Elderflowers bloom around late May to mid-June and once you know where they can be found, you can come back year after year to pick flowers. Just remember to leave plenty to turn into berries and for the birds! They're best picked when the buds are freshly open on a warm, dry, sunny day, well away from traffic and above dog height. Don’t pick them just after it’s rained as it's the pollen that gives the delicate flavour, and it will be washed away!
Elderflower “champagne” is a naturally bubbly, lightly alcoholic beverage with a delicate taste. It doesn’t take long to make and any recipe that may involve a messy kitchen explosion is pretty exciting in my book!
It’s worth noting that of course it can’t be called Champagne as it doesn’t comes from the region of Champagne, France, and isn’t made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes.
- 6 or 7 sprigs of fresh elderflower
- 1l boiling water
- 3l water
- 500 g sugar
- 1 1/2 lemons, peel sliced off in strips
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1.5 g of champagne or wine yeast
- Clean the elderflower heads, removing any dead flowers, cobwebs, dirt and spiders!
- Dissolve the sugar in the boiling water, then cover and cool
- Once the sugar solution has cooled to room temperature, pour it into a large, clean 5 litre container. Add the rest of the water, the lemon peel, the juice from the lemon, elderflowers and the yeast. Stir, cover with a muslin and leave to ferment in a dark place, at room temperature, for 5 days.
- Give it a little stir everyday – you will notice a few bubbles and froth after a few days
- Fill 4 x 75cl litre plastic bottles with the champagne, using a plastic funnel and a muslin. Seal tightly and leave for the second stage of fermentation.
- Release the pressure in the bottles each day for at least a week, until the amount of fizz that occurs starts to decline - this can vary each time you make it. I keep a plastic bag over the bottles whilst they are fermenting just in case there is an explosion.
- Once the fizz that occurs starts to decline, put the bottles in the fridge and serve with sunshine.