Micro-Batch Dandelion Wine

| 6/24/2019 7:23:00 AM

Ten years ago this spring, my husband and I made a 5 gallon batch of dandelion wine on our first date.  Dandelion wine requires commitment you see.  While you can pick enough dandelions for a good-sized batch in about 20 minutes, it takes hours to separate the flavorful petals from the bitter leaves and sepals.  We spent those hours in the shade, getting to know one another and I wouldn’t trade that afternoon for anything in the world.

These days, we have two young children at home, and activities need to come in smaller packages.  My little “helpers” are game for just about anything, so long as it doesn’t take more than 15 to 20 minutes of focus.  There’s no way they’d have the patience to sit quietly separating dandelions for hours, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be dandelion wine.

I started by appealing to their own sense of self interest, and first we made dandelion toddler treats.  A batch of “healthy” dandelion and honey marshmallows, a few super cute dandelion gummy bears, and a simple dandelion shortbread.  Each of those only requires about 1/2 to 1 cup of dandelion petals, and got my little dandelion hunters primed and excited to help.

prepping dandelion petals for winemaking

Still, my “small batch” one-gallon dandelion wine recipe requires a full quart of packed dandelion petals, plucked from roughly 3-4 quarts of dandelion flowers.  The first time I sat down to pluck petals with my best girl on a sunny day, we only made it to about 2 cups fluffy petals (or 1 cup packed).  That’s not nearly enough for a one-gallon batch, but it’s just right for a micro batch made in a quart mason jar.

We’ve been doing a lot of micro batch brews, using either a silicone water lock or other mason jar fermentation kit.  There’s so many types out there, and they all work pretty well.  The goal is to allow the bubbles from the ferment to escape the jar, but keep fresh air (and contamination) out.  The same one-way valves that work for sauerkraut are perfect for small batch wines, and they fit on any wide mouth mason jar.

That means you can make small batch wine in pint, quart or half gallon batches easily.  A one-quart batch is really convenient because it makes almost exactly 1 bottle of wine.  Perfect for a test batch when you’re working with a new recipe. 

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