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Instructions and recipe for sweet and citrusy elderflower champagne. Includes tips on foraging for elderflowers, and how to transform them into one of the best wild-foraged drink recipes that you’ll ever try!
Making elderflower champagne is a lot easier than you’d imagine. All you need are freshly picked elderflowers (or dried ones in a pinch), champagne yeast, and a few other ingredients. Once this recipe is finished fermenting, you’ll have about six bottles of citrusy and floral elderflower champagne. It’s best served chilled and accompanied by summer sunshine.
If you’ve not tried elderflower champagne before, you’re in for a real treat. It’s sweet like a dessert wine with a refreshing lemonade-like taste. Once you’ve made it the first time, I guarantee that it will become an annual wild food foraging tradition.
Foraging and Picking Elderflowers
Elderflowers bloom from late spring to early summer in temperate climates. They’re so sweet-smelling that you can’t mistake them for anything else, even rowan flowers that look similar. That scent is what gives Elderflower cordial and Elderflower Champagne its delicious aroma.
You’ll find elderflowers blooming a little earlier in warmer areas though and I once came across some in mid-April on a trip to Italy. Elder trees grow in semi-sun and you’ll most often find them at the edges of woodland or the road! Pluck entire umbels shortly before you plan on making this recipe and make sure that any insects have escaped before starting. The best way to do this is to set the flowers outside for an hour or two.
When foraging for elderflowers, make sure to leave enough to form berries later in the summer. My rule is to take what I need from several trees rather than stripping any one of the flowers.
Elderflower Champagne Recipe
10-20 Elderflower heads
900g / 4.5 cups of Sugar
1 liter / 4.25 cups White Grape Juice
3 Lemons, washed
Sachet of Champagne Yeast (1 tsp) – don’t use bread yeast for this recipe
3.75 liters / 15 cups Boiled water, allowed to cool to room temperature.
1. Using a fork, remove all the elderflowers from the stalks and mix in a bowl with the sugar. Leave them for 2-3 hours and mash the mixture up with the fork as you mix, every 20 minutes or so. What you’re doing here is infusing the sugar with the Elderflower fragrance and flavor.
2. After 2-3 hours, add the water and stir until the sugar has fully dissolved. Then add the white grape juice, yeast, and yeast nutrient.
3. Halve the lemons and squeeze the juice into the bowl – then toss the lemon halves in as well. 4. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave for 5 days, stirring occasionally. It starts fermenting at this time and if you add it to the demi-john too early it can create a mess.
5. After the 5 days, siphon into a sterilized demi-john (carboy) and fit an airlock to it. Leave the mixture to ferment for about 1-2 weeks or until the bubbles in the airlock slow down to a standstill. You should keep the champagne in a room with the temperature recommended on the yeast packet.
6. Siphon into sterilized plastic drinks bottles after specific gravity 1010 is reached (use a hydrometer) and leave for a few weeks to ferment further. This further fermentation is what will give it its fizz! This is also why it’s safer to use plastic drink bottles because glass bottles, though lovely to look at, can explode if you’re not careful.
7. Serve the Elderflower Champagne chilled and enjoy the taste of summer