Tuesday, 1 September 2015
Summer bubbly supplied by nature
We have made successful elderflower champagne in the past, and also unsuccessful elderflower champagne! I think the key is in the promptness of picking the flowers (to get more natural yeast) and the length of time it is tightly bottled before opening and enjoying.
As we'd had a bit of a flat elderflower champagne before, I decided to scour the internet for a recipe that was accompanied by encouraging comments - and here it is - The Pasty Muncher. As usual, I tweaked it a little, mainly by including a few more elderflower heads - here's my version:
12 fresh elderflower heads of varying sizes
10 litres of cold water
1kg white sugar
4 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
Pour 10 litres of cold water into a good sized clean bucket. Add the white sugar and stir to dissolve. Pick 12 fresh elderflower heads (try and pick these when they are in full bloom, not as they are about to turn (ie have a few brown flowers on the head)), knock out any lurking insects and add to the bucket. Cut the two lemons in half, squeeze the juice into the bucket and then add the left over squeezed lemons too. Finally, add the white wine vinegar. Give it all a gentle stir and then cover with muslin or a clean tea towel and leave for 24 hours.
The best bottle to use for this type of fizz are plastic bottles that had originally been used for carbonated drinks as they will allow the pressure to build a little without the risk of bursting and throwing shattered glass everywhere. You'll need 10 clean, sterilised one litre bottles (or equivalent). After the 24 hours, strain the liquid through muslin (perhaps using a sterilised jug to help) into the bottles and screw the caps on. Store the bottles in a cool place
Leave for a week to ferment (you may see some bubbles appearing). Gently unscrew the caps should the bottles become very firm - this will release any built up gas, then re-screw caps back on again.
We found leaving the bottles for at least a month produced a much fizzier and pleasant champagne, but I see the bottles can be stored for up to a year so I guess I'll be making much more next time around.