Dandelion mead is one way to use what you have on hand–because most homeowners have a ready supply of dandelions. For an equally delicious fermented beverage recipe, read How to Make Flavored Kombucha.
Dandelions are prolific bloomers. While your neighbors are cursing them and trying their best to get rid of them, you can be harvesting them for delicious honey wine. Dandelion mead has immune boosting qualities. I make a double batch every spring while the dandelions are blooming, and then set it aside for winter. The six months between May and November is just about the perfect time for dandelion mead to age, for its best flavor. A full year is even better, if you can wait that long.
Some folks insist that you have to use only the petals and discard the green calyx or your dandelion mead will taste bitter. Most of these folks make up the must and leave the must sitting with the dandelion flowers in it for a week. This recipe is a little different.
In this recipe, you’ll make a very strong decoction of dandelion flowers, including the green calyx, but you’ll only steep them for an hour or two. So go ahead and leave the green calyx on the flowers, and save yourself some time. The mead is sweet and fresh and the green calyx adds to the medicinal benefits. There is no bitter after taste.
Oh, and don’t worry about leaving some dandelions for the bees. The day after you harvest all you can possibly use, the field will be full of blossoms once again, as each plant sends up more flowers.
Only harvest dandelions from places where you know for sure they haven’t been sprayed with poisons. And be sure the plants are growing at least 25 feet from a road or highway. If you are harvesting on someone else’s private land be sure to ask permission. If you are harvesting on government land, check your local government regulations. Ideally you’ll have enough dandelions in your own backyard for this recipe.
Dandelion Mead Recipe
Yeild: Four 750ml bottles
• 8 cups of dandelion flowers
• 1 cup of lemon balm tops
• ½ cup of strawberry leaves
• Zest and juice of 2 lemons
• 1 cup of raisins
• 1/3rd package of champagne yeast
• 4 cups plus one teaspoon of local honey
• 2 – 1 gallon glass jugs
• A funnel
• A strainer
• 1 wine siphon and tube
• 1 fermentation lock with drilled rubber stopper that fits the top of the glass jug (size #6)
• 4 to 5 spring lock wine bottles 750ml each or normal wine bottles with corks
• Wine corker (if using corks)
• 8 quart stock pot
• Metal strainer or sieve
Gather the dandelion flowers while they are open. Wash dandelion flowers, lemon balm tops, and strawberry leaves and run them through a salad spinner to remove as much water as possible. Cut up the leaves and use dandelion flowers whole. In a stock pot, bring 1 ½ gallons of water to a boil. Once it is boiling rapidly put the flowers and leaves in the pot. Shut off the heat. Add the raisins, lemon zest and juice. Don’t add the honey or the yeast yet.
Cover the pot and let the mixture steep until the temperature drops to about 110°F. Strain the plant material to get all the liquid out. Discard the plant material. Reserve the liquid. Take 1 cup of the liquor and add 1 teaspoon of honey. Stir to dissolve the honey. Sprinkle 1/3rd of a package of champagne yeast over the top of the liquor in the cup measure. Set it aside until the yeast bubbles up.
Meanwhile, clean and sanitize one of the glass jugs, the stopper and fermentation lock, and the funnel. Everything that comes in contact with the wine should be cleaned and sanitized before use, to insure a good ferment.
Into the remaining liquor, stir in the remaining 4 cups of honey, until completely dissolved. When the liquor is cooled to 100 °F, and the wine yeast is bubbly and active, stir the wine yeast into the liquor. Pour into one of the glass jugs. Cap with a fermentation lock and set aside to ferment.
After four weeks, once the fermentation has slowed down, siphon the mead from the first jug into the second jug, leaving any dregs in the first jug. The dregs are the scum that is left over at the bottom of the jug. Wash the jug and put it away till later. This will clean the dregs out of the jug. Sanitize the fermentation lock and put it on the second jug that is now holding your mead. Set the jug aside.
This should activate the fermentation again and allow the mead to clear. After three to four more weeks, the fermentation will slow down. You can check this by gently shaking the jug with the mead. If the mead foams up and forms a head of foam on top of your mead, wait two more weeks and check again. The actual time will vary depending on your ambient temperature.
When the fermentation stops, transfer the mead to the first jug once again. Remember to sanitize this jug before you transfer the mead to it. At this point I usually cap the jug with a twist cap rather than the fermentation lock.
If you were making regular wine instead of mead, this is the point that you would bottle your wine. However, mead is a little different. Sometimes it will appear that the fermentation has stopped only to start up again a week later. So at this point I check for signs of fermentation by untwisting the twist cap every 24 to 48 hours. If I hear a hiss, indicating that there is pressure inside the jug, I let the pressure off and check again in a day or two.
After there are no indications of pressure build up inside the jug, wait at least 10 more days checking every day or two. After this, it is safe to bottle your mead.
When you are ready to bottle, siphon mead from the jug into each wine bottle. Leave any dregs in the wine jug. Complete the caps or corks. Label and date your dandelion mead. Set aside for at least six months before drinking. Dandelion mead will be good in December, with a strong honey flavor. It will be even better the following May.
Check out the other Mead Recipes on the FermenTools Blog
Airlocks used in creating your dandelion mead can be purchased in the Fermentools store. While you’re there, check out the other great products created to help make all your fermenting endeavors successful.