Saturday, June 11, 2011

Elderflower Champagne

Firstly, I have to say, I am scared. Very scared. I haven't lived in a Quasi war zone, unless you include the times I ventured into New Year's sales in the Women's Shoe department or of course when I lived in Guatemala, as they signed a declaration to end their civil war the year I was there. But I am experiencing once "again" living in fear of injury and explosions.

It comes from making champagne. How on earth is that a war zone? I can tell you are thinking. Especially as many people would think that it is magical and fabulous place to be. Well as you can guess from the previous posts, it is associated with Elderflower champagne. 
The beautiful white and slightly cream (with pollen and yeast) flowers
It is made without yeast, and therefore it relies upon wild yeasts already on the flowers. So we used two different recipes. I have 10 bottles from one style and 15 from the other. As opposed to my cider I made last year, this already tastes fabulous. The elderflower world that has opened up to me now is fantastic! I love it.

So the recipes are:
From my other love River Cottage and Hugh F.


  • 4 L hot water, 2 cold
  • 700g sugar
  • Juice and zest of four lemons
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • About 15 (I added 20+) elderflower heads, in full bloom
  • A pinch of dried yeast (you may not need this, I didn't)

How to make elderflower champagne
1. Put the hot water and sugar into a large container (a spotlessly clean bucket is good) and stir until the sugar dissolves, then top up with cold water so you have 6 litres of liquid in total.
2. Add the lemon juice and zest, the vinegar and the flower heads and stir gently.
3. Cover with clean muslin and leave to ferment in a cool, airy place for a couple of days
. Take a look at the brew at this point, and if it's not becoming a little foamy and obviously beginning to ferment, add a pinch of yeast. The smell you get from this is amazing and makes the house smell like a flower based sweets shop.
4. Leave the mixture to ferment, again covered with muslin, for a further four days. Strain the liquid through a sieve lined with muslin and decant into sterilised strong glass bottles with champagne stoppers (available from home-brewing suppliers) or Grolsch-style stoppers, or sterilized screw-top plastic bottles (a good deal of pressure can build up inside as the fermenting brew produces carbon dioxide, so strong bottles and seals are essential).

5. Seal and leave to ferment in the bottles for at least a week before serving, chilled. The champagne should keep in the bottles for several months. Store in a cool, dry place.

Get them labelled
The second is a little different and so I am a little worried.... we will see. Although the author says she has been doing it for 20 years.

1 (4.5L) gallon hot water
1 1/2lbs (680g) white sugar
7 heads of elderflowers (I added probably 15-20 smallish ones)
2 lemons, sliced thinly
2 tbsp white wine vinegar

Dissolve sugar in water, and leave to get cold; add lemons, flowers and vinegar. Cover loosely with a tea towel and leave for 24 hours. Strain and bottle, try after a fortnight. Will keep for up to a year I've found, tasting just as good. 

I let it sit a wee while longer,for safety concerns
I didn't bottle after 24hours as I was afraid it would explode just from thinking about fermentation and the speed at which it happens, so I let it sit for 3 or 4 days in a demijohn with a bubbler airlock. 

I am all excited as they should all be ready in about a week to taste! Who wants to come around and be a guinea pig? Possibly quite a drunk one?

10 green bottles sitting in the larder.


Paddy said...

Where do you buy your muslin/other gear?

Gee Em said...

From memory the majority came from Obi just down near Real. Also you can get lots at Le Clerc round the corner from you, if not, there are large volumes on Allegro. :)

Gee Em said...

you planning a brew?

Paddy said...

I definitely/desperately want to make something this year. I would hope a Nalewka of some kind. Buyt apart from cider from our orchard, I've never brewed owt before. Still there's always a first time and yours looks delish!

Gee Em said...

Brewing is amazingly simple and crazily addictive in the sense that it is just so fun, and hearing the bubbling in the background at the moment of my Nettle Beer is like having a babbling brook nearby! :) I recommend Nalweka it isn't brewing, but it is nice and easy and there are so many things you can do to be creative with it :)

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