While dandelions are seen as a weed to many, the flower is actually quite versatile. The leaves add nice bitterness to a summer salad and the petals are great for tea. Dandelion wine has also long been a summer creation of DIYers. As a meadmaker I thought the unique sweet floral taste of the dandelion would work beautifully in a citrusy mead.
Dandelions are in season during late spring/early summer. In the northern hemisphere April and May tend to be the best months to harvest. As a general rule, you will need to pick about 3 quarts of loosely packed flowers for a gallon of mead. This can be a lot of flowers for some, others may have this many in their own lawn. If you can’t gather this many in a single day, you can freeze them until you collect enough. Make sure to pick flowers from areas that you know have not been sprayed with pesticide or weed killer.
This recipe yields 1 gallon of dandelion mead, but can be adjusted for a 5 gallon batch, though that would take a lot of flowers. This recipe is definitely a lobor of love. With the harvesting, and flower prep, it’s one of the most time-consuming meads I’ve ever made. As always, if you let this age for about a year, it will round out very nicely and give you a delicious spring libation to share with friends while celebrating the end of winter!
- 1 gal water
- 3 lbs Wildflower Honey (4 cups)
- 1 tsp Yeast Nutrient
- 1 g Red Star Cote des Blancs
- 1 cup golden raisins (golden raisins will better keep the yellow color of the mead)
- 1.5 pints dandelion petals
- 1 Lemon
- Collect 3 quarts of Dandelion flower heads in full bloom. Rinse any debris off the flower heads.
- Separate the flower petals from the base of the blossoms. Remove as much green flower parts as possible from the petals. These add significant bitterness to the tea.
- In a medium pot, boil 1 gal of water. Add one quart to a mason jar with the petals, and put in the refrigerator to steep for 1 day.
- Remove the rest of the water from heat, wait until the bubbles stop, add honey. Stir until the honey is fully dissolved.
- Add the must, raisins, and yeast nutrient to a sanitized 2 gallon primary fermenter.
- Seal fermentor with airlock and store for a day, until the must cools to about 70 degrees.
- After a day of steeping, strain petals from the dandelion tea and add to fermentor.
- Add the juice and zest of one lemon.
- Aerate the liquid in the fermentor, and add the rehydrated yeast.
- Put the fermentor in a dark place at a temperature of around 70 degrees.
- After 2 weeks, with a siphon, re-rack the mead into a sanitized 1 gallon carboy.
- After 4 weeks, re-rack, then let age for 6 months.
- Fill sanitized bottles and let age for at least 5 more months.
- Drink with friends after the last snow melts to celebrate the beginning of spring!
Just another example of how Dandelions should be valued not treated as a weed
I totally agree Rufus!
I’m new to mead making, and was wondering if regular raisins can be substituted for golden raisins in this mead. Granted, it may not keep the yellow color of the mead if they are regular, but will the nutrient content, etc. be drastically altered if I use regular over gold? Thanks for your reply!
Go for it, it will work out fine!
Thanks! We’re about to re-rack the mead now that it’s hit the 2 week mark… wondering if the raisins need to be racked each time as well… not sure how that would work… thanks for your assistance, since I’m new to this! 🙂
No need to re-rack the raisins. They are there in the early stages to provide some nutrient for the yeast.
Awesome! Many thanks. Since I’m new to mead making and am used to making ales, I’m a bit concerned that I’m not sure much fermenting or bubbling taking place. Wondering if I should pitch more yeast. I did happen to have two packets of expired Cotes de Blanc but I doubled the batch just to be safe. Any recs on pitching more yeast? Will that harm anything? Really appreciate the feedback!
Hey! Thanks to you for engaging! Did you notice any bubbling early in the fermentation? If not, feel free to pitch more yeast to help your fermentation along.
I did notice a bit of bubbling, and when I racked the mead into the secondary fermenter it was obvious that some fermentation took place because there were lees on the bottom. I just had assumed I would see similar bubbling or at least a layer of “foam” or what not on the top of the mead in the secondary fermenter (it’s a clear carboy that I have covered in a dark area) but I haven’t. I’ve been reading up on it and perhaps it may be “stuck fermentation” in the secondary fermenter? I didn’t know if pitching more yeast when I rack it a second time would be safe or not, I guess it wouldn’t hurt right? Thanks again for the continuing conversation!
It sounds like it was fermenting fine. Different yeasts have different intensities of fermentation. Also, If you aerate the must a lot, fermentation tends to be more vigorous and visible.
Thanks! I was a bit nervous, so decided to troubleshoot and take a hydrometer reading. It seemed sort of low and I felt perhaps more honey could be fermented, so I added another culture. I guess the worst case scenario it makes a drier wine! Appreciate all the helpful tips. Really am enjoying this challenge!
I’m excited to try this recipe out! Got the dandelions harvested (I think I have more than the recipe calls for, like maybe double? not sure if I should use them all for added flavor or not…). I got some raw honey from a local producer, a “dark” honey with fairly strong flavor; I plan to keep it raw and not heat it past 110 F. I’m just waiting for the yeast and nutrient to arrive in the mail.
I ordered the Cote des Blancs, but I’m considering using Cuvee instead because I’d prefer the end product to be pretty dry, but I’m a little afraid to mess with the recipe too much since I’m not very experienced (this will be my second mead; I have a cyser that is almost finished fermenting). I’m also thinking of leaving in a bit of the green from the dandelions to keep a bit of the bitterness.
Very cool Wayne. Glad you’re experimenting, and exploring new ways to tweak the recipe!
Go ahead and use all the dandelions you picked. I think with the more robust honey, it’s actually good to use more flowers since your honey flavors are most likely stronger than what I used.
The cote des Blancs finishes in the dry side, but go ahead and give the cuvée a shot. The cuvée is a beast and will dry it out completely.
Let me know how it goes!
I decided that since I have extra honey and extra dandelions (I measured and I have about two quarts of just petals; my kid is a good helper!) I’m going to make one batch sticking with the recipe and two experimental half-gallon batches: one slightly modified and one bochet that includes the entire plant to add bitterness (I did some looking around and found beer recipes that use dandelion plants for bittering instead of hops; I’m hoping for sort of a stout-style mead). I might be getting a little crazy with the experimentation for as little experience as I have, but half a gallon isn’t a big loss if it turns out nasty. I’m thinking I should have bought a hydrometer when I bought the yeast though, so I could keep better track of the experiment. I’ll keep you posted!
I racked the gallon (original) batch today. It’s been about a month, I just didn’t get around to doing it after two weeks like the recipe said. Before I racked it, it was beautifully clear. I did stir up a little bit of sediment in the racking so it’s not quite as clear now, but I’m sure that will precipitate out again soon. I took a hydrometer reading and it was 1.000, I didn’t expect it to get that low, so I’m glad I didn’t end up going with the cuvee! I didn’t have the hydrometer when I started the batch so I don’t know what the original gravity was. It tasted pretty good and I look forward to tasting it after aging. I think the only thing I changed about the recipe was using regular raisins. I figured since I was using dark honey anyway, the raisins wouldn’t make much difference. Even with the darker colors though, I was surprised at how light and clear it ended up.
For the two half-gallon batches I ended up going with the Cote des Blancs just because I already had the package open and didn’t want to open up a cuvee package just to use part of it (and I’m glad I went that way with it). For each of these two I halved the recipe and made a couple of modifications. For the bochet I cooked the honey until it was as dark as I could get it. I used the lemon juice but left out the zest. In addition to the dandelion petals I also used about 1 cup of dandelion roots and leaves, and I added 8 peppercorns. After two weeks I racked it and tasted some, and it actually came closer to tasting like a stout than I wanted it to. It tasted like some of the sweeter, more syrupy porters I’ve tried, anyway (not my favorite). It also tasted a bit like wet leaves… I was a little worried, but a little more than a week later I took a hydrometer reading and it was at 1.04, and the flavor had improved immensely! A lot more of the burnt honey flavor was coming through, and the wet leaf flavor was gone. I think it’s going to be amazing after aging. I’m calling this recipe Lion’s Rest (based on your recipe’s name and a suggestion from my wife).
There isn’t a whole lot to say about the other half batch. Pretty much the only difference between it and the original is that it included dandelion roots and leaves that had been steeping for about 5 days. At two weeks its hydrometer reading was 1.066 and it tasted pretty good. I haven’t done anything with it since then (I haven’t even racked it yet, I still need to do that).
Awesome Wayne! thanks for adding this great information!
Hello all. I just came across this recipe and I’m curious to know if anyone has ever tried adding the flowers into secondary and/or tertiary? I have a batch of sweet mead that I’m looking to play around with and I think this may be interesting. Would the flavors steep well enough in the alcohol?
Hello: We just popped a mead we made in 1997 in Washington state. Moved to MN and forgot about the mead. Discovered it last week and were concerned that the mead had gone bad because of the amount of sediment. But, much to our surprise the Gorsch bottles with rubber seals had worked magic and the mead looked and acted like champagne, tasted semi-sweet but the last glass was dark due to the sediment. The remaining bottles will be shared with friends this weekend. Thanks for the comment section to your site. Darrell
Thinking about doing this but instead of a mead gonna use a bochet.
That sound like it would be amazing!
Looks like this will be my first attempt at a Mead. Will let you know how it turns out. Just started wine making in November of 2017 Those have turned out well. Then some one mentioned Mead and well here we are.
Dandelion tea tasted like chamomile to me. Can you combine the two?
Hello, I’m new to mead making & currently have 6 different ones going. One is a dandelion mead that was the second one I made. Just to be clear, you’re ONLY using the tea in the primary, not the petals , is this correct? The mead I made was made similar to this one, but, I think the dandelion flavor was waaay in the background, where I thought it should’ve been a lot stronger. Looking @ your recipe, I didn’t steep mine for nearly as long as I should have. I will however be revamping that come next spring. Thank you, in advance, for any time you take to respond.
[…] about wine. The dandelion wine connection comes more from Ray Bradbury’s excellent book. This link jumps to a dandelion mead recipe. If you homebrew, give it a try. Maybe share […]