Herbal Flower Wine
by Susun Weed
Equipment you will need:
6 or more 750ml wine bottles (reused is fine, no need to buy)
8 or more real corks of a size to fit your bottles (reused is fine, no need to buy)
1 or 2 wire-porcelain-closure beer bottles (reused is fine, no need to buy)
1 food thermometer
1 two-gallon crock or large, non-metallic container
1 thin cotton or linen kitchen towel capable of covering the opening of the container
1 rubber band adequate to the circumference of the container
3-6 filters of some sort, coffee filters will do, as will thin, clean, natural-fiber material
12 sticky-back labels and a water-proof marker (such as a Sharpie)
A cool, still place away from light and heat to age your wine
Pick 3-5 quarts/liters of blossoms and green part appending to them of any edible flower (I have used dandelion, wild carrot, red clover, violet, even yarrow).
As soon as you return with your harvest of flowers, place them in your 2 gallon/8 liter crock and immediately put 5 quarts/liters of water up to boil. Pour the boiling water over the blossoms and cover, holding the cloth in place with the rubber band. Stir daily for three days.
On the fourth day, strain the liquid into a saucepan and put the blossoms in the compost. Add 3 pounds/1.5 kg white sugar and the peel of one organic lemon and one organic orange to the liquid and heat to boiling. (Because organic citrus is often unavailable or very expensive during the summer when I am making wine, I dehydrate the peels of organic citrus and use them in my wine making.)
Simmer for 30-60 minutes. Pour everything into crock. Add the juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon. (I use bottled organic lemon juice. If you can't get organic citrus, omit the peel in the previous step and use whatever citrus juice you have in this step.)
Cool to blood temperature. (Use a thermometer; cool to 98-100 degrees Fahrenheit.) (It will take hours.)
Then, soften 1 package/8 grams or one block of live yeast in a little bit of barely warm water, toast 1 piece of whole wheat bread, spread the softened yeast onto the toast, and float the toast on the liquid in the crock. Cover and rubber band.
Every few hours, put your ear against the crock and listen. After a while, you will hear the yeast making magic, you will hear it working. Let this go on for about two days from the time you first hear it. This is the primary fermentation.
Strain the liquid and return it to the crock. Cover and let it work for one more day.
Filter again and fill your bottles to the bottom of their necks. Put a balloon over the top of the neck of each, even the ones with wire closures. Secondary fermentation will take place in the bottles and can become so intense that it can break the glass of tightly closed bottles.
When the balloons seem limp, anywhere from 1-3 months later, remove them and close the bottles with corks (soak them overnight in water to soften them) or their wire/ceramic stoppers.
Label and store in a cool, dark place for at least six months, better a year or more. I was given some 25 year old dandelion wine ten years ago. As they age, the flower wines become more like sherry.