This month does not resemble Aprils I have known. We have had no rain and almost continuous sunshine. Dandelions appear to love it. Roadside verges are blanketed in a glare of golden yellow.
I have given dandelion wine a four year break, in the hope that it will be better this time. And it had to be dandelion this year because I said it would be in Home Farmer Magazine. April is a difficult time for wine anyway because buying ingredients feels like cheating. So, towards noon on Sunday morning, 17th April, I put on sun cream, donned my Hat, and drove to Lawnswood Crags. I took a measuring jug with me to allow me to measure whilst I picked, rather than come home with either far too many or irritatingly too few flowers.
Getting six pints of flower-heads proved rapid work. An old man asked if I was making a potion, and a young girl with Downes Syndrome asked questions, but otherwise I was undisturbed.
Once home I put the dandelions in the bucket, picked three from our garden and also put in most from the posy of dandelions Angie and Phil brought with them last night. I rescued one ladybird and as many money spiders as I could and poured over seven pints of boiling water.
On Tuesday evening, 19th April, after a boozy lunch with Rodney and an afternoon of feeling unsteady and squishing 86 sawfly grubs, I added 3 lbs sugar and the thinly peeled rind of 2 lemons and one orange. This was then poured into a big pan, brought to the boil and kept boiling for ten minutes. It took an age to start boiling, and the floating carpet of dandelions made it difficult to tell when it was. I used the time productively to bottle my Blackcurrant Wine. The whole mix went back into the bucket over the juice from the citrus fruit. Claire dislikes the smell now permeating the house, but I think it pleasant.
I put in one litre of white grape juice, the yeast (Hock variety) and a teaspoon each of pectolase, tannin and yeast on Wednesday morning. I shall filter out the dandelions and put the liquid into a demijohn on Saturday.