Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dandelion Wine per Johnny Renner

Okay, while we’re on the subject of libation:

one gallon of Blossoms thoroughly washed. pour over them one gallon of boiling water and let stand for forty eight hours. strain and add peel and all three oranges, two lemons. with two lbs of seeded raisins. three and one half lbs. white sugar. and one cake of compressed yeast. Let stand for 48 hours more strain again and put in a large earthen jar to ferment covering with a cloth. Keep in a warm place untill fermentation has finished, and it is clear then dip off and bottle. do not skim just let settle.

. . . Right. That’s exactly verbatim from what I have on a little piece of ruled notepaper, written in pencil by my Grandpa Renner, who died in 1975 when I was nine.

The paper with his recipe is carefully folded and looked very flattened, as if he had kept it in his wallet for a long time. Mom gave it to me several years ago, along with another recipe (for cherry wine).

So after pondering the idea for years, we finally did make dandelion wine a few years ago, using flowers from our own yard (which we never sprayed, much to the irritation of our neighbors). We based our wine on Grandpa’s recipe, and we filled in our knowledge gaps using other dandelion wine recipes gleaned from the Internet. And we updated some stuff; for instance, we used our home-brew beer-making equipment (a big plastic bucket with spigot, bottle capper, etc.) instead of a “large earthen jar” and “a cloth.”

I’m not going to spell out the entire recipe for you, but I am going to tell you it made yummy, delicious, golden wine. Sweet springtime sunshine in a bottle.

Note: When we first tried the product of our labors, it was pretty awful; it was too sweet and thick. You could have poured it over pancakes. It was gross. It languished in our cellar for a year. When we tasted it next, it tasted much, much better. Yummy.

So I’m sharing this with you, now, in hopes that this might be the year that you take the plunge—once it gets a little warmer, and that won’t be too long from now—the first golden crop of dandelions will start blooming out on your lawn. Maybe this year, instead of cussing at them, you’ll greet them with a smile, and think about your new little chemistry project you’re gonna do down in the basement.

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