Small Batch Dandelion Mead Recipe
Mead has been around for centuries, and dandelions have long been foraged by man. Dandelion Mead is one of the 'old school' Meads which had such a romantic feel to it for me. So it is the one I wanted to make, above all others. The first time I made it, I was not disappointed. It is gorgeous.
Dandelions - not only in Spring
The Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) grows freely around the apiary where we keep our bees, and their beautiful yellow heads pop up every Spring. Dandelions are treated as herbs by many, who use the leaf, stem, flower and root of the dandelion for medicinal purposes.
We try not to pick too many dandelion flowers in one area, as dandelions are one of the first foods for foraging bees. They are rich in both nectar and pollen and provide food for pollinators when there isn't a lot of choice for them out there. As well as bees, butterflies also flock to flower heads to feast on dandelions early in the year.
However what you may not have noticed is that dandelions actually flower from Spring right through to October. They may not be as profuse in October as they are in May, but they're definitely there. Later in the year I pick them as I find them, prepare them as below and freeze them in batches until I have enough to make Mead.
The ideal time to pick dandelion flowers is first thing in the morning, when they are still damp with dew. Wherever you choose to pick your dandelions for mead making, be sure they haven't been sprayed with pesticides, and are out of range of dog walks and busy roads, so far as possible. And because they provide a food for so many foraging insects, do make sure you leave plenty of flowers behind for them.
It is best to prepare your dandelions as soon as possible after they are picked, whilst they are fresh.
Preparing Dandelions for Mead
I remove the petals from the dandelion flowers for mead. You can use the whole flower head, but the green on the stems and heads brings bitterness to your brew which tends to be inconsistent, and difficult to get right. So I choose to leave the green out altogether.
If you have never removed petals from dandelions on this scale before, you will be surprised at how rich in yellow pollen they are - your finger tips will quickly become covered! No wonder the foragers flock to dandelions when they come into flower. When you start you will think 'this is going to take forever'. But you will soon master the art of whipping all the petals out of a stem in one go, and then it doesn't take long at all.
Freezing Dandelion Petals
At this point I am not usually ready to make Dandelion Mead right away. So I pop a takeaway food box of dandelion petals in the freezer until I am. You don't need to freeze the petals on baking trays to avoid them sticking together, as they're all just going to go straight in the demijohn together anyway. So long as you freeze them the day you pick them, they'll be almost as good and fresh when they're defrosted as they were at the point you froze them.
Started a small batch of dandelion mead last night. Picked the flowers a month ago and froze them, honey from Gwyneth hive a couple of weeks ago. Fermentation started overnight ❤️ #meadmaking #dandelionmead #beekeepersofinstagram #mead #homebrew #makeyourown #makeyourowndrink
Guidelines for Making Mead
I outline the important points to remember in our Beginner's Guide to Making Mead, such as sterilising everything before you start. If you haven't made Mead before, please read the guide.
Leaving your Mead to Mature
You can drink meads quite young. Or you can age them. Leaving your mead to mature is the only difficult part of this process, but it is most definitely worth the wait. If you make the quantity in this recipe, it will produce the equivalent of 3 wine bottles of Mead. Do yourself a favour, if you can't wait. Drink one young, leave the second for 6 months, leave the third for a year. You won't believe the difference.
Yes I know 12 months is a long time. All the more reason to make lots of mead on a rolling basis. In a few months, your mead stash will be beautiful to drink. Then you'll be more inclined to leave your newer meads for long enough to mature to perfection!
Small Batch Mead (2.4 litres, 4 pints)
I make small batch mead in half demijohns, and this recipe is for a small batch. Half demijohns are not made anymore unfortunately, which is a shame because I love them and use them all the time. There must be millions of them in people's lofts because they regularly turn up in charity shops and at the dump. Because half size demijohns are no longer produced, the corks/bungs for them aren't made anymore either so, if you have one, you may need to cut a bung/cork to size to fit the airlock. More about that in my post Glass Demijohns and Where to find them.
You can make this in any vessel which allows you to fit an airlock in the top. If all else fails, double the recipe and make it in a full size demijohn - you won't have difficulty drinking it all. It's beautiful!
Dandelion Mead Recipe
This recipe is designed to make a small batch, approximately 2.4 litres which is 4 pints or about 3 standard wine bottles. If you want to make a full demijohn of dandelion mead, simply double the recipe.
- About one cup of dandelion petals, prepared as above.
- 1.5-2 litres bottled water
- 1.5 lbs Raw Honey
- 1 lemon
- Mead yeast, or dried active yeast, or Lalvin D47 yeast
and you will also need equipment as outlined in my Mead Making Guide.
1. Clean and sterilise your demijohn and the funnel you will be using to put liquid into it, together with your bung and airlock.
2. Juice the lemon with a lemon squeezer/juicer.
3. Put 1 litre of the bottled water into a saucepan, together with the dandelion petals. Bring to the boil, then turn off immediately and allow the petals to steep in the water for 30 minutes.
4. Once the water is still warm but not hot, add the raw honey and lemon juice and mix together. Leave for another 20 minutes, until the mixture is just above blood temperature, and certainly well below 30 degrees C.
5. Pour the mixture (known as must) into your sterilised demijohn, through a sterilised funnel. Top up with bottled water to just below the shoulders of the demijohn, to allow for fermentation.
6. Sprinkle yeast on the surface of the liquid.
7. Push the sterilised bung in to the neck of the demijohn. Put your (washed) thumb over the top of the hole in the bung and swirl the yeast into the liquid.
8. Then put water in your airlock and fit it in to the bung.
9. Leave somewhere safe (where it won't be knocked over) at room temperature to ferment. Fermentation may start within 2 hours or take a bit longer, depending on the yeast and/or the temperature in the room.
10. After 2-3 days when the fermentation has slowed down and you're confident it won't overflow, you can top up with a little more bottled water if you wish.
11. Leave until fermentation has completely finished, which could be 3 weeks or longer. When you're almost at this point you may have some interesting shapes in your demijohn, as the petals slowly fall to the bottom.
Rack off after the first fermentation
12. Once fermentation has finished and there is no sign of activity in your airlock or demijohn (could be 3 weeks or considerably longer), siphon the mead into a second, sterile half demijohn. Be careful not to get dandelion petals in the syphon. We usually wait until all the petals have fallen to the bottom of the demijohn before we rack off.
13. Put a bung and airlock back in the neck of the second demijohn, just in case there's any brief, residual fermentation. We always carry out this second stage to know for sure that there is no activity, to avoid exploding bottles. We prefer to do this, rather than adding chemicals to stop fermentation. But if you can't wait, you can use fermentation stopper to be sure it has definitely finished.
14. Once you are confident fermentation has completely stopped, you can bottle your Dandelion Mead. Or if you prefer, you can switch the bung for a sterile one without a hole in it. The mead can then age in the demijohn to be bottled later - whichever is easiest for you.
15. Leave to mature. This mead is beautiful to drink, and lovely to give away as gifts.
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