Have you noticed that the hedgerows have been filled with Elderflower blooms over the last couple of weeks? If you are anything like us, you'll have spent almost 2 weeks saying something along the lines of, “I really must collect some elderflowers this year and do something with them.”
Sound familiar? If so, then hopefully we can offer some inspiration in the form of Elderflower Champagne. Not only does it sound fancy, but it is very easy to make and from the feedback we have had it tastes pretty decent too.
If you follow our easy steps, you will soon be the proud owners of a delicious and delicate floral champagne. The ideal accompaniment to long, late summer nights spent with friends.
Top Tip – only pick the Elderflower heads when you are ready to use them as they wilt very quickly and as with all things hedgerow foraged please please do not take all your heads from one bush, no matter how convenient it seems.. it is absolutely vital that you spread out your 'picking' so that there are loads of berries come the autumn for the birds and wildlife who live there.
1. Collect your elderflower heads. You will need approximately 18-20 of these. Check them for bugs (a good way to do this is to leave them head facing down on a tray outside for a short while to allow everyone to crawl away!)
2. Then you need approximately 1.6kg of sugar. This is about 3.5 pounds in old money.
3. Eight unwaxed lemons – these need to be zested and juiced. Unwaxed is important as no-one wants to be drinking the wax from the rind.
4. A 5g sachet of dry champagne yeast. Not that we advocated using Amazon but it is available on there. If you use Amazon Smile to shop, you can pick your favourite charity to receive a donation. www.smile.amazon.co.uk.
You will also need:
· 2 x 12 litre fermenting bucket – ideally with an airlock lid
· Sterilised muslin – big enough to cover the opening of your bucket.
1) Ensure your fermenting buckets have been well cleaned. Fully dissolve all the sugar in 4 litres of just-boiled water in one of the fermenting buckets. Add 6 litres of cold water once dissolved.
2) Double check your elderflower heads for any remaining bugs and give them a good firm shake. Strip the florets (petal bunches) from the stems of the heads. This is quite easy with a fork.
3) Once the sugar water has cooled to approx. 20C, stir in the lemon zest, juice, flowers and yeast. Cover and leave to ferment for six days – Keep out of direct sunlight. If your fermenting bucket doesn’t have an airlock lid, gently rest the lid on top of the bucket so that some air can escape.
4) Once the six days is up, strain the liquid through boiled or sanitised muslin into the second sanitised fermenting bucket. Dispose of all the sediment. Leave the second bucket to settle for a few hours. An easy way to do this is to hold the muslin in place with an elastic band.
5) Siphon the liquid into sanitised bottles and seal. These can be glass bottles or recycled plastic bottles. Leave for five days in a cool, dark place.
After five days, check the carbonation by lightly opening the lids to let out the excess CO2. Then keep in the fridge and serve chilled.
We hope you like the recipe. Please let us know your thoughts. We have always been quite partial to it after a busy day in the garden or at the allotment.