Mother Nature might be an alcoholic. I mean, why else would she have created sooo many ways for us to inebriate our bodies? Think about it: grapes, barley, wheat, hops -- malt liquor?! (What is that made out of anyway?) The natural possibilities are endless.
But if you're sick of all of those traditional methods, and have a little Martha Stewart-slash-Bob Vila in you, try your hand at making wine out of a common weed: dandelions.
Doing it is quite simple -- once you've collected two quarts of dandelions, of course. When you've got them and you've made sure they've never been sprayed with any pesticides, pluck off the stems and gather them all in a ceramic bowl -- ceramic being the key word here.
Bring a gallon of water to a boil, and then dump it into the bowl with the flowers. Immediately cover it tight with plastic wrap. Let it sit for two days, but stir it twice each day. After the two days have passed, dump the contents of the bowl into a pot and bring it to a boil. While the mixture boils, add in the peels of two oranges, two lemons, some honey and a pound each of white sugar and dark brown sugar. Boil that for one hour. I know, I know... boil, boil, boil! But it'll all pay off.
Return your mixture to the ceramic bowl again, and then add the juice and pulp of your lemons and oranges to the mixture. Now, leave it alone until it cools. That's when you'll throw a package of dry yeast into the mix, and then cover 'er up again for three days.
When the three days are up, strain the yucky-looking mixture and then put it into a fermentation vessel -- also known as a wine bottle. Before you cork it, add in about a pound of golden raisins.
Making dandelion wine requires minimal equipment -- only a set of bottles and an air lock, which can be found at any homebrew store. Recipe variations including raspberries and cloves can be found all over the Web.
The tricky part is waiting six months to a year for the wine to ferment. Still, the wait will be worth it when you pop a bottle of your wine on a cold winter night and remember that summer is just around the corner.
Publication date: 06/10/04