Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Wining About the Lawn?

Since I had the chance to visit the farm again this past weekend, I made an effort to get out before the rain and forage a little more local edibles. Tempting though it was to pick more chickweed -- and excited as I was to find other wild edibles coming into view (like May apples and wild raspberries) -- I stuck with my old friend the dandelion.

Surprisingly, the vast expanses of grass behind the house were only lightly speckled with the golden blossoms, so I suspect it was still just a little too early for a bumper crop of dandelion flowers. But I took my quart jar and headed out to pick what I could, plucking off the bitter green base of the blossoms and tossing the petals into the jar.

Once I had tired of picking (and the sprinkles began, causing what few blooms remained to withdraw into themselves), I carried the jar back inside and topped the petals off with plenty of sugar.

If you're wondering about that other jar, well, my copy of The Dandelion Celebration indicated that the unopened buds could be picked as well and pickled, so I thought I'd give that a try, too. Granted, that means fewer blossoms will open this year, but as I don't expect to get back to the farm before the crop dwindles again, I'm not heartbroken.

Since I didn't have all of the ingredients for dandelion wine with me at the farm, I let the blossoms sit covered with the sugar until I got back home. Last night, then, I added the boiling water needed to dissolve the sugar, followed by the yeast (for the fizziness) and the lemon and orange juices (for extra flavor) and let it bubble away overnight.

Tonight I strained the liquid, catching the blossoms and remaining yeast in muslin (and adding them to the compost). The liquid needs to rest another three days before I strain it again, and then it will require a few months before it's ready for the final strain and bottling. This is not a work-intensive process (aside from the picking), but it does call for a good dose of patience.

While I would have liked to have made a larger batch of wine, I have to be realistic: there's just too much going on this month to warrant spending huge amounts of time on one project like this. So, once this brew is ready for the bottle, I'll just have to savor it in small sips until I have the chance to make more.

I might look out at the grass with a wistful expression, but it's not because I want to eliminate the dandelions...

I just want to cook with them all!


At 4/24/2008 1:43 PM, Blogger valereee said...

I've been wanting to try that dandelion-bulb pickle recipe!

At 4/24/2008 2:23 PM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

I'm a little concerned about so much head space and air at the top of the jar as I didn't have an extra lid for a smaller jar, but I'm hoping with the vinegar covering the buds, things should be all right. Will proceed carefully, though... this is VERY new territory for me!

At 4/24/2008 2:25 PM, Blogger Kelly said...

I've never been able to develop a taste for dandelion wine, but I do love early spring greens tossed in miso soup, and like to do a spring cleanse with tea made from the fresh leaves. Thanks for the reminder!

At 4/24/2008 2:37 PM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

The tea sounds intriguing, Kelly... just fresh leaves steeped in hot water? The greens in soup sound good... if it weren't so warm out, I'd be tempted to try that! Maybe this weekend?

At 4/24/2008 8:20 PM, Blogger justagirl said...

Wow! Your earthy industriousness just makes me feel completely inadequate. I'm not coming here anymore. J/K! :D Really, I'm impressed.

At 4/24/2008 10:28 PM, Blogger cv said...

what does dandelion wine taste like?

looks kinda ....beery

At 4/25/2008 7:30 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Hey, wait a minute, justagirl... come back here! ;-) Look at it this way... I've been spending more time foraging than cooking lately, so it's not like I've been all that impressive in the kitchen. Besides, everyone has access to dandelions, right? :-)

cv, I've found that dandelion wine tastes like a light, fizzy, citrusy, gentle sort of champagne with a lot less kick. I mean, it's even tame compared to a mimosa. It looks beery right now because the yeast is still working away and liquid is cloudy, but after another straining, it will be much clearer.

At 4/28/2008 9:15 AM, Blogger justagirl said...

LOL! I happen to have a large crop of dandelions myself. I think we should go into business together - I'll sell you my dandelions and you make the wine! :D

At 4/28/2008 12:32 PM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Right now, justagirl, if I thought there would be a big enough market for homemade dandelion wine, I might just take you up on that. :-)


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