We've had an odd mix of weather here in Western Washington these past few weeks. Torrential downpours interspersed with gorgeous sunshine and freezing overnight temperatures. Mother Nature's seasonal schizophrenia has tricked many a plant into popping up early, only to be zapped by frost. Of the nettles, daffodils, fiddleheads and dandelions, believe it or not, the one that I am most excited about this year is the much-maligned dandelion.
The dandelion, or Taraxacum Officinale, is so named because once upon a time, the raggedly-toothed leaves reminded someone of a lion's tooth or dent de lion. Like pretty much everyone else on the planet, I've hated them with the fire of a thousand suns for as long as I can remember. But if there's one way to change my tune about a plant, it's to tell me that it is not only edible but can be made into wine. Viola - instant dandelion fan!
Having been long-since sold on the sheer delightfulness of dandelion wine (described by many as "sunshine in a bottle"), I've been keeping a sharp eye out for the appearance of the first yellow menace. I found my first few just today. So far, they are only growing on the south side of the house which tells me that I caught them nice and early in the season - woohoo! And so, I pluck a few dozen flowers and sit down to the larger task of separating the petals from the greenery. This takes forever and a day, of course, and yields an amount so paltry that it won't even register on the scale. Hooboy I've got a lot of dandy-pickin' in my near future. I've already enlisted the kids to help me with the next batch of blooms. Wrangling my kids into helping me make wine - I've got the Mother of the Year award practically sewn up!
Fortunately for me, the recipe that I am using calls for a volume of petals (6 cups!), rather than a weight or I'd need to be picking weeds 'round the clock. As it is, I'm kind of eyeballing my neighbor's yards for dandelions. If I play my cards right, in addition to Mother of the Year, I can also be that-weird-lady-who-steals-weeds.
Right now I only have about a cup of petals, so it'll be at least a week before I can start my wine, but when I do, I'll be sure to post details & pics of the process.