Recipe: Elderflower Champagne

The elderflowers are here! Just a few sunny days and they’ve gone from tiny, tight buds to full bloom and I’m ready to spring into action. First up is the annual batch of Elderflower Champagne. Always a big hit at summer barbeques, I try to make plenty, but there are so many delicious things to make with this crop that there never seems to be enough. This June seems to have been  so much warmer and sunnier than last year, let’s hope that’s a good indication of how summer will be this year. So, in anticipation of  glorious summer evenings sitting outside with good food, friends and family , here is my 20 years old and never failed yet recipe for elderflower champagne:

6 – 8 heads of elderflower, picked warm from the sun on a dry day

4 litres of boiled and slightly cooled water

500g granulated sugar

juice and finely chopped zest of 2 large organic  and unwaxed  lemons

2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar

Method

In a non metallic container:

Dissolve the sugar in the water, add the lemon zest and juice allow to cool, add the remaining ingredients, cover and leave for 4 – 5 days in a warm, dark place (I put mine under the sink as the airing cupboard gets too hot).

Then, strain through a double layer of muslin into a jug and pour into glass screw top bottles. Don’t screw the lids too tightly (I screw mine on then undo a quarter turn just to be sure). Leave for 4-5 days in the dark. Check the contents are beginning to fizz, if not leave and check daily. After a week or as soon as the bottles are effervescent, tighten lids and store in the fridge.

Ours get drunk quickly so I’ve no idea how long the bottles last unopened. But according to River Cottage, they should last several months. And, if you aren’t used to making your own wines or cordials, this might prove helpful.

Just a couple of tips if this is your first time making hedgerow drinks, cordials etc:

Do make sure you shake the flowers thoroughly to dislodge any bugs – and do rinse the flowers thoroughly! (2015 update – the Elder tree is full of Cockchafers!)

You might find it easier to strip the flowers from the stalk if you rake them with a fork (hold the flowers over a large bowl to catch them as they fall).

Finally, whatever you do, don’t be tempted to try and stuff the flowers into a narrow necked bottle.I’ve seen lots of these photos on Instagram this year –  and while it makes a great photo – it’s a real chore to try and strain the liquid. Keep your pretty bottles for storing the finished drink or giving as gifts!

Don’t forget to sterilise your bottles (any decent preserving book will advise you).

I’ll be sharing some of my other  favourite elderflower recipes later, including a flavured gin, cordial and the ever popular elderflower curd.

And yes, I have blogged this recipe before. Some readers said they had trouble finding it, so here it is again in full.

Enjoy x

 

 

 

 

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