I roughly based what I was doing on multiple sources, particularly these two sources.
Step 1: Gather a lot of dandelions (I had about a gallon). Flowers only. This was one task where C excelled. Remove the stems, and as much of the green as possible (you don’t want that bitter white juice in there). Find a good movie or game on TV while you’re prepping the petals; it’s not the quickest process.
Step 2: Put the petals into a big glass or stainless steel container, cover with about a gallon or two of boiling water, then let this mixture sit for a couple days.
Step 3: Strain that mixture, saving the juice. Add the zest and juice from four lemons and four oranges (the citrus adds something to the final product, but don’t ask me what; like I said, I have no idea). Add 3-4 cups of sugar, and a couple tablespoons of yeast.
Step 4: Cover this mess (to keep bugs out) and let it sit for at least a couple weeks, maybe longer, stirring daily if you remember. When most activity stops (hold your ear close; if it sounds like it’s fizzing, it’s still active), you can strain again and bottle. At this point, I bought a small carboy to finish it, and let the sediment settle before bottling. If you want to get fancy and feel like you kind of know what you’re doing, you can buy some flexible tubing ($6 at a hardware store) to siphon it. That really made me feel like a pro.
Step 5: After bottling, let it age, most people say for at least six months, or a year. I guess it gets better with time.
I ended up with a bit more than I thought I would (five bottles), so it had better taste like liquid sunshine, or I surely won’t make it through all five bottles. Like I said, we’re not exactly wine connoisseurs, and I prefer my wine to taste like grape juice, so we’ll see how it goes. If nothing else, I learned something!