Saturday, 14 April 2012

And then the dandelions became wine......

Traditionally, the day for picking dandelions to tuen them into potent booze is meant to be 23rd April, St Georges' day. But, given the global warming effect and my desperate need for practically free booze, we started early. But you can do it next week. Here's how.

Pick a sunny forecast day. Dandelions need to be picked when they are fully open, and the sap has risen in a suitably Shakespearean and bawdy way, to make you feel all springy. So do it between 12 noon and 2pm, take a long walk with your kids, and the neighbours kids, and use them as slave labour, after carefully showing them the difference between an open, shut, and halfway dandelion head. You need to pick the heads, not more. And although you are going to pour boiling water on them to do away with any dog, or otherwise, wee, I personally felt better about avoiding the dog crap filled walkways of my home town to gather them. So I headed to dog free areas, and got them out of peoples gardens. A particularly rich picking was the old peoples home lawn, and they especially enjoyed me ordering the kids about. You will need FAR MORE than you thought to make a few gallons of wine. I am following the recipe from a friends dad to make 5 gallons, but you can scale down accordingly. To make 5 gallons, you need a gallon of dandelion heads. That is quite a lot.

Take them home. Praise the children, and get them to wash their hands. They will be sappy and sticky. Tell them, now, that dandelions are "pis-en-lit" in France, so that they worry all night.  Then, set to work pulling the petals off. You need the yellow, not the green, although a little bit of green won't kill you, or the wine. You will end up with just short of a gallon of petals. They look very pretty. Discover, too late, that you should have put rubber gloves on, and your hands are now bright yellow.

Sterilise a lidded bucket, or brewing bucket. Basically, you need a clean, lidded bucket to do this bit and if you don't have a brewing bucket, nip out in the next 5 days and get one, while your petals stew in any old (clean) bucket with a lid on. I sterilise with boiling water and a good scrub, but some people like to use Campden tablets. Then pour boiling water all over your petals, to fully cover, and leave it. Discover, too late, that you should not have used a white jug to put the petals in. It's now yellow.  For 2-5 days. That's it, stage one done.

For stage two, you will need 16 oranges, 5 kilos of sugar, yeast nutrient, and wine yeast. And that lidded, brewing bucket. Go get some!

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