When you think of wine, more than likely you immediately think of the juice of fermented grapes, but excellent quality wine can be made from other ingredients including blackberries, plums, rose hips, cereals, flower petals — even root vegetables. While these wines may not be too common on the shelves of your local wine shop, the beauty of home winemaking is that the sky’s the limit.
You don’t have to be a master vintner or have a house full of expensive equipment to make wine. Here are three simple, all-natural recipes using strawberries, elderberries and dandelion blossoms. Use recycled wine bottles and local, organic ingredients for truly green homemade wine.
1. Strawberry wine
Recipe from Peggy Trowbridge Filippone
Contrary to what you might expect, strawberry wine is not syrupy or sickly sweet. It has a nuanced, multi-dimensional flavor with a fruitiness that shines through even when the wine is dry. When choosing fruit, keep in mind that no wine can be better than the fruit used to make it. This recipe yields about 2 1/2 gallons of strawberry wine.
- 7 pounds whole fresh strawberries (fresh picked, if possible), washed and hulled
- 2 gallons boiling water
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 5 pounds sugar
Mash strawberries in a large earthenware crock. Cover with boiling water, add lemon juice and stir briskly for about two minutes. Cover the crock with a clean linen cloth and allow to rest in a cool, dark place. Stir daily for one week.
After seven days, use a double layer of cheesecloth to strain the strawberry mixture into a clean bowl, discarding the pulp. Combine the strawberry liquid with sugar and stir, then pour into a clean crock and allow to stand for an additional week, stirring daily.
At the end of the second week, pour the liquid into 1 gallon glass bottles and cork loosely. Let the bottles sit in a cool, dark place for three months. Once the wine is clear and no longer bubbling, pour it into individual wine bottles, cork and age at least 1 year before drinking.
2. Elderberry wine
Recipe from Grape Stompers
American elderberry shrubs are found all over the middle and eastern parts of the country from Texas up to South Dakota, eastward to the Atlantic and northeastward into southern Canada. In the summertime, these bushes are loaded with clusters of blue-black berries, which make delicious jam — and wine.
- 3 pounds elderberries (remove the stalks)
- 3 pounds sugar
- 1 lemon
- 1 pound raisins (can use sultanas)
- ½ ounce yeast
Use a fork to remove berries from the stalk. Pour berries into a sanitized bucket and add 1 gallon of boiling water. Mash the elderberries against the side of the bucket, then add raisins or sultanas. Cover bucket and let stand for three to four days. Strain mixture and add liquid back to bucket. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Add juice of 1 lemon and sprinkle on the yeast, then cover for another three days.
Strain wine mixture and pour resulting liquid into a demijohn container. Secure airlock and leave until bubbling stops completely, about four to five months. Strain, pour into individual bottles and age for at least four months.
3. Dandelion wine
Recipe from Texas Cooking
Dandelions, those little yellow flowers with the saw-toothed leaves, have long been the bane of homeowners intent on flawless lawns, but they’re actually highly nutritious and make a delicious and unusual wine when mixed with citrus, ginger and spices. Pick dandelion blossoms in an open field far from any insecticide spraying, or from your own yard. April and May are prime time for dandelion picking.
- 1 package dried yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 2 quarts dandelion blossoms
- 4 quarts water
- 1 cup orange juice
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 8 whole cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
- 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped orange peel
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped lemon peel
- 6 cups sugar
Wash dandelion blossoms and put them in water with orange, lemon and lime juices. Add cloves, ginger, orange peel, lemon peel and sugar and bring mixture to a boil. Boil for one hour, then strain through coffee filter and allow mixture to cool. While still warm (but not hot), stir in yeast.
Let wine mixture stand overnight, then pour into bottles. Allow uncorked bottles to sit in darkened place for at least three weeks, then cork and store in cool area for six months to a year before drinking.
UPDATE: If you are new to winemaking, please do check out a guide for beginners that covers sanitary practices, recommended ingredients and detailed tips on the winemaking process. These are recipes only and are not intended to be a full how-to for home brewing. Some resources include The Joy of Home Winemaking and The Beginners Wine Making Forum.