I read Dandelion Wine as a kid, 1957 novel by Ray Bradbury. It takes place in the summer of 1928 in the fictional town of Green Town, Illinois. The title refers to a wine made with dandelion petals and other ingredients, commonly citrus fruit. Dandelion wine is made by the protagonist’s grandfather, and serves as a metaphor for packing all of the joys of summer into a single bottle.
If you’re a boomer you might remember the song ‘Dandelion Wine‘ by the Hollies: Stoned all the time on dandelion wine / What else can I do/I’ve been this way every day/now that we’re through. http://www.metrolyrics.com/dandelion-wine-lyrics-hollies.html. The Stones also have a song called Dandelion.
The Dandelion is a large genus of flowering plants, Taraxacum in the Asteraceae family. They are native to Eurasia and North America, but the two commonplace species worldwide, T. officinale and T. erythrospermum, were imports from Europe that now propagate as wildflowers. Both species are entirely edible. The common name dandelion comes from French dent-de-lion, meaning “lion’s tooth.” Like other members of the Asteraceae family, they have very small flowers collected together into a composite flower head. Each single them. Seeds can be produced without pollination, resulting in offspring that are genetically identical to the parent plant. They can also be used to make Dandelion wine.
There are many recipes for dandelion wine. We’ve supplied one below. A lot of old recipes use lemons and lime, which is fine. But don’t forget the other acids that are in wine and are just as important, malic and tartaric. Old recipes also often call for bread yeast. Please don’t do that. These recipes exist because many ingredients were not readily available and one had to use what was available. Bread yeast does not settle out well and has a low tolerance for alcohol. A good wine yeast will vastly improve the end product.
Dandelions should be picked in full sun. It’s pretty labor intensive, so get your kids to pick them. Then you should trim the green parts off. Cutting the heads off with a scissor works well. Below is a recipe for 1 gallon of dandelion wine based on a Winemakers Recipe handbook.
Dandelions 7 cups of petals
White grape concentrate ½ pint
Hot water 1 gallon
Sugar 2 lbs.
Acid blend 3 tsp
Yeast nutrient 1 tsp
Yeast energizer ½ tsp
Campden tablet, crushed 1
Wine yeast 1
Wash and drain trimmed petals. Put dandelions in straining bag and tie off. Put in a fermenting bucket, pour in sugar and hot water. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add all other ingredients EXCEPT for the yeast. Wait 24 hours and pitch the yeast. Cover, put in the air lock. Keep about 70°. After 3 or 4 days remove bag of petal, and lightly strain. Ferment until the specific gravity is 1.000 or less. Transfer into 1 gallon glass jug. Bottle when clear. If you want to try back sweetening the wine a little residual sugar may improve the flavor.
Blow away Dandelion.