Elderflowers are in bloom in late May and while we usually start with elderflower cordial, it's not soon after that we turn to something a bit more... intoxicating. Elderflower champagne is easy to make, all you need is a few easy-to-find ingredients and some containers with tight-fitting lids (we recommend sturdy swing-top glass bottles). We can't think of a better way to toast in the summer than with a glass of elderflower fizz!
To accompany your elderflower champagne make Lydia’s Amazing Elderflower Cake.
- 4 litres hot water
- 700g sugar
- Juice and zest of four lemons
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- About 15 elderflower heads, in full bloom
- A pinch of dried yeast (you may not need this)
- 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.
- Add the lemon juice and zest, the vinegar and the flower heads and stir gently.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
Image credit: Monica Shaw.