Girlfriend and I picked about 13 L of flowers today for 4 gal batch. We calculated that this is somewhere between 5-10,000 flowers. We live near a big field where lots of them grow so we didn't have to walk around too much. I foudn the best way to pick is to reach below each flower and scoop it up between your fingers. Gather as many flowers between your middle and ring finger and pull the flowers off. Do the same between your index and middle finger and continue. Rip the stems that are hanging through the other side of your hand. But don't worry about making a clean removal, you'll remove the petals later. The trick is to gather as many as you can in your hand before pulling the heads off, and to gather large flowers.
You will encounter bees. Many bees. I just ignore them but if you're more daring you can swat them off with the bag you're carrying or your hand. They usually just fly away. Wear gloves (unless you want dandelion resin all over your hands), and wear long work pants because you will be kneeling a lot and wiping your resin fingers on your pants.
Picking them is easy. We picked this many flowers in about an hour. Removing the petals is the long but fun part. You need to do it ASAP after you've finished because the flowers will go bad soon.
What I find is best for the de-stemming is to grab a nice seat outside with some music going and some beer/wine. You're going to want to get drunk while doing this because you would otherwise lose your mind. I'll have 1 bag that contained the flowers, another bag for discard, another bag for de-stemming processing, and another bag for stashing the flowers. Wear gloves and grab some scissors. Set up the bag on one knee so the bag is separated into two compartments. Store flowers that you picked in the left compartment and put the petals (after de-stemming) in the right compartment. This is to avoid grabbing a flower from the bag every time and makes you more efficient. Once you have enough flowers in the right compartment put them in the stash bag. You may need to adjust the weight so the bag doesn't slip. Grabs a handful of flowers and place them in the left compartment, then grab a flower from this compartment and snip at the base allowing them petals to fall into the right compartment. Don't worry about the fluffy stuff and the bits of green, you just want to remove the base that would otherwise give the wine a bitter flavor. Repeat about 5000 times. A good pair of scissors makes a difference. This is the method that I found works best for me in my current situation.
You will encounter spiders. Towards the end of the bag all the insects that you gathered along with the flowers will start showing up. Be ready for this.
After de-stemming, my girlfriend and I did about 13 L of flowers in about 4 hours. It's hard work! But it's a good time to listen to an album or 6.
Also, I was thinking about straining the mix after boiling for the second time. That is, after boiling the petals and orange/lemon I want to strain and then pitch the yeast and raisins. It just seems like it would be easier. Any fore-seeable problems?
Last edited by seanstermatic; 05-07-2012 at 05:05 AM.