The other week I decided to run from Bath to Frome and on my way I passed a field of dandelions which got me thinking. Not much else to do on a long run but think and remember to put each foot in front of the other.
So I was thinking back to when I was a child and how bad it would be to run through that field of dandelions as I was always told they would make me wee the bed. Not sure if its an old wives tale or if there is some truth to it.
Anyway, when I got home I dug out some old recipe books and did a bit of research and asked a few brewing friends and it seems that dandelion wine is a thing and not only that, it's meant to be pretty good.
So, I got in the car and drove back to the field, but there was no easy access, but luckily then next field had lots of big yellow flowers too and an open gate. So what more of an invitation did I need.
First, the farmers around here like to spray their fields with manure and sometimes chemical fertilisers, so the first thing to do is check there isnt any in this field - none - Yay!
With my carrier bag in hand I proceeded to pick lots and lots of heads - about 2/3rd of a carrier bag - which I later weighed to find it was about 1kg. Perfect.
I really needed to have taken something to wash my hands with, cause all the pollen from flowers was all over my hands. It smelt amazing, but was so sticky!
By the time I got them home after a quick stop in Tuckers Grave for a cider, the flowers had started to close up. I found this made it easy to rip the petals from the flower head, but after, the pollen on my hands was so sticky, it took ages to wash it off and even after 10 minutes, I got fed up and just had yellow fingers for a day. I'm sure everyone that saw my hands thought I was a 100 a day smoker.
It didnt take too long and then on with the recipe. Pouring on the boiling water released lots of honey & grass aromas, and then stirring it with a plastic spoon released all the pollen from the flowers which turned the bucket and spoon yellow. Then to let it cool so that we can add some pectolase.
Pectolase enzyme breaks down the cell walls and helps to release the colour and flavour thats trapped in those cells. Yes it is mainly used to help prevent a pectin haze in finished fruit wines, but use it to also get that bit extra out of your fruit or vegetables too.
I left the pectolase to do its thing and for the petals to infuse their flavours into the water for 48 hours. After which I strained them and then added the sugar, lemons, tea bag and white wine enhancer to the liquid, followed by the yeast nutrient and the All purpose white wine yeast.
Then into my warm cupboard for 7 days at 20°C to ferment. After 7 days I siphoned it into a demijohn and then back to my cupboard for another 2 weeks.
I'm still not sure if I'm going to let it clear itself or use finings to speed up the process, perhaps a little of both. and then into the bottles and leave for a few months.
So' I'm looking forward to trying it as initial aromas are very promising.
Anyway, heres my recipe. Try it and let me know how you get on...
Ingredients for 1 gallon
2/3rds carrier bag full of Dandelion Heads
800g Brewing sugar
500g Granulated sugar
4.5 litres (8 pints) Boiling Water
250ml White Wine Enhancer
2 Lemons - Zest & Juice
1 tsp Pectolase
1 tea bag
1tsp White Wine Yeast
1tsp Yeast Nutrient
- - -
We only want the petals
1 - Pluck the petals from the head and place in a brewing bucket. We don't want stalk.
2 - Pour over 8 pints of boiling water, cover and leave till 40°C
3 - Stir in the 1tsp of pectolase, cover and leave for 48 hours. This will help bring the colour & flavour out of the petals.4 - Strain the infusion to remove the petals (remembering you need to keep the liquid)
5 - Add the sugar to the liquid and stir to dissolve.
6 - Add the juice & zest of the lemons, the tea bag & the white wine enhancer and stir.
8 - Use a hydrometer and take a Specific Gravity reading and keep this safe.
9 - Check the temperature and when around 18 - 22°C add the yeast nutrient and white wine yeast.
10 - Put the lid on loosely and transfer to somewhere warm (approx 20°C) for 7 days to ferment.
11 - Siphon into a demi-john and keep at around 20°C to allow for the the fermentation to complete. This can take up to 4 weeks.
14 - Once the fermentation is complete, rack the wine off the sediment into a clean, sterilised demi-john. Add 1 crushed Campden tablet and stir.
15 - Refit the airlock and leave to clear.
16 - Once clear, it's time to bottle. Leave for 3 months in the bottle to condition, then chill, pop one open fingers crossed it should be delicious.