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I've wanted to make dandelion wine for, oh... six years now.  And guess what?  Today, I made dandelion wine!

Sure, it won't be drinkable for months, but I'm excited!  And since dandelions are blooming everywhere right about now, it's the perfect time to do some wild foraging and harvest your own bottle of wine.

Here's two sets of measurements, first for the commitment-phobes and second for the tedium-lovers. 
You will need: 
(yields 1 quart)
~ 4 cups dandelion petals
~ 4 cups water
~ 1 orange (organic!)
~ 1 lemon (organic!)
~ 1 pound of sugar
~ piece of stale bread
~ pinch of dry bread yeast


OR


(yields 1 gallon)
~ 16 cups dandelion petals
~ 1 gallon water
~ 4 oranges (organic!)
~ 4 lemons (organic!)
~ 4 pounds of sugar
~ piece of stale bread
~ pinch of dry bread yeast
I chose the quart-version because 1) I've never had dandelion wine and wasn't sure if I'd like it enough to drink a gallon, and 2) 16 cups of dandelion petals is a lot to pick by hand - hence the 'tedium-lovers' comment.  On the flip side, if I love the wine I'll wish I made more.  Your call! 

Okay folks, get excited!  Because this first step is going to take some enthusiasm.

First, harvest your dandelion flowers.  Choose a day when you have a large block of time free in the morning and afternoon - you want to do this all in one go, so the flowers don't wilt (refrigerate them if you must take breaks, but finish within the day).  Harvest the flowers in the mid-morning, when they've just opened.  You want to go for young dandelion blooms that are just starting to open, but when in doubt go for quantity.

Second, remove the green bits (sepal & calyx, to be precise).  You don't have to do this, as it is an incredibly tedious task, but your wine will be more bitter if you leave the greenery on.  Some winemakers do say the greens lend dandelion wine a certain 'je ne sais quoi'... do as you like. 
If you decide to use only petals, use a knife to slice off the base of the calyx (the big, tubular part that holds the petals) and peel the rest off, letting the petals fall into your bowl.  If you use your nails, they will stain brown - fair warning.
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So many dandelion petals! I dreamed of dissecting dandelions that night.
Place the dandelion flowers in a large bowl and pour boiling water over top - 1:1 ratio, flowers to water. 

Cover loosely, to keep dust & bugs out, and let this dandelion tea steep for 24-48 hours.
Once your tea has steeped (not more than 48 hours!), strain out the flowers.  Press the them to get all the liquids out, then compost the dandelions - back to earth!
Next, grate your citrus zest.  Please choose organic fruit for this, since you'll infuse their peels directly into the wine - we don't want no pesti-wine! 
Juice your lemon & orange!  I find a hand juicer especially helpful for this step.  Strain out the seeds & pulp if you like, but either way you'll strain everything before bottling the wine.
Next, measure out your sugar!  I bought mine from the bulk section, and I recommend you do the same - I was able to buy exactly as much as I needed.  If your diet doesn't allow for cane sugar, you may be able to substitute honey or agave nectar.  The amount needed may be different, but give it a shot!
Mix the dandelion tea, citrus, and sugar together in a large glass or ceramic container.  I used two glass jars, because I don't have a bowl large enough, but a bowl is suggested.

** Optional (maybe)Heat the mixture on low, stirring frequently until the sugar dissolves.  I didn't do this, as my source recipe didn't mention it, but I've seen similar recipes that say to heat.  Dissolving the sugar this way may make fermentation easier - after several days my non-heated brew seems to be bubbling a bit, but I'd be interested to try it both ways.
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Ooooh...
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aaaah...
Finally, the coolest step:  Float a piece of stale bread on top your brew, then sprinkle some dry yeast over top.  Apparently this is a traditional technique from Europe & Appalachia, and it helps the fermentation get going.
Store your dandelion brew with cloth secured over the opening - this lets the mix breathe and keeps floating junk out of your soon-to-be wine!
Stir your fermenting wine several times a day, and let it do its thing for about two weeks.  Mine took just under a week to start visibly fermenting:
After two-ish weeks, you'll start to notice it is less 'active'.  Most of the sugar sediment had been absorbed (I didn't boil mine to dissolve it), and the bubbling had slowed noticeably.  The jars had a pleasantly alcoholic, citrusy scent. 

When this happens, it's time to bottle!  You'll need sterilized bottles, a funnel, and a strainer.  Oh, and fermented dandelion tea - you'll need that too!
Strain the solids out, and funnel the dandelion wine into (very) clean bottles.
See how beautifully yellow the wine is!

Securely cap the bottles and then put 'em away for a few months - at least three, so your dandelion wine can age to delicious perfection!  And I mean it when I say securely cap - one loose cork explosively popped off, just a few hours after bottling!

I'll update this post in the fall, when my wine is ready to drink - 'til then, get out and get those dandelions!

I found this recipe via Nancy Klehm's post on Root Simple - many thanks to her & her expertise!

Have you ever tried dandelion wine?  Have you ever made it before?  Do you have a different recipe to share?

You might like:
~ Wild Forage: Dandelion
~ Kombucha - Brew Your Own 'Booch
~ Herbal Sleep Aid Tea
~ Mental Health: Taking Care of the Basics

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Comments

04/25/2012 7:09pm

Dandelions! We have a plethora right now and have been doing frequent green smoothies with the leaves... And recently made some delicioso fritters with the petals. Wine sounds fantastic. My partner got all fired up this week to make wine once tthe Japanese knot weed started coming in ... I think we need to add dandelion wine to the wine list plans. Great site btw :) just found ya.

Reply
04/25/2012 7:38pm

What a great tutorial. I love the pictures. I hope your wine turns out to be fantastic. I am looking forward to reading about it.

Heidi

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04/26/2012 10:52am

Found you on Simple Lives Thursday this morning! I shared my review of Dandelion Blossom tea, and was so excited to find your recipe. Let us know how it tastes...

Okay, now I'm subscribing via RSS:)

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04/28/2012 11:40am

Hey there! I'm Amber from Swamp Pixie Herbal blog. Thanks for saying howdy...meant to give all you folks I linked to a comment but you beat me to it. <3

Your images are great, and I really appreciate that you put a smaller than one gallon recipe available - I don't have enough flowers to do a whole gallon right now!

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Anna @ Patchwork Radicals
04/29/2012 8:48pm

That was exactly my reasoning for going less than a gallon - I didn't have that many flowers!

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Erica
04/30/2012 10:00pm

I've wanted to do this every since I read this book as a child!

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Johanna
05/05/2012 8:53pm

You can do this with fresh yeast, to.
Toast the bread and allow to cool, then spread the yeast on the toast before you float in in the liquid.
A fungal way, as you can get fresh yeast from the bakery dept of the supermarket free of charge

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05/11/2012 3:18am

Oh how inspiring your dandelion post is! As you know our logo is the dandelion and I have always had a love for it! I am also rather partial to a good glass of wine and so am thinking I may well give this great recipe a go.Thank you very much for sharing this with us on Seasonal Celebration Sunday! Rebecca @ Natural Mothers Network x

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10/01/2013 1:23am

I'll update this post in the fall, when my wine is ready to drink - 'til then, get out and get those dandelions!

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05/16/2012 1:33pm

Hi! Great post. Linked to it in my Dandelion Round-up today!
http://texifornia.blogspot.com/2012/05/friday-file-round-up-dandelions.html

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Anna @ Patchwork Radicals
05/16/2012 7:38pm

Hi Gale ~ Thanks for linking up! I love themed roundups. :)

Reply
06/13/2012 3:31am

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07/17/2012 7:43am

Thanks for sharing this recipe, I have never thought that can be made a wine from dandelion. This must be interesting flavor

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Tom
10/05/2012 1:40am

I was given a 15 year old bottle of Dandelion Wine a few years back, and didn't open it until about 5 years after that.
I must say that it was so smooth, and very good. I have wanted to make some myself, but had no recipe.
Now I will be making my own.
Thanks for this ppost!

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12/02/2012 6:39am

very good and detailed articles.

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05/15/2013 4:55pm

I believe I will be trying your recipe when I make my dandelion wine. Thank you & I will also be blogging my experience. Thanks again!

Reply
06/08/2013 5:32am

Your website is amazing and one of my own ought to study blogs. I basically want to say thanks.

Reply
07/19/2013 7:54pm

What a great tutorial. I love the pictures. I hope your wine turns out to be fantastic. I am looking forward to reading about it.

Really looking forward to get more information.

Thanks for that blog

Reply
09/11/2013 9:02pm

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09/13/2013 10:12am

Positive, it won't be drinkable for many weeks, yet I am just thrilled!

Reply
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