Monday, May 10, 2010

Dandelion Doings

I've been getting some suggestions for doing heavenly things with dandelion greens (look at comments). Unfortunately, I will have to wait until next year to try them out, as our dandelions are now past the tender stage, and in full bloom.

Vermont in dandelion season is almost as sensational as Vermont in a good fall. For a week or so every pasture, and almost every lawn, is covered in gold. It is gorgeous. It is stunning. And I cannot for the life of me figure out why people hate dandelions so much.

It seems a pity to let all those flowers go to waste, so in years past I made dandelion wine. This meant going out with a gallon-size plastic jug and filling it with dandelion blooms--just the yellow part, please. Since this used to take about two hours, I used to let the goats out for company. They would eat bloom after bloom after bloom, as fast as they could, like machines. They were big with child at the time, and I would imagine the kids inside them being showered with golden dandelion mush. It was my favorite moment of the year, me kneeling in the moist grass, picking dandelions until my fingers turned yellow, the goats munching companionably close by.

The goats are gone now, but the dandelions are still here. (BTW, did you know that the French word for dandelion, pissenlit means "pee in the bed"? I thought I should mention that.) If it's sunny tomorrow I'll go out with my gallon jug and pick. This year I am going to try a new recipe, one that uses no yeast, but relies on the flowers and sugar combination to achieve fermentation.

I love the dandelion wine recipes that I find on the web. Many are handed down from West Virginia ancestors, and have weird directions such as "spread yeast on toast." And they call for neat-sounding implements such as "a two-gallon stone crock." Now where in the world would I find such a thing, and is it really made out of stone? Or do they mean "stoneware"?

Last year I didn't make dandelion wine. Instead I made things like lemon balm schnapps, and blueberry cordial. But with both recipes you start with a quart of vodka, and I don't care how much herbal or fruity goodness you infuse it with, that is still a lot of vodka, and I don't find much use for it.

Dandelion wine, on the other hand, while quite alcoholic, is milder and has a flowery, refreshing taste. My friends like it, and so do I. I hope 2010 will be a good year.

3 comments :

  1. Redwing in minnesota makes great stone(ware) crocks. the old ones are quite valuable.

    i've never tasted dandelion wine, but i always imagined that it would taste like sunshine.

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  2. But our word comes from dent de lion, doesn't it? All this time I figured it was the same en francais!

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  3. laurie, it does taste like sunshine, with a kick.

    Indigo, you're right, and I've always wondered why modern French uses pissenlit.

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