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Garden Guru

Use your Dandelions

Jim Boxberger
Posted 5/6/22

Since we are endorsing the “No Mow May” movement and everyone is going to have dandelions blooming this week, I thought I would let you know of a few uses for dandelions.

I got a …

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Garden Guru

Use your Dandelions


Since we are endorsing the “No Mow May” movement and everyone is going to have dandelions blooming this week, I thought I would let you know of a few uses for dandelions.

I got a little nostalgic thinking about way back when my great grandmother ran a boarding house in Callicoon Center. Back in the day when refrigeration hadn’t yet come to the masses and ice boxes were still in fashion my great grandmother would prepare meals of fresh game and vegetables in season and preserved foods during the off season.

Of course I wasn’t around back in the old day, but one thing that does still remain is her old recipe book which was passed down after her passing in 1975. Of course recipes for a boarding house are a little different than the ones you may follow for a dinner for four. Take for example recipes for wine and there are plenty of them.

I don’t have the book in front of me as I write this but I do remember that every wine recipe was for five gallons at a time and the recipe that stood out the most was for dandelion wine. Back then they didn’t have lawn fertilizer with weed killer to control those pesky yellow blooms so they made wine with them instead.

Dandelion wine is made from the flowers, not the leaves of the plant. So once your bees have done their work collecting pollen, you can use the flowers for wine.

Here is one recipe for a gallon of modern day dandelion wine: 1 package (7 g) dried brewing yeast, 1/4 cup warm water, 2 quarts whole dandelion flowers, 4 quarts water, 1 cup orange juice, 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger, 3 tablespoons orange zest, 1 tablespoon lemon zest, 6 cups sugar.

Since dandelion wine is a light wine without body, other ingredients are used to add body. Golden raisins, white grape juice, orange juice and dates can all be used depending on your taste. The lighter the color, the more “true” the dandelion wine will look. Wash and clean the blossoms well. Think of it as a fruit or vegetable; you don’t want bugs or dirt in your food.

Remove all green material and soak flowers for two days. Place the blossoms in the four quarts of water, along with the lime, orange, and lemon juices. Stir in the ginger, orange zest, lemon zest, and sugar. Bring the mix to a boil for an hour. This creates the ‘infusion’ that will later become wine after fermentation.

Strain through filter papers like coffee filters and let the infusion cool down for a while. Stir the yeast in while the infusion is still warm, but below 100 degrees Farenheit. Cover it and leave it alone, let it stand overnight.

Pour it into bottles, poke a few holes in a balloon and place over the tops of the bottles to create an airlock, to keep out unwanted wild yeasts, and store them in a dark place for at least three weeks so that it can ferment. At this point you now have wine, although it may be a little rough. Rack the wine several times.

Racking means waiting until the wine clears, then siphoning or pouring the liquid into another container, leaving the sediment at the bottom of the first container. Since dandelion wine is a lighter wine it will have less sediment to begin with. Cork and store the bottles in a cool place. Allow the wine some time to age.

Most recipes recommend waiting at least six months, preferably a year. Now if I have peaked your interest in wine making, but you don’t have two quarts of dandelions sitting around, you can substitute other fruits in place of the dandelions.

Know matter what you do, you should have a spirited time, pun intended. But wait, there’s more; now you can take those dandelion greens and add them to salads and a number of other uses too. The dried and chopped greens and roots of the dandelion make an herbal tea with potent health benefits.

According to WebMD, dandelion tea helps to boost your immune system, aids in digestive health, reduces imflammation and is an all natural remedy for urinary tract infections. All of this from a weed that we have spent years trying to get out of our yards.


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