As all of you should know by now my New Years Resolution was to learn more about and try to make fermented foods and drinks. So far, I have learned to make sauerkraut ( Toms family has made it for years so I had a lot of help on that one) and now wine. There are several others I want to do like brine pickles, pickled beets ( I love these and have made them before) and maybe if time allows yogurt and farmer cheese. The items I am making are in the order of availability. Dandelions are everywhere so this just made sence to use for my first wine project. I Have already posted about the equipment needed for this project and you can find them at preparations for Dandelion wine making part 1. In this post I will cover the ingredients and steps to get you through fermentation and the next post will cover racking and bottling and ageing.
After gathering your equipment and washing everything and sanitizing it (I use a store-bought cleaner that has a chlorine base but does not taste like it) your carboy, funnel and buckets are ready to collect the needed flowers of Dandelions.
We collected about 4 quarts of flowers that day,enough for my recipe that calls for 1 quart of flower petals to every gallon of wine. I was hoping to make about 3 gallons of wine this time.
After picking you need to remove any of the green that is still attached to the petals. Things like the stem and base of the flower. If you do not remove them they will give the wine a bitter after taste. I sat on the back porch cleaned the flowers for about an hour. This is the hardest part of the process and the most time-consuming. When finished I had Three quarts of very nice petals with very few green leaves mixed in.
I rinsed the flowers and tossed them around to make sure I had no full flowers that Christopher had been playing with on the porch or any bugs or leaves in the batch. I then heated about two gallons of water on the stove until a slow boil. Then poured the hot water over the petals in a five gallon bucket. Letting this mixture sit covered for 2 or 3 days. Making the tea we will need to make the wine.
After three days I strained the tea throw a fine sieve that you saw in the top post getting almost every petal out. This made a nice yellow tea that is the base for the wine.
To this tea, I added my fruit, spices, water, Campden tablets and sugar.
The first thing I added was a half a gallon of water…. I will be adding more later and some apple juice.
The fruit I am using are for flavor more than anything. Citrus fruit does not ferment fast or easy but it does add the acidity that you need for good flavor. My recipe calls for 1 lemon and 3 oranges . I add them and 1 box ( 2 1/2 cups) of white raisins to the tea. The raisins provide a nice flavor and a nutrient base for the yeast to grown on. I Also add 2 cups of 100% apple juice for the same reason as the raisins. At this time I also add spices to the tea. I use cinnamon sticks and whole cloves. I love mulled wine so I just thought I would save myself a step an add the spices into the wine, just a personal preference here.
Now lets talk about the Campden tablets for a second, They stop wild yeast growth and lots of bacteria and sanitize your wine, they help to remove chlorine and other water additives. I used filtered bottled water for my wine but if you use tap water this will help remove the flavor. My easy to fallow rule is one tablet for 1 gallon of wine. I Crushed and added them to the tea and fruit mixture to kill any wild yeast that could be growing on the fruit.Wild yeast loves over ripe fruit so do not use it as it could turn the wine you are working so hard to make into a nice rotten batch of vinegar. Stopping the wild yeast also lets you introduce the type of yeast you want for wine making. You can certainly use regular old bread yeast to make wine but if you want to make the best tasting wine it is better to use a yeast for your type of wine. Also Campen tablets let you control the length of fermentation better. You know when you add the yeast and how much yeast, rather than letting wild yeast control you. So adding the tablets now stops any strange bacteria and yeast growth that you may have accidentally added to your brew and you start out with a nice clean fresh product to add the Montrachet yeast to. You should add the Campden tablets at least 24 hours before adding the yeast.
The next and most messy is adding the sugar that the yeast will have to convert into alcohol. The general rule is 4 cups sugar per gallon of wine. In my case I added twelve cups of sugar to the tea and then took a measurement with a tool for wine making called a hydrometer.This is a way to measure the sugar content in the wine and project alcohol level of the wine after fermentation. They are a complex tool and you may want to learn more about how to use all the things they can do. The tool is also used in beer and liquor making.
After taking the reading off the hydrometer I went to the included chart and 1.09 specific gravity = dry wine and we wanted something a little sweeter so I needed a specific gravity around 1.11 to 1.14, sweet wine runs 1.15 to 1.17. I measured in at 1.10 so with 12 cups of sugar I was low for the sweetness I was looking for.My projected alcohol count was to low also at about 8%. We need more sugar to make a product that was med-sweet and had an alcohol content of 12%. So I added 4 more cups of sugar, mixing them in two at a time and taking a measurement each time.My final product was 1.130 specific gravity and projected alcohol content a little high at 14%. I will adjust the alcohol content later at bottling by adding water to the mixture to reach the exact amount of alcohol in the batch if that is a concern. Since this is a home-made batch it will not matter too much as I am not selling this in the retail market.
Now that we have added all of our flavorings to the tea, the half gallon of water, the campden tablets, and almost ten pounds of sugar to the tea, we are ready to let this mixture sit for about 48 hours.This steeps the raisins and spices flavor into the tea/sugar mixture. This also gives the campden tablets time to kill any wild yeast before adding in the my wine yeast.
So two to three days later I open up my bucket and see this.
The mixture is ready for yeast and getting the fermentation started.
To get the yeast ready I placed 2 cups warm water in a measuring cup with a thermometer and looked for a temperature between 100 degrees and 105 degrees. I opened the package of yeast and dumped it into the water, mixed and waited for the yeast to get frothy, around ten minutes. I then add it to my bucket of fruit and tea and mixed well. The tea will start to bubble very shortly after adding the yeast.
I got my yeast off the internet from northernbrewer.com a nice med to dry wine yeast that can handle higher amounts of alcohol. Yeast will eventually die from too much alcohol.This one is good up to 13 % alcohol per volume, table wine is usually 12% and home-brew is usually about 14% if you like a sweeter wine higher if you like a dryer wine. We are hoping for an alcohol percent about 12%. I also bought my campen tablets, air lock, bottles and other supplies at this website.
This bubbly frothy mixture we now need to strain out of the “primary” ferment container into the “Secondary” or Carboy bottle. I just took a slotted spoon and pulled out the larger pieces of fruit and spices then strained the remaining tea mixture through a muslin fruit straining bag over my funnel. Get a large one if you hope to make other fruit wines or jelly this one is a med size and would have worked better if it was just a little bigger.
Now remove the funnel and add a universal bunghole with an hole and the air lock itself.
Fill the airlock half way with water to allow for the Co2 to escape and to prevent air from entering the bottle. Again you do not want any wild yeast or germs or bugs into the wine.With in just minutes of moving this bottle to its hiding place it began to move the water in the air lock into one side of the tubes and was bubbling out Co2 out the top.Within hours our home was about 72 degrees and the bubbling was constant.
I placed the “secondary” carboy under my kitchen counter. It is out of the families way and in the shade from the sun. Ten days from now I can taste a nip and do another check with my hydrometer to see if all the sugar is gone and to see what % of alcohol we have. If I hit 14% we know that we are at the end of fermentation.
The next post at the end of the ten days will be about racking the wine and bottling it. This is the final steps in the process and then ageing the wine about 6 months to a year in recommended.
Here is my recipe for Dandelion wine
16 cups of sugar ( about ten pounds)
2 1/2 gallons filtered water, two cups warm water for yeast
3 quarts dandelion petals. We picked about 4 to get this
2 1/2 cup golden raisins… or one box
2 cups apple juice
2 cinnamon sticks
20 whole cloves
1 packet powered wine yeast
3 campden tablets
and fallow the above directions…
Thank you for stopping by this is my most exciting project of the year.Hope you enjoy it as much as I have making it!