The Cottage Smallholder


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Don’t miss the dandelions. Gilbert’s dandelion wine recipe

dandelion heads in basketHave you ever tasted dandelion wine?

Dandelions can be annoying in the garden. They’re a palaver to remove as their tap roots are thick and sturdy. But they are the key ingredient in an excellent homemade white table wine.

Gilbert will sometimes pour a glass if you pop round on a summer’s evening. As long as you are on foot. The first time that I sampled his patent recipe, it slipped down like water from a clear cold stream. I accepted a second glass. After the third, I had to feel my way home.

Two years ago I picked the dandelions in our cottage garden far too early. Having collected every single head, there was just a handful the next year. I left these to go to seed as stocks needed to be replenished.

This year there were masses again. I never thought that my eyes would sweep over the garden with pride at the sight of hundreds of yellow nodding heads.

But I waited just a little too long and yesterday I struggled to find enough heads to make a gallon of wine. So many have gone to seed that I’m hoping to fill quite a few demi johns next year.

Of course I could pick them from elsewhere but prefer my country wine to be estate gathered and bottled. It’s just a bit more fun.

Apart from the superb wine, the flowers provide a valuable source of nectar for the bees and poultry love the leaves as a special snack. So if you love good homemade wine, keep bees and want to indulge you chickens, then let your dandelions romp away.

Gilbert’s dandelion wine recipe

Ingredients (you can find a great converter here):

  • 3-4 pints of dandelion heads picked when they are open, with the sun on them, at midday.
  • Water to cover
  • 3 large oranges (orange peel, no white pith and strained juice)
  • 2.5 pounds of white granulated sugar.
  • Wine yeast

Method:

  1. Pick your dandelion heads at midday when the heads are fully open. Remove any stalk but leave the green bits beneath the petals.
  2. Cover immediately with boiling water and steep for 48 hours.
  3. With a sharp knife carefully remove the orange peel (no white pith). Add to the dandelions and their steeped juice and simmer briskly for 15 minutes. Strain through muslin immediately onto the sugar and stir to disolve the sugar.
  4. Allow to cool (closely covered with a tea towel or tightly fitting lid) .
  5. When cold add the juice of the oranges, proved wine yeast and yeast nutrient. Stir well and leave for five days in a warm place. Pour into a sterilised demi john and top up with boiled and cooled water to a gallon. Fit fermenting lock. Put in a warm place for at least a month. Rack and transfer to a cooler place when initial fermentation ceases. Leave well alone for at least a year.
  6. If fermentation has ceased and the wine is clear rack into bottles and store for as long as you can (a year is ideal).

N.B. I use two pound of sugar in the initial stage and then add the aother half pound (as a sugar solution) after the first racking to top the demi john.

Stored well most country wine improves with age. Sample a little every six months or so. The one that tastes vile after a year can often be a stars two years down the line.

Keep very detailed good notes (a label on the demi john is a good idea) so as to repeat your method. As Anne Mary says,
“Give six people the same recipe and ingredients. Each dish will taste different.”

It’s the same with country wine.


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25 Comments

  1. alice

    Hi Fiona,
    You mentioned in the instructions to add the wine yeast and also “yeast nutrient.” I’ve never made wine before and was wondering what the yeast nutrient was…thanks!

  2. marchandoj

    I made Hank’s version also this year..have just put all into demi-johns, cannot wait for 2 years from now..I made my 1st dandelion wine following Gilbert’s recipe and it rocked!! Only 1 or 2 bottles left. Stupidly (just as Fiona had blogged in other posts) when I tasted the wine a year after I made it it tasted really bad, so I did not bother making any last year..BIG MISTAKE!…6 months later it was YUMMY!! So nice that my bro in Australia is making Country Wine following his visit to my house in Ireland this year…..

  3. carroinfaith

    i have done this wine for the second batch now without the green stalks as someone said it makes it bitter to compare(took ages) – well of to a good start as i cant get the mash to start formenting, added more nutrient still lifeless and its not cold. Should i buy a new yeast sachet and start a starter bottle off to add – i dont want to add too much yeast.

  4. After the invasion of dandelion seeds last year from the unkept plot over the road and ensuing dandelion fest in my rockery/garden/drive/lawn this year, I have taken attempted to take preventative action by cutting off the heads of said weeds/flowers in the yellow field opposite. However after being out there for an hour and filling 1/4 of a fermentation bucket with the evil heads I see relatively little impact on the overall yellow hue from my window. Hopefully this time next year I will be enjoying a glass of delicious dandelion wine and be greatful that there are so many yellow monsters freely available just out of my door.

  5. Have just found this site after seeing so many dandelions earlier, and wondered what could be done with them.

    A trip to the shops tomorrow morning, then pick loads of dandelions on the way home – will be a fun afternoon making it up 🙂

  6. MiZzy

    Heys dizzy i used a pint glass we got from the pub and just filled it to the top with the flowers i did this 5 times xx

  7. MiZzy

    Hi there,

    I’ve never made wine before in my life!! and today me and the b/f spent some time picking the dandelions’ from the garden we had loads! Now there just seeping in a pan and im about to order a demijohn I do hope they go well looking so forward to it if this batch goes well this is defo going to be a yearly thing! thank you so much your blog is awesome being self sufficient is defo the way forward I think! xx

  8. Busylizzy

    Hi,
    Found your website looking for details on white sprouting broccoli – and now I’m ready to make dandilion wine – only thing is (and forgive my ignorance here) how do you measure a pint of flower heads?

  9. Hi, I agree with you dandelion wine is one of the best homemade wines. Traditionally the flowers should be picked on St. George’s Day (weather permitting)never pick them on a damp day.I don’t use any chemicals or additives in my wines. A few years ago, much to my surprise, a bottle of my dandelion wine won best in show along with a trophy.

  10. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Mollysmum

    I can’t wait to try dandelion jelly – sounds superb. Thanks.

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