Make Delicious Elderflower Champagne

Elderflower champagne is easy to make, and is such a wonderful drink to sip on summer days and nights! This recipe makes sweet honey lemon tasting elderflower champagne

 

Every time I go back to England there are always so many elderflower cordials and drinks available in stores and cafes. But it is so difficult to find them here  as much in the States. Elder trees, where elderflowers are from, are definitely very abundant in Europe.  They grow in hedgerows, on the edges of woods, and along pathways.  

So a few years ago, because I wanted those elderflower drinks, I bought an Elder tree, with the intention of one day making my own elderflower cordials and drinks.  

And…that thing just grew and grew!  I had no idea how fast elderflower actually grows! But it is great – because it spreads literally like wild fire, and I end up getting so many big beautiful flower head clusters on it!

When it is time to cut off the blooming flowers, I can finally trim the whole elderflower hedge back, as by that point it is completely taking over my garden! (and my neighbor’s too…)

But the great thing is, I can now have elderflower champagne and cordials every year.  Elderflower based drinks are very easy to make. They do involve quite a bit of waiting, but that’s part of the intrigue of it all!

 

 

All About Elderflower Champagne

Elderflower champagne is a delightful fizzy drink. Yes it is alcoholic – the sugar turns into alcohol and creates this wonderful fizzy champagne.

To be honest, I am really not sure exactly how alcoholic it is.  I have drunk several glasses of my own homemade elderflower champagne, and I haven’t felt very tipsy at all.  But it may all depend on each batch that is made. The fermenting process of the champagne should turn it into alcohol, so count on it being an alcoholic drink. Most guides I have read state that elderflower champagne is about 3-5% alcoholic content.

The taste of elderflower champagne is hard to describe. It is a kind of honey lemony tasting drink, if I have to describe it.  If you have ever smelt elderflowers (and they have a beautiful delicate smell) you will understand how they will taste.  Lemons are mixed into the champagne mixture, so there is a lemony taste of course from their addition.

 

Elderflower champagne

 

How to Pick Elderflowers

It is always best to pick elderflowers when they are at full bloom.  Early morning is best, full sun is best, and dry weather is best.

If you are picking elderflowers in the wild, from a hedgerow etc, try to pick the flower blooms that are away from any roads, so there is likely to be less pollution.

Make sure you watch out for wasps and bees are you pick the flowers, as they absolutely love elderflowers too!

Some of the flower heads can be up high and hard to reach. Don’t injure yourself trying to grab a high up flower head! Pick what is close to you.

 

Ingredients needed for Elderflower Champagne

2 Pints compressed Elderflowers

3 pounds white granulated sugar

2 gallons water

4 tablespoons White Wine Vinegar

4 Lemons (juice and zest)

 

How to Make Elderflower Champagne

First of all, you need to pick your elderflowers.  Wait until most of them are out fully in bloom. 

Cut the heads from the plant stems as close to the flowers as possible.

Once you have cut all the flowers you need, place them somewhere together to wait for the little bugs to run off. Yes I know this part is gross – but honestly with any flower, fruit or vegetable you will need to do this.  I also shake them off a little (but don’t do it too hard or you will lose your flowers as well as your bugs!).

 

Try to remove any larger stalk pieces that are still on the flower heads. Those stalk pieces will be bitter tasting, and you don’t want them in your final champagne mixture (although you will be sieving and straining your final mixture which will remove them). You want to use all flowers as much as possible in your drink mixture.

Fill a bucket or large container with the water.  You need to use a very clean container for this. You can use a bucket – but make sure it hasn’t been used for anything else and is completely cleaned beforehand.

Once the water is in the bucket (or other container) place the flower heads into it.  Push them down into the water mixture as much as possible.  If you notice bits of stalk etc as you push them in, remove them immediately.

Juice and zest the lemons, and add the lemon juice and zest to the mixture.

Next add the sugar, and the white wine vinegar to the mixture. Stir everything together well.

 

 

Once everything is stirred together, cover the bucket or container with a tea towel or cloth. Leave to ferment for 24-48 hours.  

Once 24 hours is up, you can start testing to see if the mixture is fermenting. Tell tale signs of fermentation taking place are bubbles and some foam activity.  

You can speed up the process by adding a pinch of yeast if you wish. Champagne yeast is usually recommended, or Baker’s yeast if you can’t get that.

If you are not sure, leaving the mixture for 48 hours is advised, as usually that is ample time for fermentation to begin.

When that time is up, remove the flower heads from the mixture.  I usually use a large fork to do this.  Strain the mixture through a sieve into empty bottles.

I like to use old soda bottles for storing my elderflower champagne. They are not the most attractive bottles of course, but the ones that come with a screw top are excellent for keeping the champagne ‘corked’ and are also non-spill.

You will need to leave the champagne to ferment for about 14 days on average. Store it at room temperature somewhere out of the way.  If you put it in the fridge the fermentation process will slow down. Therefore don’t put your champagne into the fridge until you are ready to serve it.

You can test to see how fizzy the mixture is by releasing the screw cap a little to listen for the fizz.  I always recommend storing the bottles out of the way somewhere, just in case the mixture ‘blows’ and the lid pops off. Note: I have never had this happen, but you just never know. This is the same for any homemade alcohol, including beer – you should always store it somewhere safely and out of the way.

Enjoy your great tasting elderflower champagne!  Place it in the fridge to chill before serving.

 

Elderflower champagne is easy to make, and is such a wonderful drink to sip on summer days and nights! This recipe makes sweet honey lemon tasting elderflower champagne

 

 

 

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