Dandelion Wine for the DIYer with Weeds
I’m a big fan of DIY projects, especially if they’re a little unusual and double especially if they involve trying out foods that are tied into the natural world around us. So when life fills your front yard with dandelions, what better way to put them to use than to make dandelion wine? Now, this isn’t something that your kids can partake of when it’s done, but it’s certainly something they can help out with. I certainly don’t condone underage drinking and my kids have not, nor will they, be drinking this. They know better. This is more of a project for dad, mom, and the neighbors.
So, if you have dandelions, grab a gallon baggie and get to weeding the yard!
To make dandelion wine, you’ll need:
- 4 cups of dandelion blossoms from an area you know doesn’t get sprayed with pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals
- 1 gallon of water
- 8 cups of white sugar
- 1 orange, cut into slices
- 1 slice of lemon
- 1 .25-ounce package of active dry yeast
Thoroughly rinse the dandelion blossoms and pick out extra bits of leaves or blades of grass you might have picked up (or in my case my oldest might have picked up) when pulling the flowers. You’ll also want to take a look and make sure there aren’t any bugs in the flowers.
Bring the gallon of water to a boil and add the blossoms. Let them stand for four minutes. Remove and discard the blossoms (mine went into the composter) and let the water cool down to 90F. I used a mesh strainer to scoop the flowers and petals out of the water.
Once the water is cooled to 90F, stir in the sugar, orange slices, lemon, and yeast.
Pour all this into whatever you’re going to let it ferment in (in my case I used an old gallon wine jug) and add a fermentation lock. Make sure you sanitize the container before you pour the pre-wine into it. The lock lets the gasses that will build up escape and prevent bacteria from getting into your wine.
Take the container and put it away in a cool area. Let it ferment until the bubble stop. This should be about 10-14 days. It will give off a citrusy aroma as the dandelion wine ferments. My wine ended up being in the jug for 16 days before I took it out of the jug cause I’m a busy dad, dammit.
When your wine is ready, you’ll want to pour it through coffee filters into some other containers. I used wide-mouth mason jars and fitted the filter between the jar and the metal ring. It worked out really well, although I did end up having to go through a lot of coffee filters. Once bottled, I stored the wine in the fridge.
The first thing everyone asks me is how it tastes. It turns out, dandelion wine tastes like oranges and not like dandelions. I’m sure this is a good thing, as probably too many people wouldn’t want to drink a wine that tastes like bitter flowers.
I’ve shared some with a few people, had a glass here and there, and will bring a bottle here or there as it lasts. Of course, as the dandelions come back I’ll be looking to make another batch. I have no idea what the alcohol content of the dandelion wine is, but it is certainly stronger than I anticipated it would be.
The whole process can make for a good science experiment with your kids. You can explain to them what’s going on in the bottle during fermentation as the yeast consumes the sugars and turn that into alcohol in the fermentation process. They can watch, and take note, as the gasses build and bubbles shift in the fermentation vessel, keeping track of when it first speeds up and how long it takes to slow down. Then, when it’s done and bottled, and the kids are in bed. You can have a sip while sitting on the front porch as the breeze blows by, trying not to think of the sink overflowing with dishes or the mountain of laundry waiting for you in the basement.
If you are interested in other dad things, check out all our articles in Dad Things!