There are a myriad of recipes and methods for making elderflower ‘champagne,’ a pleasant, alcoholic summer drink that’s easy to make. This is how we do it.
You will need…
- A sterilised bucket with lid for big enough for brewing the following…
- 9 x litres hot water
- 4 x lemons – zested and quartered. This makes for a cloudy and lemony drink which we prefer. However, if you prefer something more subtle, simply slice the lemons instead.
- 4 x tbspns white wine vinegar
- 1.5 Kg sugar (we use caster sugar)
- 12 x elderflower heads*
- 8 x 1 litre sterilised plastic bottles (more if you want to squeeze every last drop from the brew and are happy to sift out the ingredients).
* To identify elderflower have a read our earlier post. You need to pick flowers on a dry sunny day, ideally when the scent is strong and you may even see some pollen coming from the blooms when you touch them.
Pick the freshest flowers you can to ensure sufficient flavour and yeast but don’t delay in using them! They don’t keep for long. Oh! Check for critters (bugs) in the flowers before use too!
Remember, always, the golden rules for foraging:
- If you are anything less than 100% sure of what it is you are about to harvest, leave well alone!
- Never take more than what you absolutely need
- Check permissions, bye-laws, protection status and all conditions of entry specified by landowners before foraging
- Where foraging is permissible, only ever pick leaves, fruits and flowers. Never uproot or take entire plants
- Always closely supervise children and novices
- The water temperature should feel comfortable to touch when you start to make the champagne. Luke warm is too cool, and if its too hot to leave a hand in there it’s too hot to use! Add the sugar and stir to dissolve.
- Next, stir in the flowers, lemon and white wine vinegar. Loosely cover the bucket (carbon dioxide from fermentation needs to be able to escape) in a area with a constant temperature. We use the airing cupboard and leave the lid on brewing bucket partially un-clipped.
- Gently stir once a day, you should notice signs of fermentation at an early stage such as foaming/bubbling. Continue this for a week, you should notice a slowing down in the fermentation activity by the end of the week.
- Decant the drink into the bottles. Using a siphon tube with sediment trap and straining through a muslin cloth works well. Store in a cool dry place for ten days.
- Important note: Check the bottles by gently squeezing them each day. Fermentation should continue in the bottle and there will be less give in the plastic sides. If the bottle gets rock hard, you will need to gently loosen the lid to relieve pressure building up. Its safest to do this outside after gently handling the bottle to avoid any explosions or inadvertent decorating of the carpets or ceiling!
- Served well chilled and please drink responsibly! This should make a slightly alcoholic drink but the strength can vary! The longer the drink is stored in the bottles, the ‘drier’ and stronger (more alcoholic) it becomes so keep that in mind to suit your preference and use within 2-3 months. You can measure the drinks strength by using a hydrometer.