It’s elderflower time. Here is a tried and tested recipe for elderflower champagne, a bubbly, lightly alcoholic beverage with the delicate aroma and flavour of muscat grapes.
- 8 large elderflower panicles
- 1 litre boiling water
- 3 litres cold water (filtered or non-chlorinated)
- 600 grams of sugar
- the juice and rind of 2 large lemons plus 2 tablespoons cider vinegar.
ONE: Collect fresh elderflowers, early in the morning, but after the dew on them has dried. Don’t wash them; it is their natural yeasts that will cause fermentation. Shake off any insects and remove the thick stalks.
TWO: Put the sugar in a very large bowl and dissolve it in the boiling water; add the cold water, the lemon juice and vinegar mixture and the elderflowers.
THREE: Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and let the mixture sit at room temperature for 48 hours, stirring at least twice a day. If by the end of these two days, you don’t see signs of fermentation, add a very small pinch, just a few grains, of yeast and wait for another 48 hours.
FOUR: Filter the fermenting elderflower mixture through a fine sieve and using a funnel, decant it into clean plastic soda-type bottles with screw caps. Please, don’t use glass bottles; this can be an explosive brew. Leave at least 3cm between the surface of the liquid and the top of the bottle. Screw on the caps tightly.
FIVE: Leave the bottles at room temperature for a week, briefly opening them at least once a day to reduce the pressure of the fermentation gasses. Then move the bottles to the refrigerator, but keep releasing the gas occasionally for another week.
SIX: Wait at least two weeks from bottling to drink your champagne; it will keep in the refrigerator for several months.
Header picture: Elderflower champagne by Sheila (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) flicker.com