Dandelion Blossom Wine

The late Edna Lewis was a Southern-cooking legend. She grew up in a small farming community in Virginia. In The Taste of Country Cooking (Alfred A. Knopf 1990), she wrote that in the very early spring, she would see her neighbors picking dandelions. For winemaking, she wrote, they had to be picked before noon. After that, the blossoms would close up tight. The wine was drunk at breakfast. This is adapted from her recipe.

1 gallon open dandelion blossoms

5 quarts boiling, noncarbonated water

3 1/2 pounds sugar

Pick dandelion blossoms far away from polluted areas, in clear, open fields.

Have at hand a good, clean stone crock or Pyrex container, because you will be pouring boiling water over the blossoms and a glass jar will crack and spoil your blossoms.

Pick over the blossoms. See to it that there are no spiders or bugs in them. Rinse. Drop the blossoms into the crock and pour the boiling water over them. Cover with a clean white napkin and let stand for three days where it's not too cold.

Strain through a thin, clean, odor-free cloth into a clean glass jar. Add the sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Cover again with a clean cloth and leave in the kitchen in a warm, draft-free place for three weeks. Then strain into clean, dry jars, filling up to the top. Tie a clean cloth over the mouth of each jar and leave to finish fermenting, which will take about four months, or until the wine stops being effervescent. Then strain carefully into clean bottles, leaving behind any sediment that settles on the bottom. Fill the bottles nearly full and cork tightly. Store in a dry, dark place.

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