Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Elder flower champagne

We seemed to have had an abundance of elder flowers this year, springing up in the hedgerows and also in our garden, so we took advantage and decided to make some elder flower champagne.

I remember a few years back the children in the home ed group went off round the local park picking a bucket full of elder flowers and then the group leader turned it into champagne ready for our autumn term meeting.  It was so refreshing and very drinkable that Paul and I decided to have a go ourselves.  Unfortunately our first attempt was a complete disaster.  We fermented the lemon, elder flowers and water in a metal preserving pan and, upon instructions sourced somewhere, left it for a few days to do it's yeasty thing.  By the time we came back to it, the mixture had taken on a very mouldy appearance and was therefore disposed of!

This year I sourced a very simple recipe and one, I'm pleased to say, that was successful.  We made quite a bit of drink from this recipe (good, good!) but found you really need to store it in very tight clipped glass bottles otherwise you lose the champagne bubbly fizz.  We only had one bottle like this (we'd given the others away last Christmas with blackberry vodka in them) and used kilner jars and a left over vodka bottle to store the remainder of the elder flower champagne.  Only the tight clipped glass bottle produced the fizzy drink, the others didn't do the fizz job at all!  Having said that, fizzy or not, this drink is delicious - you'll want to make lots I promise you.  Also, all recipes I've seen say to use a clean bucket which we did this time over our metal preserving pan.  Not sure if this made a difference but perhaps the metal would add a taste to the final drink?

Elder flower champagne

1 gallon hot water (about 4.5 litres)
1.5 lbs white sugar
7 elderflower heads (fresh ones, not ones that are slightly turning brown)
2 thinly sliced lemons
2 tbsp white wine vinegar

Use a clean bucket to make the drink.  Add the sugar to the bucket and dissolve it in the hot water - leave until cold.  Add sliced lemons, elder flower heads and white wine vinegar.  Cover loosely with a clean tea towel and leave for 24 hours.  Strain the mixture into tight clipped glass bottles.  The drink should be ready after a fortnight and will keep, bottled, for up to a year.  Be careful when you first open the bottle, hopefully you'll have a nice fizz and get a good "pop" when it opens!

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