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.