Making Elderflower Champagne

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Elderflower Champagne is a sharp refreshing summer drink and with a ready supply of Elderflower shrubs across the country you’ll always find some somewhere even in big cities. Elderflowers start to appear in April and last until June or early July, this does vary from year to year and in different parts of the UK.  Always pick the flowers that are higher up which means they won’t have been used as a toilet for any passing animals, it is also recommended to pick them at midday when the flowers are fully open. Make sure that you get the right shrub and if you are unsure see the photograph below which shows you what the flower heads are like.

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The flower of the Elder Tree.  Ignore the pine like foliage in the background as this is a Yew Tree.

Recipe:

This makes about 6 litres of Elderflower Champagne:
5-8 large heads of elderflowers – make sure that they are fully open, preferably facing the
sun. The more elderflowers used will increase the flavour. Around 5 is generally best so
that the taste isn’t too strong.
(If using dried elderflowers use 1 x 50g bag)
600g of sugar
2 lemons
4 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
6 litres of cold water
1 x sachet of Champagne yeast
Fermenting time: Approx 1 week
Maturing Time: 4 weeks it can be left longer for the flavours to develop.

This recipe is based on making 6 litres. To make larger batches, increase the quantities in proportion (apart from the yeast which you don’t need more of, unless making a batch over 25 litres in size).

Equipment you will need:

Home Brew Online Elderflower Champagne Equipment Pack.   This has everything you need apart from the ingredients to make Elderflower Champagne however you can use

any existing equipment and bottles you have. If you don’t have any equipment we would recommend buying one of the starter kits on the link above rather than buying the equipment individually as it will be cheaper.

Method:

1. Wash the lemons and use a potato-peeler to peel the lemon rind off as thinly as possible. Remove any insects, leaves or other unwanted objects from the Elderflowers.

2. Squeeze the lemons and put the juice into a fermenting vessel along with the lemon rind and flowers.

3. Add the sugar and the wine vinegar. Be careful not to crush the flower heads too much with the sugar.

4. Pour on the water. Sprinkle a sachet of yeast on the surface of the liquid. (Please note, there might be enough natural yeast present to start the fermentation without yeast. We recommend using it however to ensure a complete fermentation.) Put the lid on the fermenting vessel and leave to stand for approx 5-7 days or until the majority of the bubbling and fizzing has ceased. Stir gently every other day with a sterilised spoon.

5. Sterilise the bottles using a steriliser/sanitiser.

6. Place your fermenter higher than the bottles. Use a syphon tube to transfer the mixture through a funnel with a strainer fitted  into bottles. Take care not to disturb the sediment and avoid transferring any debris. The less sediment you pick up, the better the end result will be.

7. Once all the bottles are full, put the caps on firmly and place somewhere cool. Try and leave a gap of around 1½ inches between the liquid and top of bottle. A garage shelf is ideal to store. After four weeks the Champagne is ready for drinking. However, the taste does improve with time and can be left for a year or more. It is probably best to leave it for six months to a year to mature, as this means the full taste will have developed, without any fizz escaping. Open bottles gradually to avoid the contents spraying out. It is advisable to chill the champagne in the fridge before drinking.

Important Note: Take care when storing bottles of Elderflower Champagne, especially when using glass bottles. Our glass bottles are strong and shouldn’t explode, but varying factors such as heat and too much added sugar, along with the nature of brewing which is unpredictable, can result in unexpected breakages. We recommend storing in a garage with the bottles in a box or container.

Happy Brewing!

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