Do you have a ton of dandelions around the start of spring? Some people look at them as a weed, but did you know that you can actually use them to make many delicious items?
Before you turn your nose up, hear me out for a second.
You can make dandelion jelly, dandelion cookies, and the topic we are going to discuss, making wine from dandelions. So whether you are a wine drinker or not, you may want to keep this recipe in your hip pocket. It could make a great gift and also you might want to try to cook with it too.
Here are two methods for putting your dandelions to work and turning them into wine:
Method #1: The Faster Way
- 1 package of brewing yeast
- ¼ cup warm water
- 2 quarts of whole dandelions
- 4 quarts of water
- 1 cup of OJ
- 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons of lime juice
- 3 tablespoons orange zest
- ½ teaspoon of ginger (fresh or powdered)
- 6 cups of sugar
- 1 coffee filter
- Wine bottles
- A deflated balloon for each bottle
1. Pick Your Dandelions
You will start this process by picking your dandelions. They are most prominent in April and May for the picking.
However, you need to know that what part of the dandelion you pick for use will determine the taste of your wine. If you use only the blossoms, then the wine should have a sweeter taste. If you use the whole dandelion (including the green parts) it will make it have a much more bitter taste.
So keep this in mind as you pick your flowers for use.
2. Give Your Dandelions a Bath
Next, you’ll need to place your dandelions in a colander and run cool water over them. Think of it as though you are washing fresh fruits and vegetables. You’ll want to remove any dirt, any bad parts of the flowers, and try to remove any bugs as well.
Obviously, washing is a vital step that you won’t want to skip so you don’t end up with unwanted ingredients in your wine.
3. Soak Your Flowers
After your flowers are all clean, you’ll want to soak them in water for two days. Just place them in a bowl or pot with the cold water. It doesn’t matter if they are covered or not. Just place them somewhere out of the way so they don’t get knocked over during those two days.
4. Put the Blossoms to Work
Now that your blossoms have soaked for two days it is time to put them to work. You’ll begin by putting the blossoms in a clean pan.
Next, you’ll pour 4 quarts of water over the dandelions. Then you’ll add your juices. That is the lime juice, orange juice, and lemon juice.
5. Add the Good Stuff and Start the Infusion Process
So your dandelions are soaking in all of those delicious juices, but they aren’t done yet. You’ll need to add ginger to the mixture too. You can use fresh ginger or powdered ginger. It is basically about what you have on hand and what works for your budget. I usually have powdered ginger on hand most of the time.
Then you’ll need to add cloves, orange peels, lemon peels, and sugar. Once you’ve added all of the ingredients to your flowers it is time to bring this pot to a boil. You’ll want to continue boiling the flowers and the mixture for about an hour.
This process is called infusion. This is what your wine will be and taste like so it is a pretty important step in the process.
6. Drain the Infusion Material
After the infusion process has taken place, you’ll want to strain the mixture through the coffee filters. You might be able to use a really fine cheesecloth for this step, if you think it would make straining easier.
If not, I would just line a small strainer with a coffee filter and funnel it through that way. Once this step is complete you’ll need to let the newly strained mixture cool.
7. Add the Magic Powder
Yeast isn’t really called magic powder, but it should be. It has a way of making basic ingredients transform.
In this case, we are transforming boiled flowers and spices into wine. You’ll need to potentially use a candy thermometer for this step because it is important to know when the mixture has reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Once it has, add the yeast to the mixture.
8. Give It a Rest
If you are familiar with bread making, you know after you add the yeast and knead the dough you let the mixture rest.
Well, this is no different. You don’t have to knead wine obviously, but once you add the yeast you cover it with a cheesecloth or small towel and let it sit overnight.
9. Almost Ready to Put a Lid On It
After your wine mixture has rested it is time to put it in bottles. You’ll need to place a balloon over the top of the bottles. This will allow the mixture to ferment without allowing any wild yeast into your mixture.
10. Let the Wine Rest in Darkness
So your wine mixture is in bottles with no lids. Now what?
Well, you’ll need to place the bottles in a dark location for three weeks and allow fermentation to take place. This is when you will actually get wine out of this process.
11. Rack Your Wine
This last step is optional, but if you like clear wine then you’ll probably want to do it. After your bottles have finished fermenting, you’ll want to strain the mixture from one bottle into another clean bottle. This will help get any sediment out of the wine. This process is called racking. Do this until you get the clean, clear wine that your taste desires.
Method #2: Low and Slow
The same recipe can be used for this method as the one listed above. You’ll just need:
1. Collect the Flowers
You are going to start this method the same as you did the last, by picking flowers. Again remember, the blossoms will give your wine a sweeter taste. If you include the whole flower (including the green) it will give the wine a more bitter taste. It is all about your preference.
Be sure to clean your flowers for sanitary purposes. You don’t want any ‘unwanted natural ingredients’ getting into your wine.
2. Boil Water
Next, you’ll need to bring a pot of water to a boil. This recipe is a little less detailed so you’ll have to eyeball how many dandelions you picked to know how much water to pour over them.
If you are unsure of measurements in this recipe, borrow the same amounts from the previous method. After the water has boiled, pour it over the dandelions that should’ve been placed into a large pot or crock.
Let the water and dandelions sit for three days inside the pot or crock.
3. Add Zest
Now that three days have passed, you’ll want to zest the oranges and lemons. Remember that zest usually adds a bitter taste to any recipe. So keep that in mind as you are adding zest to your recipe.
4. Boil the Flower Mixture
After you’ve zested your lemons and oranges, you’ll want to add that to the flower mixture. Then you’ll want to put that flower mixture in a pot so you can bring the whole thing to a boil.
After the mixture has been brought to a boil, you’ll want to remove it from the heat. Then you’ll strain the mixture.
Next, you’ll need to add sugar to the liquid you just strained. Stir the sugar into the liquid until it has dissolved completely. Then let it cool.
6. Add the Good Stuff
Now it is time to add the orange and lemon slices. Again, use your judgment as to how much you think would suit your taste.
But the interesting part to this method is that it calls for raisins. So you’ll want to add those during this step as well. I’m a huge raisin fan so this really caught my eye.
After you have added all of the delicious ingredients, you’ll want to put the mixture back into a crock and cover with a towel or cheesecloth.
Then you’ll need to allow it to ferment. A good way to know that the mixture has finished fermenting is when it stops bubbling.
After the fermentation is done you’ll need to strain the mixture and place in bottles. Place a deflated balloon over the top of the bottles. If the balloon doesn’t inflate over a 24 hour period then you know that fermentation is completely finished.
The last step to making wine with this method is to cork the wine and store it in a cold and dark place for about 6 months.
After that, it is ready to be gifted or enjoyed. It is up to you. A word of caution with the corking and storage process, though. Make sure fermentation is completely finished before corking the bottles. Also, do not store in a warm location either. Either or both of these mistakes could cause your bottles to become small explosives.
So now that you know two methods of making dandelion wine, you are ready for most any occasion. This would be something unique to pull out for a family gathering. It also would make great house warming gifts. Or a great addition inside gift baskets for the holidays.
But I want to hear from you. Have you ever made dandelion wine? How do you make it? Do you make any other unique beverages that people around you enjoy? Would you mind sharing with us what you make and how you make it? I’m sure our community would love to hear your ideas!