A few weeks ago I went to visit my friend, Cristin, in Baltimore. It was a beautiful weekend in early April. Baltimore being only a few hours south of New York, I’m still always surprised by the weather difference. Magnolia and Cherry Blossoms were already in full bloom, with New York’s spring still a few weeks away. There was no shortage of activities in front of us–museums, Fells Point, antiquing. But being high off my first foraging experience just the weekend the before, we decided on what any sane, classy women in their early 30s would do. We spent the afternoon picking dandelions and the evening making wine.
Other than the dandelions we needed to collect, most of the ingredients were common household staples–oranges, lemons, sugar and raisins. You’ll also need brewer’s yeast and yeast nutrient something you probably wouldn’t have around your house, unless like Cristin, you just brewed some mead a few months back. However these ingredients are easily found at your local homebrew store.
I was very diligent in photographing each step. Only several steps and several hours in did I realize photos of the final product was not possible. Most wines take months to years to finish. Why would dandelion wine be any different? The initial steps took less than 24 hours, but the entire fermentation process still needed a few months. I left Baltimore with our jug of wine in Cristin’s hands, to let her finish the process, and reconvene in a year to taste our product.
Back in Brooklyn, during my day of violet foraging, a came across a patch of dandelions too large to ignore (I swear, I can never look at them the same again). Coincidentally, Leda Meredith also posted her dandelion wine recipe on Facebook around the same time. Why couldn’t I make my own batch? Cristin and I agreed it was absolutely necessary to make both wines and compare upon completion. While the wine won’t be ready for another year, I figured I’d share both recipes before the last of the dandelions morph into fuzzy seed buds, in case you were interested. Perhaps we can all get together for a dandelion tasting party next spring to choose the favorite!
A Few Tips I learned during the early stages:
- Choose your dandelions from patches further into the park or field, where pets are less likely to have visited them.
- Wear gloves when harvesting. Dandelions have sticky, sappy stems and a high level of pollen, resulting in yellow fingers if not protected.
- Wash your flowers thoroughly! While the Brooklyn flowers seemed clean to start, the Baltimore buds came with a complementary community of miniature ants. We think we got them all out of Cristin’s kitchen…
And now for the recipes:
- Meatless Monday – Dandelion Salad (angiesgrapevine.wordpress.com)
- The Dandelion. If you hate them, maybe you misunderstand them. (bugmag.wordpress.com)
- A New Look at Local Food: Urban Foraging (bklynlocavore.com)
- Foraging for Violets – Violet Syrup and Bonus Cocktail (bklynlocavore.com)
- The Joys of making Violet and Dandelion Jelly (thefamilyhomestead.wordpress.com)