Do-It-Yourself Dandelion Wine, Maple Syrup and Bicycle Rack

Learn how to make your own dandelion wine, tap your trees for syrup and build a DIY bicycle rack.
March/April 1978
http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/dandelion-wine-zmaz78mazjma.aspx
Tap your trees to get delicious syrup.


MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

Lynne and Jim Spaulding — a couple of young back to-the-landers — say, "A nice lady gave us a recipe for dandelion wine that's supposed to have health-giving properties. We made it, and it's great!" Here's the Spauldings' formula for one gallon.

Make Dandelion Wine

Early in the morning when the dew is on the flowers, pick one gallon of perfect, open dandelion blossoms.

Put the blooms in a 2-gallon or larger open crock, and pour boiling water over them. Cover the crock with cheesecloth, and let it sit at room temperature for three days. Then squeeze all the juice out of the flowers, throw them away, and save the liquid.

Pour the fluid into a big pot and add 3 pounds of brown sugar, 3 or 4 lemons (juice, skin, seeds and all, chopped up together), and 3 or 4 oranges (chopped up just like the lemons).

Put a top on the pot and boil the mixture for 30 minutes, cool it to lukewarm, pour the fluid into the crock, and add 1 1/2 or 2 packages or tablespoons of yeast.

Cover the brew with cheesecloth and let It "work" for two or three weeks until the bubbling stops. Filter through fresh cheesecloth and then bottle. Save your "bottled sunshine" and uncap it on a gray, overcast January day. Presto! It's summer again!

Maple Syrup

March is maple syrup time across the upper half of the eastern United States, and just for fun, you might like to tap a tree or two to see how it's done. You don't even need sugar maples, either: Syrup can be boiled down from the sap of any variety of maple — even the sycamore — and prospectors up in Canada's Peace River country often tap birch trees.

Pick trees at least 10 inches in diameter and tap 'em. (Note: Click on the Image Gallery link above for more a detailed illustration about how to tap trees.) The spile can be anything from a cutoff bean shooter to a 4-inch length of green elderberry stem with the pith pushed out. Put two spiles in each tree and figure on 15 to 30 gallons of sap — which will boll down to 1/2 to 1 gallon of syrup — per tree.

Late afternoon is the best time to collect the day's flow, and don't expect it to run on a regular schedule. Some days you'll be lucky to find the bottoms of your buckets wet, and on others, the pails will be running over before you get to them. That's the way Mother Nature works.

Homemade Bicycle Rack

There's an awful lot of old bedsteads being scrapped in this country at the same time that bicycling is enjoying a greatly increased popularity. Wonderful! An ideal recycling situation has been set up.

What you do, see, is you take the headpiece off one of those antiquated iron bed frames, and you remove the casters and embed the legs of the assembly in cement and ... Presto! You've got yourself a DIY bicycle rack that's every bit as good as an expensive store-bought model.