Micro-Batch Dandelion Wine
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 cutedandelion 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.
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.
Divide a one-gallon recipe by 2 and you can make a batch in a half gallon mason jar, or divide it by 4 and make a batch in a quart mason jar. Of course, measurements don’t always divide neatly, but fudging it a tiny bit is fine two. For more details on the overall process, try this primer on small batch winemaking.
Starting with my one gallon dandelion wine recipe, here’s the rough conversion for a 1 quart batch.
Micro-Batch Dandelion Wine (One Quart Recipe)
• 1 cup dandelion petals, yellow parts only
• 3/4 lb sugar (roughly 1-1/2 cups)
• Juice and zest of 1/2 both an orange and lemon
• 1/4 tsp yeast nutrient (or about 10 raisins)
• 1 tiny pinch wine yeast
• 2-3 cups water, plus more to fill
1. Bring 2 cups water and sugar to a boil in a saucepan. Turn off heat, stir to dissolve the sugar and cool completely.
2. Place the dandelion petals, citrus juice and zest into a one-quart mason jar. Add the yeast nutrient and pour the lukewarm sugar water over the top, filling to within 1 inch of the top.
3. Add a pinch of wine yeast, and cap with a mason jar fermentation kit.
4. Allow the wine to ferment for about 3 weeks, or until the visible fermentation stops.
5. Filter out the dandelion petals, and carefully pour the wine into another mason jar, leaving the yeast sediment behind in the bottom of the jar.
6. Re-cap with a mason jar fermentation kit and allow it to continue fermenting for another 6-8 weeks.
7. When fermentation is complete, carefully pour the wine into another mason jar, again leaving the sediment behind. Cap up tightly and store in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks before drinking (preferably longer).
8. Alternatively, bottle in a flip top Grolsch bottle or regular corked wine bottle.
Ashley lives in a solar and wind powered home in Vermont with her husband and two young children. She writes about gardening, foraging, home brewing, DIY and all things off-grid at Practical Self Reliance and shares recipes from her Vermont kitchen on Adamant Kitchen. You can find pictures of her homestead adventures on Instagram, or follow along on Facebook pages for Practical Self Reliance and Adamant Kitchen. She’s also on Twitter.
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