I have found this recipe in the Complete Farmhouse and Kitchen book ISBN 0-00-411256-3. I intend to have a go at it and am posting it now so that you can get the practicalities and the pre-planning in hand in order to make this country wine. And being as it says that St George's Day is the traditional day for making this particular wine I thought it might be a nice project to actually make on St Georges Day. One to diary note!
The wine is described as an inxepensive easily made wine with an attractive yellow colour, nice bouquet and a pleasant flavour. It is classed as a medium sweet wine. If ye gather your Dandelions or pis en lit on St Georges Day and make the wine it should supposedly be ready for Christmas, so it may be worth making a demi john or two.
2.25 litres/4 pints of dandelion flowers
4.5 litres/1 gallon of boiling water
125g/4oz of dates
1 heaped teaspoon of yeast nutrient
Yeast says Sauturnes yeast but I think any of the yeasts work particurlarly well.
Before you even make this wine locate a field or hedgerow that is free from petrol fumes that has a lot of Dandelions in.
Gather your equipment together in readiness and as you are making one batch it works out economical to do a couple of batches. This recipe makes 1 gallon of wine.
Two days before St Georges Day make up your Yeast Starter as follows:
175ml/6 fl oz water
1 dessertspoon of malt extract
1 dessertspoon of sugar
a pinch of citric acid
a pinch of yeast nutrient
The yeast as directed in the recipe
1. Put water in a small pan, stir in the malt extract, sugar and citric acid. Bring to the boil, then turn off the heat.
2. Cool this solution a little, then pout into a small pop bottle 300ml/1/2 a pint. Plug the neck of the bottle with cotton wool and cool to below 70 degrees F, 21 degrees C.
3. Add chosen yeast. If it is a liquid yeast culture shake the phial before emptying into the bottle. Replace cotton wool plug and leave in a warm place.
4. The yeast will ferment vigorously and be ready to use in 2 to 3 days.
TO MAKE THE ACTUAL WINE
For the wine: Pick flowers on a sunny day so that the heads are fully open and gazing into the sun. DO NOT PICK from a busy roadside where they will have been sprayed with mud and dosed with exhaust fumes.
Pull off the green calyx on the back of the flower (the pad at the back where the stem joins the head) from most of the flowers and discard.
Put the flowers into a polythene fermenting bucket pour over boiling water. Let the flowers soak for 4 days stirring daily.
Strain the liquid discarding the flower heads.
Slice the orange and lemon, chop the dates and add them to the liquid with 1lb of sugar, yeast nutrient and the actively working yeast starter.
Cover bin loosely with a cloth or a lid. This keeps out the dust and any flies but lets the must breathe. Leave it in a warm place for 7 days, stirring daily.
On the third day add a second 1lb of sugar.
On the fifth day add remaining 1lb of sugar
On the seventh day strain through muslin or a net curtain and a nylon strainer into a 1 gallon jar filling the demijohn to the neck. Put any left over juice into a small bottle. Top up the jar with water as necessary.
Fit an airlock or cover top with a piece of polythene secured with a rubber band. Cover small bottle in the same way.
Keep jar and bottle in a warm place 60 degrees to 65 degrees F, 16 degrees to 18 degrees C for two or three months.
After 2 or 3 months, rack off into a clean demijohn i.e. syphon the wine off the sediment (the lees). Top up jar with spare wine from the bottle, or with cold water. Refit airlock or cover as before. Be sure to taste wine in small bottle before using in case it has gone off.
Rack again after another two to three months.
By Christmas or approximately 8 months after making wine it should be ready to drink.
When the wine is stable and clear it can be bottled. Thoroughly wash and sterilise 6 bottles. Syphon wine into the bottles. If you want to keep the wine cork the bottles with straight sided corks and lay them down on their sides in a wine rack. if it is going to be used in a few months use flanged type corks but leave the bottles standing upright.