Seeing he was packing his tubs, along with a couple of bottles of pop and opal fruits (they are now called starburst,) I figured it must be wine. The Tubs were old ice cream cartons, that all fitted inside each other until they were full and had their tops on, if you want an alternative, then maybe try Tupperware, but they always seemed to suffice, and what's wrong with having to eat ice cream for the price of your hobby, or using the ice cream to keep the monsters happy.
"So what we after?" I asked
He mumbled the first part but I heard the second part, which was "lions."
"What?" I asked, adding "Lions?"
Now if I were older I would have noticed the grin, as he agreed with me, but we had Lambton lion park in our region, so maybe one had escaped. Plus I always wanted a lion as a kid. Everyone else wanted a monkey, a dog or a rabbit, but I wanted a Lion. I did not mention it was to take across the road and bite the head off of an Alsatian dog that had bit me when I was younger.
You would not believe the frustration I felt after walking for miles only to find a field full of "pitley-beds," (a childhood name for the plant, we all seemed to use. No idea why.)
We had walked for miles looking for this field that he had spotted some time before in the middle of a massive forest so we could not hear a car let alone have their fumes spoil the plants sun gold petals.
"And when do you pick flowers" he asked, knowing the answer too well was when they are full of sun. I was still cheesed off with him, as we could have wandered round the streets back home for five minutes and collected just as many, not knowing at the time that we were there because of the location, and the fact they were clean from car fumes and dog pee.
As normal the day ended with some form of ball game, or us ending up in a river.
In any way here is the recipe he added to his folder for this rather pleasant wine, after some trial and error getting the best recipe that he liked. I would suggest you try slightly chilled on a warm summer evening, and revel in the moment that you are making to remember for the rest of your life.
A medium white table wine
First thing first was to remove all the green “we had picked" apparently our nimble little fingers were the culprits and not his big clumpers. But he ended up with two piles of bright yellow leaves, each 3/4 gal. Although this is the use of one of those piles of flowers.
Clean and drain the flowers
After that it was throwing them into large white bin , before pouring over 1 Gallon of boiling water. Apparently you can start with the petals in cold water and bring to the boil but he chose to use the old 5 Gallon tub and boiling water. There are several methods for this if you read the books.
Cover and leave for three to four days. This tub was a posh one, and had its own lid.
He also suggests as the flowers tend to float, you should give the mix a stir twice a day and push the flowers under the water so they stay moist and the water gets the benefit of their flavour, and will also prevent spoiling.
After the four days, strain off the liquid into a clean container, pressing the pulp until it is as dry as you can get it. So you are left with the juice of the soaked flowers
Now you are making wine.
So the ingredients are
- dandelion flowers you already have, or now you have the juice of the above
- 1 Lemon
- 1 Orange
- 1 Piece Ginger root
- Campden tablets
- 3lb Sugar
- 1/4 oz citric acid
- 1/16 oz Tannin
- Yeast and Nutrient
- Pectic Enzyme
You need both the rind and the Juice from the orange and the lemon and you need to bruise the Ginger root.
Now to the container with the flower juice you add the rind and juice of the orange and lemon.
Add the ginger root, citric acid, Tannin, and sugar, then bring to the boil stirring in the sugar until it dissolves.
Boil for thirty minutes, then pour into a bucket and let cool, before adding pectic enzyme.
Cover and leave for twenty four hours.
Add yeast and Nutrient, and then leave covered for seven days, stirring daily. make sure you keep it covered as there is a lot that can kill your wine before it has a chance.
Strain liquid into a fermentation jar and then fit an airlock before moving the jar to a warm place for fermenting, leaving it until it stops bubbling or ferments out, as he puts in his notes.
Next you need to rack off into a clean jar with 1 campden tablet and this time fit a bung, then rack off every two months until clear. Rack off just means siphon it into a new jar. There are filters that you can use but a lot of people think that this can destroy the wine, so you may be better off just leaving the filter and sticking to the siphon.
When you rack off you will be leaving the sediment behind, so will have to top up the liquid to the neck. You do not use syrup like before this time you can do this using another wine or brandy or water.
Once it is clear you can bottle it but do not rush it too much, as it is maturing and you really do not want it full of sediment.
You can get dried flowers, which you will only need to use one pack for the above mix, the book bellow shows two different recipes for dandelion wine than the one shown above, I would suggest trying different recipes until you find one that suits your pallet, rather than discounting the wine on one recipe.
This recipe can be used for a long list of flowers, but please find a good book like the one bellow that lists the ones you can and can't use. Some flowers will taste rotten and some will kill you, or at least make you very ill, so you really need to take care.
If you are struggling to find any of the ingredients, such as campden tablets, citric acid or tannin tablets, then try a search on the google search I set up for wine making ingredient suppliers.
A good tip if you run out of tannin, is to use a dessert spoon full of cold strong tea.
The book I am reading at the moment is:
C.J.J. Berry's, First Steps in Winemaking.
Which you can find if you do a search for the title on the Amazon search I set up on the right. Just copy and paste the title
This really is a great book, with so much in it for those wanting to step out from under the wine kit, and make your wine from fresh or dried fruits and flowers.
The book has two different recipes for dandelion wine, and a lot of good information, perfect for the beginner or as reference for those with more experience.
There is also a great seasonal breakdown of what to start making, and when it is available if you are determined to use fresh ingredients, which are readily available at the right time of year, but don't stress if it is not the right time of year, as you can always buy dried ingredients from a reputable supplier. Try out the Google search I have set up, as it is designed to the search for wine and beer making products and other things you may need.
Don't forget to read the reviews on Amazon for this book, as it really is seen as the one you would recommend by most winemakers.
Enjoy your wine, and remember to make use of that slave labour in the guise of a good day out.