Turn your weeds into wine!
Most People look out at the yard and see a bunch of weeds ruining their yard. I look out and see a bountiful harvest waiting to be picked and made into wine. The best part is I don’t have to plant the harvest. Mother Nature provides it for me.
People often ask me, how in the world did you start making dandelion wine? I am a huge fan of being able to eat and make gourmet treats out of things that grow in nature. Wild Berry Jam is one of my favorites. I knew Dandelions were edible, but had no idea what to do with them. So I began researching ideas. The wine looked simple enough to make, so I gave it a try. It ended up being the most delicious wine I have ever had and my husband reminds me every year that he wants to make more!
It’s cheap and easy to make. I like my wine dry so I add only 2 1/2 pounds of sugar per carboy. But you can always double the sugar for a sweeter wine or back sweeten it before bottling. You can always add sugar but you can’t take it out. So if you like a drier wine start with only enough sugar to ferment out the yeast!
2 gallon size ziplock bags full of dandelion flower heads (you can freeze them until you are ready to use )
Fresh ginger root
24 oz. honey
1 box golden raisins
1 bottle of organic white grape juice
5 pounds white sugar
2 packets of yeast (you can use regular yeast from the grocery store or buy champagne yeast at the brew shop. I have used both and the wine came out great either way)
6 gallons of water
Large bucket or crock (5 gallon size)
Large lobster pot
2 five gallon plastic carboy
Two rubber stoppers with air lock seals
wine bottles or empty beer bottles
corks or tin bottle caps
You will need either a capper or corker depending on the bottles used
Plastic food grade siphon tube
**Campden tablets, yeast and bottling equipment can be purchased at A brew store**
1) Collect the blossoms when they are fully open on a sunny day. Be sure to harvest from an area that is not treated with pesticides or fertilizing chemicals.
2) Bring the water to a boil and pour it over the flowers in your 5 gallon bucket or crock. Cover and let steep for three days.
3) Strain out as many of the blossoms as you can and pour the “tea” into your lobster pot on the stove. You may need more than one pot if your pot isn’t big enough to fit all the tea.
4) Squeeze the juice from the lemons and oranges into the tea, add a few chunks of fresh ginger, the raisins, honey, grape juice and sugar. Allow the mixture to come to a full boil for at least 10 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
5) Take the pot off the heat and allow it to cool to about 95 degrees before adding the yeast.
6) While the mixture is cooling. You need to prepare you carboys and airlock seals. Everything that touches the wine from here on out must be sanitized. Stray bacteria can make you wine into vinegar!!! So sanitize, sanitize….. did I say sanitize? I will say it again Sanitize EVERYTHING. Spoons, funnels, anything that touches the wine.
I rinse out the carboys with bleach water and then rinse them really well with clean water until they no longer smell like bleach. The bleach will kill your yeast!
I soak the air locks, funnel and cheese cloth in a bleach and water solution and rinse thoroughly before using.
7) Once the mixture has cooled enough to add the yeast and yeast nutrient. The wine is ready to ferment. The amazing little yeastie beasties will eat up all the sugar and turn it into alcohol for you. What great little pets they are. Put the funnel into the top of the carboy, place the cheese cloth inside the funnel. Slowly pour half the wine mixture into the carboy. If the cheese cloth becomes clogged you may need to dump out the gunk it has collected and replace it inside the funnel. Repeat the same process pouring the second half of the mixture into the second carboy. Fill both carboys with clean water until it reaches three gallons in each. Fill the air locks with water and place the stopper and air lock snug on the carboy.
Keep in a moderate temperature room, about 70 degrees. Away from direct sunlight. With in 24 hours the airlocks will start bubbling. That is how you know the yeast is working. The mixture will appear cloudy. In about three weeks or so, the bubbling will stop and the wine will appear clear. Then it is ready to bottle.
We sanitize our glass bottles in our dish washer on a sanitize setting. But you can do it by hand with bleach and water. Make sure you rinse thoroughly to get rid of the bleach.
You will also need to sanitize the siphon hose.
Siphon the wine into your s bottles add 1 campden tablet to each bottle and cap or cork. Place in a cool place dark place for at least 6 months…best around 1 year.
The bottom of the carboy will have a sludge in it. This is called the lees and it all the dead yeast. The yeast ferments until it has no more sugar or reaches an high alcohol volume. Then dies and falls to the bottom. Stop siphon before the lees go into the bottles.
Do not store bottles in a warm place they could burst.
Lees and “sludge” may for at the bottom of the bottles too. You can re “rack” or siphon to new bottles leaving the sludge behind if you want a clearer wine.