Weeding by moonshine

It certainly is dandelion season. And I recently stumbled across a fun-looking recipe for dandelion wine that I thought I could actually manage. I love these sorts of experiments! Making fantastic new things from something we already have and have prematurely designated as useless. The inspiration for the dandelion recipe search actually came from a poem fragment I had been developing on my typewriter. It involved a character who had gathered a lot of dandelion blossoms, but then I couldn't figure out what the hell she was going to do with them:

Rabbit (version 2)

She fetches a few shaggy dandelions

then off with their heads--
a collection of sallow plumes,
skeletal stems tossed back to the yard.

Blooms gather in her apron like
buttons, blunt and beggarly.

Common and curious as coins.

So, when Emily came over for tea on Sunday, we collected a quart of dandelions from the yard on Goose Hill--blossoms only, there is no need of bitter greenery and roots in this wine recipe. I've always been an exemplary harvester (just not so good at the growing bit), but that works out well for this project, seeing as dandelions need absolutely no encouragement to make a bright nuisance of themselves.

Once we had washed the ants out of the petals and snipped off any stems still hanging on, we put the dandelion heads into the biggest vat of a cooking pot I own with a gallon of water and waited for it to boil. You may not be surprised to learn that it takes quite a while for a gallon of water to come to a boil. Then, we had to let the flowers steep themselves for half an hour. The end result of this was a dark brown-green liquid. It actually looked a bit like river water and the boiled yellow blooms like anemones. After straining the flowers from our boiled nectar, we had to wait once again, for the concoction to cool. In the meantime, we mixed the rest of the fermentable additives together: 3 lbs. of sugar(!), 1 lb. of seedless raisins, 1 orange (cut up), 1 lemon (cut up), and 1 yeast cake (an antiquated measurement that I found equates to 2-1/4 tsp. of active dry yeast) in 1/2 c. tepid water.

Once all ingredients had been combined, here was the result:

The raisins all sunk to the bottom. But the rest of it looks a bit like some exotic cider. So now for more waiting...

It'll take two full weeks of fermentation (with the mixture being stirred each day) before the wine is ready for bottling and/or tasting. It looks and smells pretty good each time I remove the lid to give it a good stir. I really hope it's not disgusting.


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