For the past two years I’ve been talking about making elderflower champagne. Last year I even collected plastic bottles, except that the weather was so awful that I didn’t get a chance to pick the flowers. The plastic bottle collection eventually got out of hand and the man took action and threw it away, probably in late October – bless him.
I now only have four plastic bottles in the house (must put a shout out at work) but I did get to pick some flowers on Wednesday night and throw a first mix together. It’s so very simple, cheap and already, just 48 hours later, is smelling beautiful.
I followed the Hugh Fernly-Whittingstall recipe from C4. I’ll update on the taste once I pop a bottle and might even branch out into ginger beer. Here’s to home brew!
Makes about 6 litres
4 litres hot water
Juice and zest of four lemons
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
About 15 elderflower heads, in full bloom
A pinch of dried yeast (you may not need this)
1. Put the hot water and sugar into a large container (a spotlessly clean bucket is good) and stir until the sugar dissolves, then top up with cold water so you have 6 litres of liquid in total.
2. Add the lemon juice and zest, the vinegar and the flower heads and stir gently.
3. Cover with clean muslin and leave to ferment in a cool, airy place for a couple of days. Take a look at the brew at this point, and if it’s not becoming a little foamy and obviously beginning to ferment, add a pinch of yeast.
4. Leave the mixture to ferment, again covered with muslin, for a further four days. Strain the liquid through a sieve lined with muslin and decant into sterilised strong glass bottles with champagne stoppers (available from home-brewing suppliers) or Grolsch-style stoppers, or sterilized screw-top plastic bottles (a good deal of pressure can build up inside as the fermenting brew produces carbon dioxide, so strong bottles and seals are essential).
5. Seal and leave to ferment in the bottles for at least a week before serving, chilled. The champagne should keep in the bottles for several months. Store in a cool, dry place.