I wish I knew decades ago what I know now about the medicinal and nutritional benefits of dandelions: I remember my dad spending hours trying to get these sunny little “weeds” out of our suburban lawn.
But savvy homesteaders, foragers, and DIY-ers know that the flowers, leaves, and roots of dandelions are edible. The greens can be eaten cooked or raw, the roots are a healing liver tonic, and the flowers can be used to make a delicious spring tonic known as dandelion wine.
If you want to connect with your local ecosystem, maximize your use of wild foods, or just want a new DIY project, (how cool is it to give a gift of homemade wine or enjoy it with someone you love?), making dandelion wine may be for you.
I particularly like dandelion wine (and the dandelion greens and roots) because it’s so fun to share this awesome plant with people who normally consider it just a weed. I love challenging commonly held misconceptions of plants, like dandelion, purslane, and amaranth in this way, and surprising people with the benefits of truly wild foods.
Also, if you live in a dandelion-growing region (which is almost everywhere!), you have an abundant, FREE source of ingredients at your fingertips, so it’s an economical way to experiment with homemade wines and ferments. You’ll need a few pieces of equipment to get started, but these are pretty affordable and can be purchased from a natural foods store or wine/beer brewing shop.
How To Harvest Dandelions For Wine
When choosing your forage grounds for harvesting your dandelions, be sure to choose flowers from non-sprayed areas. Never harvest from city parks, urban areas, or near roadways, as these might be contaminated with fertilizer, physical contaminants, and/or pesticides. It’s also good to make sure your dandelions do not come from grassy areas used by pets, as the plants might be contaminated with urine or feces.
Related Post: Why You Should Keep Your Dandelions
While the whole dandelion plant is edible, only the bright yellow petals are used for wine making. But it’s not as easy as just snipping off the heads: Each of those tiny little petals must be removed from the flower head entirely before proceeding. Find a friend and get plucking!
It’s best to pick dandelions first thing in the morning (or when the buds open). Feral Botanicals shares two tricks to easily remove the petals from the flower heads. First, use your fingers to split the head down the middle, separating the flower from the green parts. Alternatively, you can snip off the green sepals leaving just the petals.
If you don’t have a huge dandelion field nearby (or if it’s just not as abundant this year), you might need to harvest in batches throughout the season, freezing the flowers in the meantime. Luckily, dandelions have a long season, so you could theoretically gather them all season, keeping the extras for winemaking all year round.
Related Post: Dandelions
Freeze the completed flower petals in a bag or jar until you have the full amount needed for your recipe. See below for recipe amounts, you’ll need anywhere from a few cups to 3 quarts, depending on the recipe you follow and the total amount of wine you want to make.
Dandelion Wine Recipes
Like most fermentation projects, there are as many recipes as there are homesteaders! I found three excellent recipes for homemade dandelion wine for beginners, and I’ve shared them below.
Before you get started, you need to make sure you have a few key ingredients:
Ingredients For Dandelion Wine
- Dandelion petals (discard all green parts before measuring, as this will make the wine very bitter)
- Filtered water
- A few oranges
- A few lemons
- Wine Yeast
Basic Tools For Dandelion Wine
- Cutting board and knife for prep
- Stockpot for cooking
- Glass or ceramic crock for fermenting (most recommend a 2-gallon crock)
- Fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth
- Bottles and corks for the finished product
Directions For Making Dandelion Wine
There are lots of great recipes available for homemade dandelion wine, and below I’ve shared the three most clear and comprehensive recipes. They all contain basically the same ingredients, although each blogger uses a slightly different technique.
Commonsense Home: The most detailed description of making dandelion wine, along with supplemental links for bottling and tasting the wine.
Apothecary’s Garden: Offers really detailed prep and fermentation instructions.
Epicurious: Not usually a homestead-focused site, but this recipe is simple to follow and features Meyer lemons, which are my favorite.
How To Enjoy Dandelion Wine
Dandelion wine can be sipped immediately after fermentation, or it can be allowed to ferment further. Many people think the dandelion wine tastes similar to brandy with a warmth typical of wines. The light, bright flavor will bring a sense of spring to those months of less sunshine and cooler temperatures!
Dandelion wine can be drank straight, or it can be mixed with soda water for a spritzer. A few drops of bitters will enhance the medicinal aspects of the wine.
Other Recipes To Make With Dandelions
There are lots of different versions of homemade dandelion wine available. Here are some of the most interesting we found:
Pink Raspberry Dandelion Wine: Raspberries add flavor and a sweet color to this version of dandelion wine.
Dandelion Jelly: Made with just the flowers, this jelly uses sugar and fruit pectin for a honey-like condiment.
Dandelion Root “Coffee”: After you use all the greens for salad, the flowers for wine, then you can dig up the roots to make this nourishing “coffee.”
Dandelion Wine Fruitcake: To make use of the strained flowers and fruit.
And if dandelions don’t interest you, many other flower wines are made in a similar way: lilac wine and elderflower wine are some of the more common. Of course, the same foraging rules apply: Harvest from a clean area, always work with an expert guide, and know 100% what flowers you choose to use and that they can be made into wine this way.