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Dandelion Beer

Miriam Kresh

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Dandelion Beer

I used to make this beer starting late winter, when the first dandelion rosettes would pop up in the soggy ground, all through spring. It will foam up when poured out, but the head dissipates quickly. Don't expect it to be a fine beer, just enjoy it for what it is: a rough but tasty springtime homebrew and a real connection with nature's free bounty.

1. Wash a 1-gallon glass carboy, plastic fermentation bucket, or a large, food-grade plastic jug. It's important that this fermentation vessel should not be of metal, and be very clean, with no residue of former food or drink clinging to it, inside or out. Sanitize it with a mild bleach solution (rinse very well till no bleach odor is left) or a Campden tablet if you will - although I use Campden to sanitize my wines, I never did with this beer.

2. Put the sugar and the cream of tartar into the vessel.

3. Wash the dandelion, using any mixture of roots and leaves. Make sure to pluck out any flower stems; they are bitter and inedible. There is no need to peel the roots, just scrub the dirt off them. Chop the roots and leaves coarsely.

4. Simmer the dandelion material with the grated ginger, in all the water (you'll need a large pot, or split this step into two batches). Simmer for 10 minutes.

5. Funnel the liquor into the carboy, using cheesecloth to strain it, or strain and pour it into a jug.

6. Stir well to dissolve the sugar completely.

7. When the liquor is lukewarm, dissolve the yeast in water and add to the vessel.

8. Fit the airlock if fermenting in a carboy or fermentation bucket; if using a jug, cover it with a clean towel. This was my first homebrew recipe, and I had no dedicated beer- or wine-making equipment, so it was a clean towel for me.

9. All the beer to ferment three days. No need to stir it orinterfere with it in any way; just let it sit there and do its thing. Soon enough it will start to fizz away.

10. After three days, sterilize your bottles. Siphon the beer into them and cap. More confessions: sometimes I would keep this beer, for short-term storage, in sanitized plastic water bottles.

Wait a week before opening. Chill thoroughly before opening.

Enjoy! It's easy to get addicted to this brew.

* Although I've used white sugar, I came to prefer the nutty taste contributed by dark brown sugar.

** A friend says that a darker, sweeter beer may be made by roasting the dandelion roots first. In terms of proportion, I would use roughly 50/50 roots and leaves.

*** Yes, baker's yeast. If you have access to beer yeast, by all means, use it. But I never did, because there isn't any to be had here that I know of. And to tell the truth, I liked the idea of using the homeliest, least complicated ingredients and methods to make this country beer.

( RG1934 )

Miriam Kresh


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