You can always tell when springtime rolls around, at least in our neck of the woods. Just look at my lawn. It will be sprinkled- and then covered- with the bright yellow blossoms of Dandelions.
Some people moan when they see these weeds in their yards. They run to their local garden center to find a herbicide. While other people pay Chem-Lawn(TM) or some other yard care company to spray the Dandelions and eradicate them.
Myself, I think they’re rather pretty. The birds like them, and they don’t bother me at all. In fact, when I see the first Dandelions of the season, I don’t think of “weeds”, I think if “wine” instead.
Homemade Dandelion Wine is a “kicky” beverage that’s been around for probably centuries. It’s not expensive to make. And, it doesn’t take any special equipment. Once you assemble all of the ingredients in the recipe, then you just let nature do its thing. The result will be a rather sweet, mellow wine that is light yellow in color.
The first and foremost ingredient in Dandelion Wine is, of course, Dandelions! You’ll need about three quarts of the blossoms. Here are some tips to help you find the best blossoms for the best-tasting wine:
1. Be sure you pick the Dandelions from an area that has not been sprayed with herbicides and other toxic chemicals.
2. Choose Dandelions that are fully developed. Avoid using shriveled up plants.
3. Don’t pick the entire plant. Just pluck the blossom off the top of the stem.
The next step is to gently rinse the Dandelion blossoms in cool tap water. Placing them in a sieve and rinsing them with a sprayer works well. While the flowers drain, dissolve one packet of dry yeast in a quarter cup of warm water. Set this mixture aside for now.
Place the washed Dandelion blossoms in a pan with six quarts of water. Stir in six cups of white sugar into the water until it’s completely dissolved. Place the pan on your stovetop over medium heat. Heat the mixture until it comes to a boil. Boil for five minutes, then remove the Dandelion/sugar/water mixture from the heat. Allow it to cool down until it’s warm before you proceed to the next step.
In the meantime, wash several pint or quart canning jars in soapy water. Rinse well, then dry them. You’ll need a lid and a seal for each jar as well.
Once the Dandelion blossom mixture has cooled down, strain and slightly squeeze it through a piece of cheese cloth into a pot or a crock. If you don’t have any cheese cloth, a pair of old pantyhose will work for a strainer. Just be sure they’re clean first. Discard the Dandelion blossoms; you’re done with them now.
Stir the dissolved yeast into the mixture; mix well. Cover the pot or crock with another piece of cheese cloth. Or, you can use a clean dish towel. Let it set undisturbed overnight.
Then, in the morning, stir the Dandelion mixture up. Use a funnel to fill the pint or quart canning jars up just to their necks. Wipe the necks of the jars clean. Finally, place a lid and a seal on each jar, and tighten the seals up.
Place your jars of Homemade Dandelion Wine in a cool, dark place. The wine will be fermented and ready to drink in about a month. It will have a slight kick to its sweet taste. However, the longer it sets, the stronger it will get. I saved a jar of Dandelion Wine for about a year until I opened it, and it packed a nice punch!