Capture the sunshine of spring on your homestead with homemade dandelion wine! Here’s how to make it…
It’s dandelion season, which means it’s time to make some dandelion wine! 🙂 This is a fun way to enjoy this common “weed” by bottling the sunny taste of spring to enjoy next winter. Sweet, floral, and featuring subtle notes of honey and grass, this tasty wine will take a few months to mature, but it will only get better over time.
You’ll need to harvest quite a few dandelions, so this is a good task to assign to any small children you have on hand. You may be surprised at how quickly they’ll fill a basket with all the flowers you need to make a great batch of wine!
After picking, you will need to separate the petals from the green parts of the flower head. This is the most tedious part, so again, helping hands will be very useful! You can either pull out the yellow petals by hand, or cut them using scissors or a sharp pair of kitchen shears. I have found that the shears are faster, but you’ll get more out of each flower (so you won’t need as many flowers) if you simply pluck them out by hand.
Keep in mind that you only want to use dandelions that were grown in an area without pesticide sprays or other chemicals, so it’s best to avoid roadsides and pick only from your own homestead or backyard if possible. The citrus will add some nice flavors and a hint of tartness, and you will want to use organic if possible, especially since you’ll be using the outer zest.
This version is made using a “cold brew” method. You may see other recipes that use a “tea” method, soaking the dandelion petals in hot water, but this will destroy some of the delicate floral aromas, so your finished wine will taste a little different.
This recipe makes a one-gallon batch, but if you have more (or fewer) flowers, you can easily adjust up or down, keeping the proportions the same. Keep in mind that for the primary ferment, you will want to use a wide-mouth fermentation vessel, as the flower petals will stick to the inside of the jar, making it very difficult to clean if you use something with a narrow neck. (I used a fermentation bucket for the first ferment, and a glass carboy for the second, after the petals were strained out.)
If you do not already have fermentation equipment, here is the minimum that you will need for this recipe:
- At least 1 one-gallon container (or two half-gallons) with a tight fitting lid and air lock (having two containers will make it easier when transferring your wine and straining out solids, but you can always pour or rack your wine into multiple containers and wash the main one out between ferments)
- A fine mesh strainer
- An auto-siphon (optional but highly recommended, especially for 1 gallon or larger batches. Trust me – it makes things SO much easier!)
These are just the basics that you will need beyond just regular kitchen essentials. If you plan to make a lot of wine in the future, you may want to invest in a fermentation kit, which usually comes equipped with everything you’ll need.
Homemade Dandelion Wine Recipe
Yield: 1 Gallon
Active Time: 1-2 hours, depending on available helpers!
Fermentation Time: 5-6 months (or more)
- 3 quarts non-chlorinated water (approximate, more to fill)
- 3 pounds sugar (roughly 5 to 6 cups)
- 1-quart dandelion petals, picked from roughly 3-4 quarts blossoms
- 3 oranges – juice and zest
- 1 lemon – juice and zest
- 1 tsp yeast nutrient (alternatively, you can add a small handful of raisins (about 2 TBs), but it will slightly alter the flavor of your wine. You can also ferment without either of these, but it will take longer.)
- 1 packet wine yeast* or champagne yeast**
* Note: Be sure to pay attention to the instructions on your yeast packet! Many packets of wine or champagne yeast are for 5-gallon batches. You will want to adjust the amount of yeast accordingly if your packet states that it is for anything other than 1 gallon of wine.
** Note: Champagne yeast may make a drier wine and may take longer to finish fermenting as it will eat up more of the sugar; if using champagne yeast, you may want to reduce the amount used if you prefer a sweeter wine.
- Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar and cool to lukewarm.
- Place the dandelion petals, citrus juice and zest into a one-gallon fermentation vessel (wide mouth highly recommended). Add the yeast nutrient and pour the lukewarm sugar water over the top.
- Dissolve a packet (or appropriate portion of a packet) of champagne yeast or other wine yeast in lukewarm water. Allow it to stand for 5 minutes to rehydrate and then pour it into the wine vessel. Top off with a bit of extra water to fill the vessel, but be sure to leave at least an inch of headspace.
- Cap with an airlock and ferment for about 3 weeks or until fermentation has stopped. It will take a bit longer if you don’t use raisins or yeast nutrient because they provide extra micro-nutrients to get the yeast working faster.
- Siphon the wine into a clean container, leaving the yeast sediment behind. Reapply the lid and air lock and allow the wine to ferment in secondary for at least 6 to 8 weeks, checking the water lock periodically to ensure that the water hasn’t evaporated.
- Siphon the dandelion wine into a clean container, again leaving the sediment behind, to prepare for bottling.
- Bottle the dandelion wine in corked wine bottles for longer storage, or flip top Grolsch-style bottles for smaller batches you’re not planning on storing long.
- Allow the wine age in the bottle at least 2 months before drinking, ideally 6 months or more. (During aging, the wine should be kept somewhere cool-ish like a basement or closet on the north side of the house.)