I could find only scant folklore about the history and use of Dandelion Wine on the internet….Although it has been reported to be of Celtic origin, I am not sure that is true. What I surmise is that there is a great probability that folks have been enjoying this drink for hundreds of years.
European settlers are said to have brought dandelions to the New World. Throughout most of the 19th and early 20th Centuries, Americans revered dandelions as a useful herb. The young leaves and flowers were collected and enjoyed in soups and salads. The roots were harvested and roasted, then ground to make a tasty coffee substitute. People collected the flowers to make delicious dandelion wine.
To make this simple beverage, pick dandelion flowers at midday when they are fully opened. Clean the flower heads to remove the base and green sepals. I pinch the flower heads to break the petals free, or you can split them in half and use your thumb to free the petals from the flower base. I am not a purist, so having a few speaks in the mix does not bother me one bit. It took me only 15 minutes to collect enough flowers for one quart of petals. Cleaning the flowers took a good hour of solid “petal pushing”, LOL! Here’s the recipe:
1 quart dandelion petals
1 gallon boiling water
3 cup sugar
Juice of 2 lemons and 2 oranges
1 medium ginger root, thinly sliced
1 cup of raisins
1 package of wine yeastPlace dandelion blossoms in the boiling water. Cover and allow to stand for 48 hours. Strain through cheese cloth and squeeze petals to remove water. Add the raisins, ginger root, the lemon and orange juices to the decoction in a large pan. Place the pan on a stove burner and heat until it boils. Add the sugar, stir to dissolve and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool to 90 degrees F (32 degrees C). Strain again. Stir the yeast into 1/4 cup of very warm water.Let this “proof” for 10 minutes. Mix into the cooled decoction and then pour the whole thing into a sterilized 1 gallon crock or jar. Cover with a paper coffee filter, fastened in place with a rubber band. Let the wine ferment in a cool area for 10 to 14 days. Check fermentation after day 10. If ready, then strain through cheesecloth before bottling in quart-sized, sterilized canning jars with lids and rings. Age the wine at least 6 months to a year for best flavor.