Dandelion mead – putting those weed to good use

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dandelion field

Dandelion – making that lawn annoyance into golden drops

Dandelion is a scourge for many lawn-lovers. Nothing messes up that perfect green carpet than this lone wolf who just pops up in the middle of it all, completely ruining this perfect green oasis of tranquility. And when they start coming .. you know the Dandelion is there to stay. So what do we do?
We make dandelion mead!

Pick those dandelions.. don’t be shy…

Dandelion single

This mead is best to prepare for in those easily summer mornings where nature is at its finest.
I guess their exact blossoming depends a little on where you are in the world, but if you are unsure, just consult your local botanist or herbalist.
The herbalists will also tell you fresh dandelions are great or more than just Mead. You can make tea also, and I know people who swear to them as part of their salads.
For a closer look at all the goodness dandelion does to you, head over to Wellnessmama and have a look there.

Back to our summer adventure. Now the secret to this recipe is, of course, the amounts of dandelions. Not the flower but, but the petals. And I’m nearly sorry to say, but this recipe will make you work for it. For this batch ( 5 Liter) you will have to go and pick some 0.75liter dandelion flower petals. Not haphazardly left into this measurement, but semi-hard packed … I’d say it around 400 gram altogether, but honestly, I’ve stuck to the 0.75Litre, and rarely any weight measurement –  Not on this one.

The mead-recipe itself

This recipe is based on a 5  Liter batch, as most of the recipes I share in Viking-mjod are.

4 liter water
1 liter honey ( i like to use a pure summer-flower honey, locally sourced of course )
750 ml Dandelion flower petals
250ml raisins

1 pk Red star Cote des Blanc Dry Yeast
1.5 gr WYEAST Yeast nutrients
1 small lemon ( juice thereof)

Steps to success

Making dandelion extractFor this recipe, I like to cook up one liter of water first.
I take half a liter of it, pour it into a container where the dandelion petals are already gathered, and then let it stand (covered) in the fridge overnight.

The rest of the cooking water, I use along with the yeast nutrient. I use only HALF of the 1,5 gr in the first-day primary, as I have much success with staggered nutrition on this Dandelion beauty.
The hot water is mixed with 3 more liters of water, then I mix in the honey.
The amount of honey might differ a little, but if you’re into measuring your Original Gravity, we aim for around 1.109 OG.
The reason for this somewhat stepping of water-honey-water, is to get the temperature of the must down to around to the Yeast’s comfort zone, which from manufacturer states 10-26 Degree Celcius. I like to keep the must around 18-20 Degree for this recipe.
Remember the raisins? I always submerge them in some scolding hot water, just to make sure any wild yeast or any bacteria is killed off.
I then add the raisins to the must.
A starter is made on the yeast, to ensure good fermentation for the mead. Just use the normal procedures for a good yeast starter – or check out the video linked here.

Pitch it like a pro

So, then we pitch the starter right into the must.  As I have gotten a BrewFerm Aerator kit, I let the mead aerate for 4-5 minutes the first day of fermentation.
I like to let the fermentation start and get going for one day before I add the dandelions extract the next day.
So – a day after pitch, the fermentation is well underway. This is when I take the Dandelion tea out of the fridge. Remember – we are using the extract / Tea we made from the petals, not the petals themselves. In this tea, I mix in the juice of the lemon, and the remaining yeast nutrient. This tea is then stepped into the must, 1/3 part at the time. I usually do this just before I go to work, right after I come home from work, and at the end of the day.
An important part now is to also areate at the second tea-pitch. This helps the mead in its fermentation and works like staggered nutrition.
So far this has worked wonders for me.

Bubble bobble – brew, my little baby

The mead is then set to ferment for 2-3 weeks. If you haven’t already put an airlock to the brew, this is the time to do so. No more oxygen for this baby.
Now you can literally set the brew somewhere nice and dark, for as long as its stable temperature. I like to have it around 18-20 degrees – preferably closer to 18. Leave the must till fermentation is significantly reduced.

After 2-3 weeks, it should be ready to rack to secondary. A note on the potential use of Bentonite. It’s fully possible to use Bentonite as a clarifying agent in this brew. If you want to use Bentonite, I suggest you actually use it in primary fermentation.

CArboy for fermentationFor secondary, rack the now nearly finished brew into a 5-liter glass carboy, re-set the airlock, and let sit for another 4-6 weeks. We aim for a Final Gravity of around 1.020, which should give us a comfortable 12% ABV. If the brew gets too dry, we can back sweeten it, but I suggest cold crashing immediately after, to avoid secondary fermentation.
After the secondary, you can either rack to tertiary, or directly to bottle. I like to run this through a filter, to make sure any and all bentonite is out, and I get more out of the brew.
I suggest aging your now ready mead at least 6 months, preferably 12 months. This golden, lovely drink is well worth the wait. Dandelion mead – yummy…

Høvdingen
Høvdingen
Høvdingen - Norwegian for Chieftain, is the nickname of the main author on Viking-mjod.no This is a guy who despite having a full job at a normal company, dedicate all his free time to the pursuit of Viking knowledge, especially the use of natural ingredients in food and drinks. This is not to say that this guy is an expert on the subject - just very very interested ... Mead is one of the main interests, but the poor guy, this Chieftain - he has for some odd reason more an interest in the flavors, and less in the effect the alcohol has. Therefore- most of the mead he makes throughout the year - and that could be quite a lot - ends up with his VERY happy friends... ( and no .. there's no waiting list to be new mead-tasters ....)