Ever since I read "Dandelion Wine" by Ray Bradbury long ago, I've been intrigued by the novelty of making wine out of dandelions. Would it taste like summer? Like liquid sunshine? I had forgotten about it until I dined at Creekside Grille - Wilson Creek Winery - Temecula. While reading about the beginnings of the winery, the brochure mentioned that Rosie Wilson, the family matriarch, used to make dandelion and rhubarb wine when they lived in Minnesota. I asked her if she still made dandelion wine. She chuckled and said, "No."
Intrigued nonetheless, after I got back, I Googled for some recipes. Many of which called for a gallon of dandelion petals. A gallon! I don't know where to go for a gallon of dandelions. So I went into the backyard (not the front, which was at the mercy of stray dogs doing their business on my lawn) and gathered a handful of dandelion petals. I plucked the yellow petals, being careful to pick out the green parts. Saved them into a little container in the freezer. Instead of pulling weeds, I cultivated the dandelions that grew in my yard. A flower here and there, maybe a half dozen plucked on a lucky day. For six months, I kept saving and saving until I had a quart of dandelion petals.
After steeping the petals, adding lemon juice and peels, yeast, sugar, and chardonnay, I had the beginnings of dandelion wine. A few weeks of fermentation later, the wine was poured into bottles and left in the back of the pantry to age. Every few months, I'd periodically rack the wine -- pouring it into a fresh bottle and leaving the yeasty residue behind. At six months fermentation I tasted a bit. Nope. At nine months, I uncorked it for my annual holiday party and it tasted slightly grassy, slightly sweet, very reminiscent of the bottle of dandelion wine from Hidden Legend Winery in Victor, Montana that I ordered as a taste comparison. Tasted again at the 10 month mark, chilled in the fridge, and the dandelion wine was even sweeter, pretty close to a moscato, which is my favorite wine.
Making dandelion wine wasn't difficult at all. It just required a lot of patience.
Adapted from About.com's Dandelion Wine recipe.
For about 2 bottles of dandelion wine, you'll need:
4 cups dandelion petals
4 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 large lemons, juiced and skins peeled
1 cup white wine
1 tsp yeast
2 tblsp honey
Obviously, you'll want organic dandelions that haven't been sprayed. Pick dandelions at peak bloom in the afternoon. Carefully pluck the yellow petals, discarding as much of the green parts as you can. You can save the petals in a plastic bag or container in the freezer until you have enough.
Six months later.
I had 4 cups of dandelion petals.
In a large non-reactive pot such as stainless steel, boil 4 cups water. Put the dandelion petals in a non-reactive bowl such as stainless steel as well. Pour half of the boiling water over the dandelion petals and let steep for two hours. Don't wait too long or the water will go from bright yellow to brown, which is what happened when I forgot about it. I managed to salvage the batch by rinsing the petals and steeping them again, but this time for only an hour since the petals had already been boiled.
With the two cups of hot water remaining in the pot, add 2 cups sugar and the juice and peels of 2 lemons. The lemon juice will keep the color from turning brown. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Set aside.
After several hours, strain the dandelion petal water into the pot, discarding the petals.
Then add 1 cup white wine (I used chardonnay.), 1 tsp yeast, and 2 tblsps honey.
Cover with several kitchen towels and store in a cool, dry place to ferment for a week, stirring the mixture every day or so.
You can see the yeast is already starting the fermentation.
After three days, the peels are starting to brown and you can smell the fermentation. Cover and let the mixture continue to ferment.
After one week, the peels were almost completely brown and I was afraid the batch would spoil, so I decided to strain out the peels.
Put a strainer over a funnel and pour the mixture into a sanitized gallon jug.
The only special fermentation equipment you'll need is a balloon with single pin prick to let gases out. Keep the bottle in a cool, dry place for a month. This was right after I put the balloon over the jug.
As the gases release, the balloon will puff up. After about a month, when the balloon deflates, then it'll be time to pour off the wine into bottles.
Using a paper towel over the strainer over the funnel again, pour the wine into bottles. I used sparkling juice bottles, which had screw caps so that they'd be corked properly. You'll get a little over two bottles. But you'll want to rack the wine -- pouring off the wine into a fresh bottle and leaving the yeasty residue behind every few months. So in the end, you'll have about two bottles of clear wine.
Stored in a cool, dry place, the dandelion wine will be ready for drinking in about nine months to a year.
Very slightly grassy, slightly sweet white wine.
Homemade dandelion wine does taste like liquid sunshine and summer in a glass if I do say so myself.
This recipe for dandelion took more than a year in the making, if I counted the six months it took me to gather enough dandelion petals. I thought it apropros for a post for the new year. I hope that the new year, like the dandelion wine, brings to fruition things that you've long anticipated.
Happy New Year dear readers!
1 year ago today,
2 years ago today, Potbelly Sandwich Shop (SW 6th Ave.) - Portland - Oregon.
3 years ago today, Banh Bot Khoai Mon Chien Xao Cai Xoan (Vietnamese Fried Taro Rice Cake Stir-Fried with Kale).
4 years ago today, Capital Seafood Chinese Restaurant (Dim Sum) - Monterey Park.
5 years ago today, Canh O/Kho Qua Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup).
6 years ago today, Pearl Chinese Cuisine (Wedding Banquet) - San Diego.
7 years ago today, Tasty - San Gabriel.
8 years ago today, people exercising around Ho Hoan Kiem (Returned Sword Lake) in Hanoi, Vietnam.