dandelion wine

well actually mead.  i vowed never to make dandelion mead after the first time i made it.  it’s a total pain to make, and is it really worth it?  after opening the last bottle from a batch made about 3 years ago i can say yes.  though not necessarily because of the taste, which is fine, but mostly for the ritual, and my connection to the bees.

dandelions are the first major nectar crop for the bees, and so i love to see them – little golden disks of bee food, making the ladies happy as can bee.  so i take great joy in seeing dandelions even if most folks curse them.  and what could be a better tribute to them and spring than being able to open a bottle of libation made from honey they made and infused with flower petals collected from the source of their honey?  i enjoy these little rituals that connect me more fully to the seasons and all the activity going on.

a bee on a dandelion

for dandelion wine or mead you need 3 cups of freshly harvested dandelion flower petals.   that’s right just the petals not the stem or the little green part that the petal attach to – just the yellow petals.  when i first read the recipe i had from a wine making book, i didn’t notice that it said petals , only that it called for 3 cups of flowers.  reading more closely i realised you needed to remove each and every petal from the stem.  what a bunch of work.  but i complied.

picking petals off of the flowers

i’d guess that to get the three cups of petals takes about an hour of picking.  that’s for one gallon.  5 bottles of mead.  only you can decide if it’s worth it, but sitting out in the sunshine, out in the spring weather on a day off, certainly seemed worth it to me.  to make the situation a little more enjoyable ma and i cracked the last of the bottle of dandelion mead from 3 years ago.  i thought we were all out but closer inspection revealed one more tucked away.

mead, glass and flowers

with all the petals now removed, i can safely stuff them in  a sanitized one gallon jug and then rack some straight unflavored mead over the petals.  for those not in the know, racking is the brewing term for siphoning.  one of theses days i’m going to do an entire step by step mead making post, but for now you will just have to piece it together like everyone else.

racking over the petals

once you rack the mead over the petals you need to slap an airlock on it.  the airlock makes it so that air can escape from the fermenting jug, but won’t let new air in.  be aware that most mead makers would likely pour boiling water over the petals to sanitize them before adding them to the jug.  putting those petals into the mead without doing so risks adding bacteria or wild yeast.  i say so what, lets see what happens maybe it will be great, maybe it will be lousy, but it’s only one gallon i’ll be losing if it doesn’t work.  pouring boiling water over them would get rid of many of the delicate flavors we so want to capture.

mead racked over petals with airlock

in addition to this i added a cut up sour orange from one of our trees we have growing inside.  i had read that dandelion wines usually have some lemon juice added to them for balance, so i figure the juice from the orange will help in the balance department and the rind will add some orange floral flavor.  i think it’s gonna be great.

how long you leave the petals on the mead is up to you, but i’m planning on about a month.

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16 responses to “dandelion wine

  1. I second your assessment that shucking dandelions is a pain, and I still withhold judgment on whether or not it’s worth it. We made a batch of dandelion wine (with a store-bought orange) and couldn’t finish 1 beer bottle’s worth. Perhaps it just needed a few years…

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  3. I have a recipe from an my Aunt Fannie that’s very old.! I used the recipe for the New Years Eve celebration many years ago and haven’t made it since. Maybe I’ll try this one, it looks like fun…Ginny

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  7. how long do you let it sit?

  8. A life-long dream, I’ve made dandelion wine two years in a row now. I did not separate the green cup from the petals either time. The second year I added a lemon to the must. Both years vintage came out fine, the second year much sweeter and most people liked it better. Takes me about 3 hours to pick 3 cups here in my yard. Still have a couple bottles left so I’m giving the little yellow flowers this year off. Unless I decide to try those muffins, that is.

  9. My Italian Great Grandpa and Great Uncles used to make this. We’d hear stories about them making this in the basement (they did call it dandelion wine) and their wives clucking in, what I believe was teasing disapproval. They did it every single year. It was a ritual for them and once they passed, no one knew how to make it because the ladies never let the kids learn! So, thanks. Maybe we’ll revive an old family heirloom yet.

  10. Weird question…can you use frozen dandelion petals for the dandelion wine? I have been freezing mine after I separate the petals so that I have a supply for when the dandelion are not around.

  11. Hi Patrick. The dandelions are poking their heads up out of the ground here in Georgia and people are starting to talk about Dandelion wine. I was just wondering if you would mind if I use some of your pictures? I would be glad to give you credit.

    We are working very hard to share information and help educate people who are interested in learning more about making mead, cider, wine and beer. The most difficulty we are having is in finding good photos. We make a good bit of just about everything, but often the photos don’t turn out as well as we would like.

    • as long as you provide credit and a link, i’m fine with that. looking forward to the dandelions popping up here, but that will be some time yet

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