Last year I tried to make some Gorse wine out of the gorgeous, yellow, coconut-scented flowers that invade the Wicklow countryside in spring time. I didn’t sterilise the bottles or use the right equipment, so the “wine” tasted distinctly of an old drunk’s wrung-out sock.
In today’s Pricewatch, Conor Pope has some helpful information about home brewing. You can buy kits at a reasonable price and save a fortune on the price of booze in pubs. Follow this advice to get started, and then consider what brews you want to make.
If you like walking or live near the countryside, parkland, or forest you can pick up some free ingredients for your home-made brew: dandelions, nettles, gorse, and coltsfoot can all be used to make alcoholic drinks.
This is a recipe for Dandelion Flower Wine from Edible Plants and Wild Herbs by Pamela Michael. Dandelions flower abundantly in April – mountains, forests, your local park, the green across the road, your own front lawn. And they’re completely free.
Dandelion Flower Wine
Dandelion leaves are sometimes eaten as a salad in France, and it has been used as a food plant and in herbal medicine throughout history. This makes four and a half litres. With the right equipment and by preparing it properly – beware of simple errors like not disinfecting the jars – you can’t go wrong. Irish Craft Brewer is a good website with simple tips.
Now, I haven’t made this myself, but I’m going to give the home brewing another go this summer.
- 3 litres dandelion flowers
- 5 litres waters
- 250g chopped raisin
- 2 oranges
- 1 lemon
- 1.5kgs (3 lbs) sugar
- 2 tablespoons cold tea
- Pick the dandelions on a sunny day and press flowers down lightly
- Remove any green stalks
- Put flowers in a bucket or large bowl and pour on two and a half litres of boiling water
- Cover with a clean cloth and leave to steep for two days, stirring once each day
- On the third day, put the flowers and water in a saucepan, add the zest (but not the white pith) of the oranges and lemons
- Add the sugar, bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves
- Boil for 30 minutes
- Now, remove from the heat and add the raisins, orange and lemon juice into the mix
- Pour on the remaining two and a half litres of water (cold)
- Place in a bucket, cover with a lid, leave till cool, and then stir in the cold tea and leave in a warm place for three days
- Strain the liquid into the fermentation jar, fit the bung and fermentation lock, store carefully, following instructions from your home brew equipment supplier