I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was making homemade hooch but I didn’t say what type I was making. It’s sort of a funny thing…Emily hates dandelions with a passion. I don’t understand her issues with them but she goes around the yard picking the heads off of them all the time. Occasionally she’ll dig the roots, but mostly she just wants the flowers out of sight. Always one to see an opportunity, I asked her to save the dandelion heads she picked for a project I had in mind!
Wine can be made from all sorts of things including various flowers. Most people have heard of dandelion wine, but wine can also be made from clover, roses, pansies, coltsfoot, and golden rod among others. Anyhow, the real key to dandelion wine, is to use the flower petals and not anything green. I picked a ton of dandelion heads and cut the petals off of them until I had 2 pints of dandelion petals. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you consider the sticky factor, you’ll understand the effort that went in to this project. My fingers were very yellow and sticky and I left yellow fingerprints all over the place!
Anyhow, I kept remembering how tasty the last batch of dandelion wine was many years ago so I pressed on through the allergies and rainbow of colors on my fingers. I wrapped the petals in cheesecloth so they would be manageable and started my brew!
In a big open pitcher, I added the petals, 6 pints of water, 3 Campden tablets, 3 lbs of white sugar (as an approximation…remember 2 cups a pound, the whole world round…2 cups of about anything weighs a pound), 1/3 oz of citric acid (taste some of that straight up sometime!), and yeast nutrients. I let this mixture sit for 2 days in the container loosely covered to keep dust out. After 2 days, I added champagne yeast and let it sit another day. Finally, as it started to bubble, I moved everything but the pouch of petals to a fermentation vessel. The bubbler on top allows the carbon dioxide to escape. Of course, carbon dioxide is a by product of the yeast converting the sugar to alcohol.
Funny story time…I know someone who was creative and decided to forego the typical bubblers used for fermentation. Really, the whole point is to allow a bit of CO2 to build up and then force its way out without allowing other contaminants back in. Some folks take care of that issue by stretching a balloon across the mouth of the fermentation jar. Well, being extra creative, this person stretched a balloon-like male birth control item over the jar lid. Of course, this method would work just fine to allow the CO2 to escape. I am not sure how I would feel about the CO2 building up and…uh…inflating the “balloon” though. Anyhow, without thinking about it, this winemaker bought the variety with spermicide too. Some folks say that too much drinking may lead to pregnancy, but I think this may be a solution!
Anyhow, now I have to wait a few months until all of the sugar is converted to alcohol or the alcohol content rises enough to kill the yeast. Either way, the bubbling will stop and the wine will be ready to settle/age/bottle. I’ll post more on that when the time comes.
(Here is a windows media version if the above doesn’t work)
In the meantime, I will certainly enjoy watching the bubbles rise through the murky yellow concoction. It bubbles and fizzes like crazy, very similar to a bottle of pop when first opened!