Monday, April 26, 2010

Dandelion and Other Wines

The dandelions have been popping their blooms two weeks ahead of time. I went out today to harvest two quarts of petals for a gallon (five bottles) of wine.

It's a lot of work. I'm not clear how I was able to do two batches of wine last year. Maybe I just don't have the energy I had in early May last year. Maybe my biological clock is not in sync with the early warm weather here (though it still gets cool at night).

It's important to get full-blown yellow bloom for the most flavor. You don't want to get any green leaves or stems mixed in with them either or you'll have bitter wine. I have some small scissors that are just perfect to clip the petals and leave the stem and all the little green leaves that form the outside of the blossom bud behind.

It seems this year that the blooms are smaller. Many are closer to quarters rather than being bigger than loonies. That means nearly twice as many blooms are needed to make two quarts.

I'm hoping I get good elderflowers this year. You only need twenty bloom heads to make a gallon of wine. Easy-peasy compared to the two thousand or so dandelion blooms I clipped!

Then there's rhubarb. It makes a wine that you can combine with other wines and it will take on their flavor. I know that rhubarb ade made with an elderflower in it tastes divine. Or possibly with a spearmint wine -- if my spearmint spreads like the peppermint does. (Peppermint I prefer for tea.)

All something to think about as I have a glass of rhubarb ade (from last year's concentrate) and read some of The DaVinci Code in the sun outside.

Is This Really April?

It was unseasonally warm where we were on vacation: highs in the nineties (Fahrenheit) in Williamsburg, Virginia the last three days we were there. It was unseasonally warm here in Peterbrough as well. We came back the Wednesday after Easter. I hastily uncovered the garlic and the herbs. I got out the heat mat and began sprouting seeds.

It's now the last week of April. Our grass could really use a cut. The rhubarb is almost ready to pick. The dandelions are ready to pick for wine -- it wasn't until Mother's Day last year that they were ready. By Mother's Day this year they will be all fluff and gone.

I've got strawberries blossoming. I covered them one night we had frost so they wouldn't all die. Will I finally get red currents this year? I don't know. It looks like the bush is blossoming but I'm hoping it's not done it too soon.

I put my tomato seedlings in the green house -- after I fixed the vent lifter. Without venting, the inside temperature easily tops 100 F.

As far as April showers bringing any May flowers ... we haven't had any rain for nearly two weeks. The one rain we did have only half-filled one of my two rain barrels.

At least I'm not worrying that the hose will freeze overnight. It's just not getting that cold.