Last Monday, I headed out to the Sno-Valley Tilth farmer's potluck to share food with valley farmers and listen to a talk on native pollinators. Getting to know this valley in so many different aspects.
On the way, I happened upon a bountiful field full of the harbingers of spring and realized there was just enough time to pick a basketful of flowers and get to the potluck.
Dandelions, the sun come to earth…have you noticed how they hide their faces when the sun goes behind a cloud or begins its descent into the western horizon? I delight in the way the fine rayed petals (each a separate flower in a community of many) shine the light right back up at that golden sky orb…
|Oregon Grape flowers, delicious and tangy|
My mom was a knitter, always kept her hands busy when she went to meetings. I fell in with the roots and barks and flowers and keep these hands busy moving plants along in their journeys through time and place.
It never ceases to amaze me that when a woman sits down with a basket of herbs and starts doing something with them, any other women in the near vicinity mozey over and wonder what she's doing! Before you know it everyone is plucking and visiting and having a good time. And so, the basket of flowers became a basket of petals in no time at all.
|A basket full of sunshine|
Of course, that's what I love about country wines, they're a social thing. Like eating and dancing!
Here's the recipe for one gallon of Dandelion Wine for all to enjoy…
Dandelion Wine Recipe April 2014
Pick a basketful of dandelion blossoms. About 1 gallon for a gallon of wine.
Pick petals from the calyx…this is the second picking! This year the Oregon Grape was blooming, so 2 big handfuls of their flowers went in and the Lungwort was not to be left out so a handful of lungwort was added as well. Sometimes, cowslips are abloom when the wine is coming together and they go in too!
Be daring, mix it up a little, see what happens!
I like making one gallon of 3-4 different wines each summer. This quantity is easy to put down in an afternoon. Uncorking sunny flowers and fruits, vitamins and minerals in dark and rainy times sparks winter cheer.
- Place petals into a stainless steel pan
- Add 3/4 gallon boiling water
- Add 2 1/2 # sugar or honey, your choice
- Stir to dissolve
- Slice 1 organic orange and 1 organic grapefruit into thin slices toss them in the kettle
- Stir and cover with a cotton dish towel
- Cool down to blood heat
- While the brew cools mix 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon yeast into warm water with a double pinch of sugar or small spoon of honey to make a nucleus, this quickens the yeast so it hits the tea ready to work on the sugars sparking an eager ferment
- Pitch the yeast into the tea mix and cover again with the cotton dish towel
|Pitching the yeast!|
- Now, the primary fermentation takes place, let the kettle bubble and spark until it settles down into a quiet state
- Boil 32 ounces water with 16 oz sugar, remove from heat and add 2 black teabags, let cool
- Strain out all plant material and rebottle liquid into a 1 gallon glass jug (apple cider jug)
- Add as much of the simple tea syrup as needed to bring liquid to the shoulder of the jug, don't fill too full, ferment will be active to start
- Close top with a fermentation lock or a balloon and watch the secondary fermentation begin
- Let the ferment go until it stops, make sure the wine is in a place that stays the temperature that will allow a yeasted dough to rise
- Once fermentation has ceased the wine is ready to bottle
The wine can be bottled once the sediment has settled and cleared to your liking. I often leave mine until the first freeze of fall. Something mysterious happens about this time which helps clear the wine a wee bit more.
|A delicious finish to enjoy and share with friends!|
This is just the tip of the iceberg…want more great ways to include Dandelion's wealth of health giving properties into your life? Her leaves and roots are nature's storehouse of nutrients and how she works in your garden will blow you away!
Be sure to check out this summer's classes, Rambles Around the Salish Sea and events on the 2016 Schedule...