When I was chatting to (Auntie) Sarah on the phone about some Olympic tickets which she thought she might be able to get (but more on that later), she mentioned that (Uncle) Michael had just been brewing (not being used in a technical sense) some Elderflower champagne. This struck me as rather intruiging, and after he kindly sent me the recipe, I tried some brewing of my own.
A copy of his recipe:
[There is a separate affair altogether which is elderflower wine (using 2½-3 lb sugar plus yeast and fermenting in demijohn with airlock for several weeks) which can be quite strong; later on if all flowers are not plucked elderberry wine which can be very strong indeed.]
Collect 7 heads of elderflowers – cut or snap off the stalk before it divides up into multiple stalks and keep them whole in a loose bag or bucket. If they are small heads or not all flowering take more. Ideally they will be dry, fragrant and flowering, sans bugs. Pick and use – don’t squash them or leave them lying around all day.
Use 1 gallon of clean water. A clean plastic bucket is probably best for the job.
Take 1¼ lb normal white sugar or caster. Not brown but pale gold will be OK. Boil some of the water, say 2 pints, and dissolve the sugar. Add the cold water.
Wait for the sugar and water solution to reach room temperature. DO NOT ADD THE OTHER INGREDIENTS UNTIL THE WATER IS COOL NM
Add to the liquid:
- The elderflowers
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 lemons sliced thinly
Cover with a clean cloth and leave in peace 24 hours
Use bottles that have had fizzy drinks in them. Bottles that have had still water in them may not be strong enough.
Strain the liquid through a cloth in a funnel into the bottles. Leave 2 inches gap at the top.
Screw lids on well.
Leave in a cool place for approximately two weeks. Longer in cool weather so maybe more like 3 weeks for you! London heatwave weather does it in 8-10 days.
Test by slightly unscrewing – it should be fizzy like champagne with lots of froth. If it is not fizzy screw up and wait a few days. If it is extremely fizzy (and/or you see bottles swelling up) release some pressure and drink it asap!
When it is ready drink it cool within a few weeks – it doesn’t last well although keeping it in the fridge may preserve it by stopping/slowing the fermentation.
I was doing the straining with a tea towel in th bath tub. Funnily enough the towel is printed with information about the making of Cider. Still, it also managed to be useful enough for champagne.
It's now sitting outside the back door, doing a poor job of carbonating.
Ah well, only a first attempt.