Beautiful, semi-autobiographical novel written by Ray Bradbury and published in 1957. This evocative and nostalgic (but almost plotless) book details the Summer of 1928 in the small town of Green Town, Illinois, focusing on a boy named Douglas Spaulding (a character based on Bradbury himself), as well as his family, his friends, and various local residents of his hometown.

Bradbury's writing is extremely rich and very sensory-oriented: the reader will get the feeling that he or she knows, from the writing alone, exactly what fox grapes smell like, what new sneakers feel like, what homemade lemonade tastes like on a hot day, what an old baseball glove smells like, what it's like to be afraid of the dark for no good reason, what a caterpillar feels like when it crawls on your arm, what it's like to get up early in the morning just to watch the world wake up...

It's also, sometimes, a scary and sad book. Bradbury's thoughts, even at their most optimistic, never stray too far from the darkness, and even Douglas Spaulding's perfect summer is marred by fear and panics, by failed magics, by loss and death. Douglas begins the novel by realizing, for the first time, that he's alive, and the downside of that is learning about mortality.

More than likely, no one ever had a summer this wonderful as a child, but it's the summer that we all should have had. I've always loved reading this book in the dead of winter -- you can almost feel the snow melting around you as you read...

Dandelion Wine


  • 1 gallon water
  • 2 quarts dandelion heads
  • 3 pounds white sugar
  • 4 oranges
  • 1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
  • 1 package wine yeast

This recipe makes a pleasant dandelion wine. It is important that the flowers be picked in sunshine at midday when they are fully opened and that the making of the wine should be started immediately.

In a large (very large) kettle bring the water to a boil. Measure the yellow heads, discarding as much green as possible without being too anal. Put flowers in a large plastic container that has been thoroughly cleaned and pour the boiling water over them. Cover and let steep for two days. Be careful not to exceed this time or a strange and curious odor will set in. As you may or may not know, a strange and curious odor kinda ruins a nice table wine.

Pour the water and flowers back into the kettle. Add rinds from the 4 oranges (remove all the white pith) and boil for 10 minutes. Strain through a sieve lined with very fine cheesecloth. Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves. When the mixture is cool, add the yeast nutrient, juice of the 4 oranges, and the yeast.

Pour into a fermentation jar and fit the trap. Your fermentation jar can be a gallon jug, glass or plastic, but you must be sure it is cleaned thoroughly in hot water before use. The fermentation trap can be obtained from any store that sells wine-making materials.

When the wine has cleared, siphon off into clean bottles with a plastic hose. Make sure the hose does not pick up any deposit from the bottom. To avoid this, attach the hose to a stick longer than the jar is tall, so that 3 inches of the stick will protrude beyond the end of your hose.

Dandelion wine is best enjoyed with poultry.

Back to Dandelion
Back to The Edible Wild

A tale of my own efforts.

"We used to call it 'piss-a-bed' wine."
— overheard at a Winemakers Club meeting

Yes, I used to be a winemaker. I used to make wine in England, an unusual hobby for a country not known for its viticulture, unlike almost all our continental neighbours. It's not well known that Britain did have a winemaking culture beyond the brewing of barley wine; for many, many years there had been a tradition of making "country wine". Absent a climate suited for growing good grapes (although the Romans had tried, and in the warmer climes of the Southwest they still did), canny locals fell back on using the ingredients they had to hand. So fruits like apples, blackberries, pears and even rosehips. If they were in short supply there were some seemingly odd fallbacks. I've seen recipes for rhubarb, parsnip and yes, dandelion.

I only made dandelion wine once. The traditional recipe I had called for the flowers to be picked on Saint George's Day, so I did that. It was {thankfully) a warm, sunny day and I did just as Pretzellogic mentioned above and picked them at midday. I picked a whole bucket of them, took them indoors, cleaned them up and followed the recipe (which included apples and orange zest). I set the whole two gallons fermenting, and when it was finished, I racked it off into bottles and set them aside.

Finally (around Christmastime) I decided to open one. Wary of the dandelion's reputation as a diuretic I took only a small glass. It was a beautiful pale wine, clear as anyone could wish for and I was quite excited. It smelled faintly floral and I was even more excited. Then I took a sip. Now Pretzellogic says that one needn't be too anal about removing the green. That is not correct and I should have removed every trace. it was initially quite pleasant. The first sip was delightful, but as I rolled it over my tongue I could get that hint of chicory-bitterness. I swallowed. The bitter taste persisted. I took another sip and the sensation was amplified, coupled with an astringency that hammered the bitterness home. What had I done wrong? I returned to my winemaker's bible and scoured the method for any hint or clue as to what had gone so horribly wrong. My error was clear, I should have excised every trace of greenery.

Even so, I thought, maybe if I lay it down for a while longer it will disappear. Perhaps it needs more time to mature and possibly improve. So I waited and I waited for the local winemakers club to meet for its next tasting at which point I thought I'd get others' opinions as to what to do better next time. I dutifully took a bottle to the meeting and after it was opened and sampled, the consensus was clear. Under no circumstances should anyone make this blasted brew again. It was cursed, it seems. Apparently many made tried, but only two had produced anything even approaching being drinkable, and it's a lesson that everyone seems to have to learn.

Still, it did clean the drains.

Thanks, Cyril Berry for misleading us all.

Iron node 19

$ xclip -o | wc -w

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.